The Hyundai Kona has funky looks, but the driving experience is firmly in the middle of the pack

The Hyundai Kona is a car that clearly uses its design to draw in buyers. It's not that rewarding to drive, thanks to lifeless steering and a 1.0-litre engine that isn't as flexible as the small units in some of its rivals. The ride is unsettled on the larger wheels that come on many versions, and there's not as much passenger or luggage space on board as you'll find in some competitors.

The all-electric Kona EV sets new standards in the class with its long range and decent price tag, but the standard version is in the middle of the pack if you're after an alternative to a Nissan Juke or Renault Captur.

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Hyundai Kona 1.0 T-GDi 120PS SE

With the launch of the Hyundai Kona, the Korean maker combined its talents for building rugged SUVs and small cars into one. But it also added electric and hybrid power to the mix alongside the usual combustion-powered options. In terms of price, the Kona ranges from around £17,000 to over £36,000. That final price is for the electric model, and in relative terms that's competitive with its EV rivals.

The standard Kona is pitched against a swathe of small crossover rivals, ranging from established models such as the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008, as well as more recent arrivals like the Citroen C3 Aircross, SEAT Arona and Vauxhall Crossland X, not to mention the Stonic from sister brand Kia.

Hyundai Kona vs Citroen C3 Aircross vs Mazda CX-3

While the Kona and Stonic both arrived on the market at around the same time, they're actually very different. The Kia uses running gear from the Rio supermini, while the Kona uses an all-new platform, which is why it can be offered with electric drive.

Power for the standard Kona comes from 1.0 and 1.6 T-GDi turbo petrol engines. The 1.0 petrol three-cylinder gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a seven-speed DCT auto is standard with the 1.6 petrol – this model is also the only version with four-wheel drive.

After dropping the diesel variant in 2018, the space as the Kona’s most fuel-efficient option - aside from the fully electric model - was filled by the Hybrid, which joined the range a year later. This shares its 1.6 petrol/electric powertrain with the Hyundai Ioniq and the Kia Niro, and in this installation it returns 52.3mpg and emits less than 100g/km of CO2.

On the Kona EV front there are two variants on offer, one with a 39kWh lithium-ion battery and 136PS electric motor, and a 64kWh version with a motor rated at 204PS. For more details, you can read our full review of the Kona Electric here.

There are S, SE, PLAY, Premium, Premium SE and Premium GT trims on offer, although you can't get every trim with every engine. S trim (which is only offered with the 1.0 T-GDi engine) gets air conditioning, front and rear electric windows, electrically adjustable side mirrors, auto headlights and LED daytime running lights. DAB and Bluetooth are included too, albeit as part of a monochrome LCD infotainment system.

A limited-edition Kona Iron Man Edition is also available, boasting unique 18-inch alloys, body styling inspired by the Marvel superhero's 'exosuit' and a tongue-in-cheek 'Stark Industries' rebranding of the car's infotainment and head-up display. It's a fantastic option for Marvel fans but expensive at £28,000; power comes exclusively from the larger petrol engine option. 

There aren't many options offered: instead Hyundai makes you move up a trim level to get more kit. SE adds an upgraded seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. There's also electric adjustment on the driver’s seat, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, fog lights and leather on the steering wheel and gearlever.

• Kona Electric vs Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV vs Toyota C-HR Hybrid

The Kona isn't involving to drive, and while it stays pretty composed in corners, the ride gets jittery as soon as the road surface worsens
Petrol models are a little thirsty, but the efficient hybrid model is among the cheapest cars in its class to fuel and tax
Exterior styling will split opinion. There's decent scope for personalisation, and the infotainment system is pretty easy to use
Not the biggest car in the class, and the suspension set-up means it never quite settles down on bumpier roads
Well known engines but an all-new platform beneath them. Decent Driver Power manufacturer score, though

Premium adds climate control, keyless entry and ignition, auto wipers and increases the touchscreen size - after an update in 2019 - to 10.25 inches. Crucially, it also increases the wheel size to 18 inches, which unfortunately have an impact on the ride, making the Kona feel firm. Premium SE also adds heated and ventilated leather seats, a head-up display and a heated steering wheel, front parking sensors.

Premium GT trim is available exclusively with the 1.6 T-GDi 4WD petrol and adds full-LED headlights and tail-lights, a larger driver's information screen in the instrument cluster, and some additional safety features, including pedestrian recognition as part of the autonomous emergency braking function.

The Kona Electric comes in SE, Premium and Premium SE trims, with the 39kWh version available in SE and Premium, while the 64kWh comes in Premium and Premium SE styles.

Last updated: 
23 Sep, 2019