Hyundai Kona Hybrid review
The Hyundai Kona Hybrid is a stylish-looking small hybrid SUV, but it's not the most practical car of its size and isn't a big improvement over the mild-hybrid version
- Great fuel economy
- Quiet at steady speed
- Stylish design throughout
- Not fun to drive
- Not hugely practical
- Noisy when you accelerate
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
The Hyundai Kona Hybrid is a small family SUV that uses a petrol engine combined with an electric motor to boost efficiency. It's not a plug-in model – the engine, along with regenerative braking, is the only thing that can charge the small battery. It's an alternative to affordable hybrid family SUVs such as the Kia Niro and Toyota C-HR, and received a refresh in early 2021, with revised front-end styling and some technology improvements.
The Kona is available with several different powertrains at this point, including mild-hybrid petrol and excellent fully electric model. Yet if you're not able to plug in at home, this 'full hybrid' may make the most sense and deliver the lowest running costs. The Kona Hybrid uses an efficient 1.6-litre petrol engine plus a 43bhp electric motor to make a combined 139bhp.
The small 1.56kWh battery is only used for short periods to drive the car alone – most of the time, the engine is on. However, in traffic it automatically turns the engine on and off when needed, keeping efficiency up. It works seamlessly and the automatic gearbox means this is a very relaxing car to drive in traffic, like pretty much all electrified models.
According to official figures the Kona Hybrid returns between 55 and 58mpg fuel economy depending on the trim level you choose. These are decent numbers, if a little behind those of some rivals, yet in our experience the Kona does get close to those numbers in real-world driving. The very fact that it's a hybrid saves you a little on road tax too, while the low CO2 emissions of 112-115g/km mean that it's cheaper to run as a company car than a regular petrol SUV of a similar size.
Regardless of where you're driving, the Kona Hybrid is pleasingly quiet at a steady speed. But this changes when you accelerate hard: the six-speed automatic gearbox is slow to respond, and when it does drop down a couple of ratios, it forces the engine to rev loudly and coarsely. Despite the noise, there’s almost no urgency as the Kona gathers pace: it’s little wonder that 0-62mph takes over 11 seconds.
There’s not much fun to be had in corners, either: while the steering is light, there’s little in the way of feedback. Coupled with the amount of body lean during a turn, you’re not going to relish driving the Kona Hybrid. Mind you, the ride quality is decent – even on the larger (18-inch) alloy wheels.
Inside, the interior styling lives up to the promise of the sharp, appealing exterior. Although the doorbins are a bit small, there’s plenty of storage space otherwise and a comfortable driving position with good visibility is easy to find. Large families may be disappointed with the practicality, however. With the front seats pushed back, legroom is only really suitable for small children, while the 374-litre boot is far from the largest in the class. For a more detailed look at the Hyundai Kona Hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Hyundai Kona Hybrid is a stylish-looking small hybrid SUV, but it's not the most practical car of its size and isn't a big improvement over the mild-hybrid version
- 2MPG & CO2 emissionsFuel economy from the Hyundai Kona Hybrid is good, but it's not quite the class leader in this respect
- 3Running costsAs one of the most economical hybrid SUVs on sale, the Hyundai Kona Hybrid should make your money go further – especially if you're a company-car driver
- 4Engines, drive & performanceThe Hyundai Kona Hybrid is efficient, but it feels as slow as the on-paper performance figures suggest and isn't exactly thrilling to drive, either
- 5Interior & comfortThe interior of the Hyundai Kona Hybrid looks good for a car of this price. It's also comfortable and packs some impressive in-car technology
- 6Practicality & boot spacePracticality is adequate in the Hyundai Kona Hybrid, although some rivals offer more boot space
- 7Reliability & safetyThe Hyundai Kona gets a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score, but it’s a shame that so many of the driver aids are optional