- Lots of standard features
- Good reputation for reliability
- Hybrid and electric models available
- Interior not as stylish as the exterior
- Boot space is limited
- Some safety features only with high-spec trim
The Hyundai Kona is a compact, stylish SUV - you might also call it a crossover - that’s one of the most appealing cars of its type. Not only is it a cost-effective choice, it’s also good to drive, well equipped and available with bang-up-to-date tech.
There’s a variety of Kona models to suit a variety of needs, from petrol or diesel models to plug-in hybrid and even fully electric versions. You can choose between models equipped manual or automatic gearbox options, too, and between two and four-wheel drive.
As with many Hyundais, the interior of the Kona feels well built, and you’ll get plenty of equipment to keep you entertained and comfortable, with air con and DAB radio standard on all models.
The high-set infotainment screen means you can operate it with only minimal distraction from the road ahead. Some of the top-end versions come with a head-up display that projects key information like your speed onto the windscreen in front of you to make things simpler still. That’s quite an unusual feature in this type of car.
The Kona is about the same size as rivals such as the Peugeot 2008 and Nissan Juke. Like those cars, it’s a five-seater that’s roomy enough for a small family. You get 361 litres of boot space in the entry-level Kona, but this drops to 334 litres in other models, including the Kona Electric. Either way, that’s about the same as you get in hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus and it’s enough for three medium suitcases.
The Kona is easy to drive in town thanks to its light steering and good views of what’s around you. All but the most basic models come with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. It’s relaxing on long journeys thanks to its smooth ride and the fact that you don’t get much noise inside at speed. Even the lowest-powered petrol versions feel nippy, while the diesel models also have plenty of oomph.
The petrol-electric hybrid model is responsive and it allows you to make short journeys using electric power alone. The pure electric model gives you great acceleration and has a battery range of up to 300 miles between charges. That’s more than you get with most rivals. Models with four-wheel drive provide extra security in slippery conditions and are handy if you often tow a small trailer or caravan.
The Kona costs much the same as most other compact SUVs but it’s particularly well equipped. The small petrol engine has an official average of 44mpg, while the more powerful petrol model, with four-wheel drive, will only give you around 34mpg.
The diesel versions are very fuel-efficient, while the hybrid has a very impressive official average of 56.5mpg. The electric version has the potential to save you a lot of money in tax and fuel costs compared with a petrol or diesel alternative.
Automatic emergency braking is only standard-fit on the very top-spec models, but it is available as an option on other trim levels. So it will pay to check that the used car you are looking at came with the Safety Pack when brand new.
Overall, though, the Kona is a safe choice and it scored an impressive five stars in the Euro NCAP safety assessment programme.
In terms of reliability, the Hyundai brand came third overall in the 2019 JD Power UK Vehicle Dependability Study – an impressive result.
Best for economy - 1.6 CRDi diesel / 1.6 Hybrid
Best for family - 1.0 T-GDi SE
Best for fun - 1.6 T-GDi 4WD
All Konas are well equipped, with a touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, air con and cruise control even on the most basic models. That said, the most basic versions don’t feature rear parking sensors, a reversing camera or Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The smaller petrol engines will suit most buyers while the diesels are a better bet if you cover lots of miles – more than 12,000 per year – as the extra fuel efficiency comes into its own.
The hybrid and full-electric models will be very cost-effective if you are going to be making lots of shorter journeys.