First Drive

First Drive: Hyundai Kona 1.6 CRDi Premium

The story:
Hyundai has expanded its Kona small crossover range with a diesel offering, which joins the petrol and full electric powertrains on offer.
Category:Compact Crossover
Key rival:Citroen C3 Aircross
Hyundai Kona 1.6 CRDi 115 Premium
On sale:Now

With the continuing growth of the compact crossover segment in terms of both sales volume and the sheer number of competitors, Hyundai has elected to add a pair of diesel engines to the petrol range that its Kona launched with in late 2017.

First Drive- February 2019 - Hyundai Kona - Image 5The two choices are a manual 115hp 1.6-litre unit, as driven here, or a 131hp 1.6-litre automatic. These options are added to the 120hp 1.0-litre and 177hp 2.0-litre petrols, plus the new pure electric version.

Despite the market moves away from diesel, Hyundai claims there is customer feedback that dictates sufficient demand.

Although the diesel is, predictably, more efficient, the gap is close enough to make it far from a done deal for company car use. The 115hp diesel has a 111g/km emissions figure for the entry SE trim, and 112g/km in the Premium and Premium SE, while the more powerful automatic Kona diesel is at 114g/km. Both lower than the 1.0-litre petrol’s 128g/km, but the chancellor’s punitive four-band BIK penalty on diesels, combined with the higher P11D price, mean the petrol car comes out at £11 per month cheaper this tax year for a 20% taxpayer.

Then there’s the fact that refinement is something of an issue for the Kona, with the diesel suffering significantly from engine noise; it feels like diesels of years past, rather than a modern powertrain. Performance is fine, but it’s the lumpy chug that contrasts badly with the thrum of the three-cylinder petrol.

Paul Barker

The verdict

Sub-optimal refinement levels and lack of clear running costs advantage hampers the diesel, especially as the 120hp petrol engine is a decent one.