The Hyundai Kona is a small, quirky-looking crossover car that’s staking its place in the increasingly crowded compact SUV market. With a high driving position, an interesting range of engines – including an all-electric powertrain – and plenty of standard tech, it’s well worth checking out. Especially if you’re after something a little less conventional than the rest of the class has to offer.
The Kona is certainly a funky looking thing, with chunky plastic-clad wheel arches, big alloy wheels and swoopy exterior flourishes giving it a thoroughly modern, purposeful look.
While the most recent facelifted versions are a little longer, and boast a curvy new bumper design, both iterations of the Kona boast an aggressive, rugged appearance that lend the car some serious urban explorer credentials. We like it a lot, actually.
The most recent facelifted versions are a little longer, and boast a curvy new bumper design.
What's it like to drive?
Due to its elevated ride height, the Kona’s driving seat makes you feel like you’re piloting something a little taller than a normal hatchback. Luckily, this doesn’t affect the Kona’s handling, which only suffers from minimal body lean in the corners. The stiff suspension ensures it remains relatively composed on twisty B-roads, although the steering lacks feel. Great for families who just want to et to their destination, less for driving enthusiasts who want to feel the journey.
The Kona’s ride is decent, although it lags a little behind its closest rivals when it comes to comfort. While it will gladly tackle fast A-roads and motorways with vigour, the Kona is most suited to town driving, where its light steering and compact size make it perfect for negotiating narrow city streets and tight parking spaces.
The entry-level 1.0-litre petrol isn’t powerful but it has enough clout to keep up with motorway traffic and negotiate overtaking manoeuvres on A and B-roads. The 1.6-litre petrol hybrid model is quicker, while the latest electric versions are lively performers.
While it will gladly tackle fast A-roads and motorways with vigour, the Kona is most suited to town driving.
Thanks to a wide range of adjustability for the driver’s seat and steering wheel, it’s easy to get comfortable in the Kona. The pedals line up nicely with the seat and there’s adjustable lumbar support on all but SE Connect versions. Ultimate trim cars get electric seat adjustment as well.
Front and side visibility is good thanks to the Kona’s thin pillars and tall windows, although the view back is slightly obstructed by the car’s small rear screen. Rear-parking sensors and a reversing camera come as standard, so squeezing into cramped parking spaces should be a breeze.
The Kona is well-equipped for a car in this class. Entry-level versions come with Hyundai’s eight-inch display infotainment system featuring Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, air-con, cruise control and a rear-view camera. N Line trim includes rear parking sensors, climate control, ambient lighting, an upgraded sound system and a larger touchscreen with sat-nav and the option to connect with Hyundai's Bluelink smartphone app. The Premium and Ultimate specs add heated front seats, a sunroof and an additional safety kit, among a host of other high-tech goodies.
The interior of the Kona lacks the slightly oddball touches of the exterior, but it’s decently put together, with sturdy plastics and pleasingly soft-touch materials spread around the cabin. It’s a nice place to be, beating several of its rivals for an overall quality feel.
The Kona’s interior space is decent, if not class-leading. Front head and legroom is ample, while the rear compartment may be a bit of a squeeze for adults over six feet tall.
When it comes to interior storage space you get the requisite pair of cupholders up front, a large cubby underneath the front-centre armrest and some decent-sized door pockets. N Line, Premium and Ultimate models also feature a wireless phone-charging pad behind the gear lever.
Boot space isn’t quite on a par with rivals, although its wide opening allows you to get larger items in and out with the minimum of fuss.
Additionally, the Kona’s standard issue 60/40 split rear seats, which fold almost flat into the floor, give you the option of carrying larger loads should the need arise.
Reliability and running costs
Fuel economy for the Kona’s entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine – which will return a reasonable 47.1 mpg – is roughly in line with the competition, while the 1.6-litre Hybrid model is considerably more frugal, delivering 56.5mpg with an equally impressive CO2 figure.
The latest electric versions of the Kona – which are available with either a 39kWh or 64kWh battery – have respective ranges of 200 and 300 miles from a full charge.
What we love
We love the Hyundai Kona’s swoopy, slightly space-age looks and its premium tech. There’s an impressive amount of standard safety kit as well, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and a driver fatigue monitor. The Kona also has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
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There’s a lot going for the Hyundai Kona. There are its unconventional looks for a start. But it’s the Kona’s generous levels of standard equipment, high-tech infotainment system and trusted reliability that really make it a worthy contender in its class.
This review was