Hyundai has been rather busy over the last year or so – updating just about its entire range, while also introducing brand-new models like the Bayon crossover and IONIQ 5 EV.
But within those updates has been the brand’s Kona crossover. Introduced in 2017, it’s now best known for the electric version that’s capable of a seriously impressive 300 miles on a single range. There’s been the introduction of a Hybrid version, along with a sporty ‘N’ model.
Yet Hyundai hasn’t forgotten about the standard Kona versions, which were key to this crossover’s initial success. So for 2021 there’s a new 1.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine that aims to boost both performance and efficiency, along with a series of design and technology tweaks that aim to make the Kona stand out more than ever. Against a vast range of rivals, though, does this Hyundai have what it takes?
As we’ve mentioned, you can have the Kona as both a full hybrid and EV, but within the regular line-up, there’s now just a single powertrain option – a mild-hybrid 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol, as found on the latest i20 and i30 hatchbacks.
Coming with a 48-volt battery and a clever six-speed manual gearbox that works electronically rather than with the typical mechanical linkage, it essentially means the engine can turn off when coasting, but will spring back into life as soon as either the brake or accelerator pedal is pressed.
The total setup delivers 118bhp and 172Nm of torque in all, so we’re not talking huge figures here, but it allows for a 0-60mph time of 11.7 seconds and a 112mph top speed. In terms of efficiency, Hyundai claims 46.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 138g/km.
Ride and handling
Hyundai has also made a range of tweaks to the way the Kona drives, and it’s certainly made it one of the more pleasant options in this segment as a result. The steering is direct, while the rider is comfortable and compliant, even when sitting on our test car’s relatively large 18-inch alloy wheels. Though a Ford Puma is sportier still, the Kona drives more like a hatchback than a crossover, which is certainly a good thing.
The engine itself isn’t a masterpiece though, as it lacks low-end grunt to get the Kona up to speed, though a ‘Sport’ setting does make things a little more responsive. The coasting function also doesn’t happen very frequently, and certainly lives up to its ‘mild’ hybrid billing, though is unobtrusive, and no worse off for having.
Interior and equipment
While the exterior of the Kona takes a bold approach – especially with its wide new grille and stacked lighting – the interior is far more reserved by comparison. While it’s not especially exciting, there’s still plenty to like – not least its high quality feel throughout. New ambient lighting and aluminium detailing also helps to add a more premium finish to what was already a pleasant interior. If you choose a higher-spec model you're also treated to a large 10.25-inch touchscreen and digital dial display of the same size, both of which are some of the best around in this class.
There are more practical cars available, though, with the 374-litre boot not really any bigger than a family hatchback like the Ford Focus, while rear seat room is quite cramped for adults too.
One area where the Kona doesn’t disappoint is when it comes to standard equipment, with even the base SE Connect trim level coming with 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Next up is the sportier-looking N-Line trim level, which gets a more aggressive bodykit, along with a Krell sound system and electric folding mirrors. High-spec Premium versions then bring heated heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and electric parking brake. Right at the top of the range, the Ultimate offers electric and ventilated front seats, LED headlights, a head-up display and sunroof.
Prices for the Kona kick off from £21,265, which is bang on the money considering the price of rivals and its standard equipment levels.
It’s models that are at the lower end of the spectrum that make the most sense, as prices climb to £26,165 if you want the top-spec Ultimate version. You’ll also save almost £3,000 with this model than choosing the Kona Hybrid.
Updates to the Hyundai Kona certainly make it better than ever. It’s a very good all-rounder, even in this entry-level engine, with a pleasant driving experience, attractive styling and high-quality interior.
Though other variants – especially the Electric models – are slightly more appealing, they too come at a price. So if you’d rather a version of this Hyundai crossover that sits at the more affordable end of the spectrum, this car is the one to go for.Enquire on a new Hyundai Kona