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First Drive

First Drive: Hyundai Kona

Hyundai Kona 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium
The story: Hyundai has treated its Kona range to a raft of updates, so it’s available with mild-hybrid, full hybrid and full-electric powertrains. This is the hybrid
Category:small crossover
Key rival:Ford Puma
On sale:Now

The Hyundai Kona is one of those very few cars that’s available with three power sources – a mild hybrid, a full-on hybrid and as a pure electric vehicle. Here, we test the full ‘self-charging’ hybrid that, along with the rest of the range, has been given a series of tweaks for this year, including styling changes, trim enhancements and more technology.

These include a sharp new nose, while under the bonnet lies the same 105hp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, plus 42hp electric motor and 1.6kWh battery.

It’s a good drivetrain, which allows you to set off using electric power alone, after which the petrol engine kicks in so smoothly you’d barely know it has started. The system also lets you drive along on electric power alone for short distances, which is as smooth as you’d expect.

It’s a shame that the sound the engine makes is a bit of a blare, but we can live with that for the economy, which sits at an official 55.4mpg. The car emits 114g/km of CO2, which puts it in the 26% for BiK.

First Drive - June 2021 - Hyundai Kona - Image 3The rest of the driving experience isn’t quite so convincing, because the ride is pretty hard and the steering, while light, gives you no idea what the front wheels are doing. The upside of the firm ride is that the Kona handles quite neatly, but we’d rather more comfort in a car designed to excel in and around town.

There’s decent space for two up front but legroom is less good for those in the rear. The 374-litre boot space trails those of its major rivals, too.

The Premium trim tested includes features such as automatic lights and wipers, climate control, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a Krell premium audio system and 18-inch alloy wheels that look great but don’t help the ride. There are also ‘anthracite’ enhancements to the exterior trim and a fully digital driver’s information display, which is bright, clear and easy to use.

euan doig



The verdict

Enhancements make the Kona Hybrid more attractive than ever, and its hybrid powertrain is certainly economical, especially in town. But interior space is a little bit of an issue.