First Drive

First Drive: Hyundai Kona Hybrid

The story:
Hyundai joined the supermini-SUV sector just two years ago with the Kona. Now it’s adding a petrol electric hybrid to the range to sit alongside the fully electric version and the two conventional petrol engines and replace the diesel offering.
Category:B-SUV
Key rival:Nissan Juke
Hyundai Konda hybrid Premium
Price:£24,295
MPG:52.3 mpg
Emissions:99g/km
On sale:26th September 2019

With the race between car makers to introduce as many eco powertrains as possible fully under way, Hyundai has installed a ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid in the Kona small crossover.

Hyundai already has a fully electric Kona on sale, but the strong demand for that car means that if you ordered one today you’d be lucky to see it arrive on your driveway before March.

Hence the new hybrid, which is aimed at capturing some of that demand for more efficient, non-diesel cars.

Powering the hybrid is a 1.6-litre petrol engine coupled to a 32kW motor powered by a 1.56kWh battery. The result is a WLTP CO2 figure of 90g/km for the entry level SE car on 16-inch alloys or 99g/km for higher-spec cars on 18-inch rims.

First Drive-September 2019-Hyundai Kona-Image 4The economy of 56.5mpg (or 52.3mpg for the higher specifications) is also on a par with the outgoing diesel Kona that the hybrid replaces, but the hybrid avoids the 4% benefit-in-kind tax penalty that all non-RDE2 diesels incur. The result is a car that sits in either the 22% or 23% company car tax band depending on the trim level.

Helping the real-world efficiency, the Kona is fitted with a system that advises the driver when it’s best to lift and coast in order to recharge the battery. It uses sat-nav information to detect when there’s a likely time to let the battery regenerate, such as approaching a motorway exit, and informs the driver via the dashboard.

Hyundai has also fitted the Kona hybrid with its new connected car tech that allows owners to control and view systems within the car from a mobile phone app. Included in the Bluelink system is remote locking, climate control, trip information and in EV cars it will also control the charging. The system will eventually be rolled out to all Hyundais in the next few years.

First Drive-September 2019-Hyundai Kona-Image 7The Kona hybrid sits on the same uprated suspension as the higher-powered versions of the regular Kona, which means the supermini SUV drives well and copes far better with potholes and bumps than the cars fitted with the standard suspension. This also means that suspension does a good job of minimising body roll. The steering, meanwhile, is accurate, if a touch numb.

 

The transition between the petrol and electric modes is near-imperceptible and, thanks to the use of a double-clutch auto gearbox, changes are smooth in full automatic mode. There are also wheel-mounted paddles to shift gear manually.

The result is an appealing package that’s as tax-efficient as you’ll get without going for a car that you need to plug in.

Tristan Young

The verdict

Given the lack of availability of the full EV, the hybrid has to be the most appealing company car in the Kona range, and probably of any supermini-SUV.