What is it?
If any car symbolises how far Hyundai has come in the past few years, it’s the Kona. Not only does it sell well (the aim is for 17,000 units in the UK this year, which would make it the firm’s second best-selling car), but it also has nearly the full gamut of powerplant offerings to cover any customer’s needs. Petrol mild hybrid, hybrid and electric - there’s even a hot N version coming. Europeans also get diesel versions, but Hyundai sold so few here it doesn’t bother any more.
The car has recently been facelifted and this time we’re trying out the hybrid version of that surgery. It’s not the most radical design overhaul but if you enjoy playing ‘spot the facelift’, you should know that the narrow daytime running lights are even narrower (if that was possible), while there’s more plastic cladding around the nose and the front foglights are more rounded and less blocky. The rear also features a smidge more plastic cladding and similarly tweaked lower lights. In addition, new paint colours are available (complete with predictably jazzy names such as Surfy Blue) and new wheel designs. The 18in alloys on our test car look particularly good.
Overall, it’s not what I’d call a beautiful car, but it is at least distinctive - something that’s needed when the compact crossover class is so crowded with rivals like the Renault Captur, Toyota C-HR and Nissan Juke.
Inside, the overhaul continues with a fresh new infotainment system - 10.25in touchscreen but mercifully with plenty of physical buttons directly beneath it – so it looks less like a Fisher Price system these days. There’s a new digital dashboard display as well. An electric handbrake has been added, as has the odd touch of chrome - nothing major but it certainly helps to make it look more up to date.
There’s plenty of technology on offer: wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connection is standard across every trim, and all bar the base Kona come with nav and BlueLink Connected Car Services, the latter of which covers things like Last Mile Navigation (which will transfer the last bit of nav instructions to your phone, if the end of your journey has to be on foot), Connected Routing (smart navigation, so it’ll update according to traffic) and Live Parking information (does what it says on the tin). It’s a subscription service but you get five years for free.
Leather is standard in this Ultimate trim level and features both heated and ventilated front seats. The rears are also heated as standard. Impressive stuff from a car that costs under £30,000.
Those rear seats are a bit flat, but you perch quite high in the back so there’s good visibility over the driver’s shoulder. Anyone over six-foot should be wary, though: because of the high seating position, head room is a bit limited in the rear.
We’re testing the hybrid version here, but a 1.0-litre mild hybrid is also available on the Kona for the first time. Our 1.6-litre petrol hybrid is good for 139bhp and 195lb ft, all helpfully assisted by the 1.56kWh battery and 43bhp electric motor. It’s a self-charging hybrid - no plug-in here, unlike rivals such as the Captur. Hyundai reasons that if you want more of an electric experience, you can opt for the full EV Kona. The headline sprint takes 11.3sec and fuel economy is 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions 115g/km, efficiency figures that are within the margin of error when compared with those of competitors such the Toyota C-HR.