The Hyundai Kona launched in the middle of last year is a big step up from the car it replaced. For a start, it’s probably half a size bigger, with most of the extra real estate going into the interior, making it a spacious car for four adults and their luggage.

The styling has evolved too, morphing into an SUV lite, with a mildly raised driving position.

It looks very smart, particularly in the white of my test car, featuring very narrow headlights that are nonetheless very effective, given that they’re laser units.

The interior room is actually very impressive, with Hyundai pointing out that it’s now not far off the bigger Tucson. It’s a very well built cabin too, with good materials but I did find it a bit dark. I’d love to have some lighter materials to give it a bit of brightness.


I was in the hybrid for the week, but there’s also a 1.0 litre petrol turbo with 120bhp. I had a brief drive in this version on the launch and it was a very agreeable companion and might suit better than the hybrid, particularly as it’s a good bit cheaper.

The hybrid takes its power from a 1.6 litre petrol engine and in conjunction with an electric motor produces 141bhp, which drives the front wheels via a six speed twin clutch gearbox.

Performance around town is quiet and effortless and there’s a nice response when needed. At higher speeds, it’s no road rocket but there’s precious little cause for complaint either.

Fuel economy during my week with the car hovered around 6.0 l/100km and I thought it might have done a bit better than that but a lot depends on how it’s used and I did quite a bit of motorway driving, not completely ideal conditions for a hybrid.

A limited amount of EV running is possible but even when the engine kicks in, it does so smoothly and fairly unobtrusively. It’s a robust drivetrain and it’s a useful half way house to full electric.

Incidentally, a full EV Kona was launched at the end of last year, so there’s now a full choice of powertrains: petrol, hybrid and EV.

The interior of the Kona N-Line.
The interior of the Kona N-Line.

The cabin is nicely styled and although a lot of functions are carried out with the 12” touchscreen, there are physical and virtual buttons underneath it for the climate and infotainment controls, making things a lot easier to operate.

There’s heated seats and a heated steering wheel and the seats themselves are very comfortable, upholstered in a dark fabric. Plenty of legroom is on offer to both front and rear seat occupants and the hatchback is a very good size and easily accessible.

Although there’s no advanced self driving tech, there’s active cruise control, which works very well and a plethora of warning systems which are now mandated in any new car. As usual, I wanted to switch a lot of them off and found it was a complicated affair of multiple presses on the screen each time I got into the car. Maybe there’s a way of setting up shortcuts but a separate physical button to set things up to my preferences would have been very welcome. That’s not a criticism of the Kona – I could say the same thing about most new cars now.

The Kona provides a very comfortable drive with good visibility. Especially around town, the large glasshouse and good reversing camera makes parking and manoeuvring an easy process.

The Hyundai Kona comes with petrol, hybrid and full EV options.
The Hyundai Kona comes with petrol, hybrid and full EV options.

Pricing and Equipment

The Kona range starts from €30,895 but hybrid versions sell from €35,795.

Standard equipment includes alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, bluetooth with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

N-Line trim starts from €39,295 while my Elegance test car starts from €37,545 and adds equipment including 18” alloys, heated front seats with lumbar support, heated steering wheel, power folding mirrors, 12” TFT instrument cluster and a wireless phone charging pad.

Definitely one to look at if you’re in the market for a family car, with the added bonus of a full choice of power options.


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