Hyundai Kona Review & Prices
The Hyundai Kona is well equipped and looks quite smart, but it’s not comfortable to drive and boot space is only average
What's not so good
Find out more about the Hyundai Kona
The Hyundai Kona is the company’s bid to muscle in on the ‘cool small SUV’ market, but while it’s available in a range of colours that can make your eyes water, it still can’t quite match the feel-good factor you get in the funky-looking Citroen C3 Aircross.
That’s at least partly because the Hyundai’s interior design is a little ordinary compared with the Citroen’s, although you can specify some bright coloured trims on more expensive models to add a hint of wow factor. Unfortunately, that’s like adding a few drops of orange food colouring to a glass of water – it might look like a glass of Irn Bru but it’s still going to taste pretty dull.
No matter how you jazz things up, though, more of a problem is the Kona’s practicality: it has a relatively small boot, and rear-seat knee room, while good, isn’t as generous as you’ll find in the C3. The Hyundai also misses out on the sliding and reclining rear seat that you get in the Citroen.
There are fewer complaints when it comes to the Hyundai’s infotainment. So long as you avoid entry-level S models, you get a relatively large infotainment screen that can mirror the display of your phone – for satellite navigation – and a handy reversing camera. The latter makes up for the slight blind spot you get out the back of the car, but aside from that you get a good view out and the controls are light – making it a good car for town driving.
The Kona has relatively firm suspension for a small SUV. This means it feels a touch on the sporty side for this type of car. The flip side is you feel the bumps in the road a lot more than in a SEAT Arona, which focuses more on comfort, something that is really far more important to most people buying this sort of car.
The Kona’s exterior looks a bit like a granny wearing a multicoloured shell suit and hiking boots – it’s eye-catching and rugged but not hugely stylish
Every Kona in the mainstream range (the electric and hybrid versions are reviewed separately) now uses the same 1.0-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine allied to mild hybrid technology. The motor delivers its power through a six-speed manual gearbox, and it makes the Kona quite lively to drive, even if there’s too much jitter from the suspension over anything but the smoothest of roads.
All Konas come with automatic emergency braking that can sense people and other cars – it will slam the brakes on hard if it detects an imminent collision.
Arguably the Hyundai’s biggest selling point – if you want years of hassle-free motoring – is its unlimited-mileage/five-year warranty. But the Hyundai Kona is hard to recommend when the Kia Stonic is basically the same car, is more stylish and has a longer seven-year warranty. There’s also a Hyundai Kona Electric and as an electric car, it’s a much better proposition, and if you don’t want to make the full switch to an EV, check out the Hyundai Kona Hybrid.
The Hyundai Kona has a RRP range of £18,290 to £28,550. Monthly payments start at £366. The price of a used Hyundai Kona on Carwow starts at £9,999.
All of the models in the main Hyundai Kona line-up use the same 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with mild hybrid technology. This means the difference in price between each trim level clearly defines what equipment you get rather than having a bearing on engine or gearbox.
The Kona line-up starts at SE Connect, then moves up to the N Line model. The jump to the Premium from there is only a few pounds, as it swaps some of the N Line’s equipment for other choice items. Should you want the Ultimate model, it will require shaking out a further four-figure sum from the piggy bank over the Premium trim.
The Hyundai Kona is as happy in corners as it is quiet on the motor, but versions on larger wheels feel every pothole in the road
For town use, the Hyundai Kona feels compact and easy to guide through narrow streets thanks to its compact size. It takes up about the same amount of road space as a Ford Fiesta and you have a raised driving position, which gives a good view of the road ahead.
Hyundai has styled the Kona with small windows set into the rear pillars, which helps when changing lanes or pulling out of angled junctions. You also get rear parking sensors with every model, as well as lane keep assist and lane following assistance to keep you a safe distance from the car in front in a queue.
The Kona comes with a hill hold function for the handbrake, which is useful when setting off on a road with a steep slope. All Konas come with a six-speed manual gearbox, which has a light shift and the foot pedals are also easy on the muscles to push down on.
With a tight turning circle, just the right amount of power assistance for the steering, and a comfortable driving position with a good range of adjustment, you might think the Kona sounds perfect. It’s close, but not quite there.
What holds the Kona back from a glowing report is the ride. The suspension is just too firm over all types of road, and it’s worse on cars fitted with the larger 18-inch alloy wheels rather than the 17-inch items.
Hyundai seems to have gone for a sporty feel for the Kona that’s at odds with its easy going nature, so it just feels a bit jiggly on anything but the smoothest streets.
On the motorway
The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine in the Kona with mild hybrid assistance offers 120hp. That’s bang on compared with others in this sector with similar engines. In the Hyundai, it means it gets up to speed with a brisk feel, so joining a motorway on the slip road is a simple move.
The six-speed manual gearbox has a smooth, light feel, and the engine has enough power so that you can leave it in top gear as you cruise along.
Hyundai fits every Kona with cruise control as standard, too, so long trips don’t have to feel tiring. This is helped by decent refinement at lower speeds, but on the motorway there’s more wind and road noise inside the Kona than you’ll hear in a Skoda Kamiq or Volkswagen T-Roc.
On a twisty road
There’s an eagerness to the way the Hyundai Kona drives on country roads that’s endearing. It turns into bends with confidence, though the steering is not quite as full of feel as a Ford Puma’s.
With drive to the front wheels only, there’s enough grip and poise for all but the most extreme conditions, though that’s something which will affect almost all cars of this type.
There’s a good spread of power from the engine, so you can leave the car to cruise in a higher gear or give it some revs and use the six-speed manual transmission to have some fun. The engine makes a pleasing sound when worked hard, but there’s a little too much road and wind noise for all-day comfort.
The same applies to the suspension, which is simply too hard on most roads. It might keep the body from tipping too far over in corners, but we’d rather have a more supple feel across lumpy surfaces.
The Kona works as the only car for a young family, but older kids will appreciate the extra space in the back of some others in this small SUV class
There’s a lot to like as you settle into the driver’s seat of the Hyundai Kona. For starters, the seat is set a bit higher than most others in this type of car, so you get that real sense of being in an SUV, even if it’s still quite compact on the outside. This gives a good view ahead and to the sides, and even to the rear through the large back screen.
Adjusting the seat position is simple with manual adjustment in most trims, or electric movement in the Ultimate that’s the top spec of Kona. All but the base level SE Connect also come with electric lumbar adjustment to help support your lower back for added comfort. Along with the two-way adjustable steering, it makes for a fine seating experience.
Hyundai has also thought through storage in the Kona. Just because it’s a smaller car doesn’t mean you have to leave big stuff behind, so the door pockets are capable of holding a big bottle. There’s a usefully big tray in front of the gear lever, cupholders in between the front seats, and a cubby with lid behind that. You’ll also discover the glovebox is bigger than most in the class.
Space in the back seats
In the back of the Kona, there’s just enough room for a couple of average height adults to sit in comfort. They’ll find sufficient head and knee room, but it’s not as good back here as in a Ford Puma or Skoda Kamiq.
The outer two seats are well shaped and have ISOFIX child seat mounts. In the middle, however, the bench is raised up and the cushion is quite narrow, so adults will soon find themselves with a numb posterior. And this is if they can fit in between the shoulders of those in the other two seats.
A high window line isn’t ideal for kids being able to see out, and the door pockets are small. The only other storage back here is a pair of netted pockets.
What the Hyundai Kona misses in outright load volume, it makes up for in its practical nature. The boot offers 374 litres of space with the rear seats occupied, which is enough for a few small suitcases or the weekly forage in the supermarket. By comparison, the Reault Captur offers 422 litres, the Peugeot 2008 has 434 litres and the Ford Puma is bigger still at 456 litres, although the Kia Stonic is only at 352.
The boot floor sits flush with the load sill to aid lifting heavy bags in and out. There are also four tether points to lash down loads and prevent them sloshing about the boot as you drive along.
Under the floor, Hyundai supplies a foam tray to keep smaller items like a handbag or laptop computer away from nosy passers-by.
The 60-40 folding rear seats top almost completely flat, which is ideal for carrying bigger stuff and there’s up to 1156 litres of cargo room.
The Kona’s interior is all very logical and simple to use, but why so many hard, dull plastic materials?
Unlike its bigger brother, the Tuscon, the Hyundai Kona goes with an unrelentingly basic look and feel for its interior style. We’re all for keeping it simple, but this is almost ridiculous in most trims of the Kona. Pick one of the higher spec cars and you can liven it up with some splashes of colour and different materials, but otherwise you’re confronted with a mass of black, hard plastic surfaces.
In the Kona’s defence, it’s all very well put together and we have no concerns about its durability. It’s just a shame it misses the style of, say, the Ford Puma or Renault Captur.
What all of this logical thinking offers is a dash display that’s very simple to read and use. Every Kona comes with a 10.25-inch digital instrument screen that shows speed and power used, with a centre section that you can set to different menus with the steering wheel controls. Only the Ultimate model is offered with a head-up display, which is also easy to see as you drive along.
The gear lever is a short reach away from the steering wheel and complements the fine driving position. We also like the simple mix of buttons and dials for the heater control, which are much simpler to use as you drive along than a Peugeot 2008’s that are worked through the infotainment screen.
As for the infotainment display itself, the entry-point SE Connect trim now comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen instead of the tiny 5.0-inch item it used to have. This screen has much better resolution and is easier to read and use on the move. It also works with the reversing camera and can be mated to your phone through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
In the other trim levels, the Kona has a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with sat nav included. We’d still use the navigation on our phone as Hyundai’s system is not quite as quick or intuitive, though it’s still very good if you can’t be bothered pairing your phone to the car.
The SE Connect trim for the Hyundai Kona comes with 17-inch alloy wheels as its only option. This results in it having the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in the range of 135g/km. The other Kona models ride on 18-inch alloys, with the Premium recording emissions of 137g/km, and the N Line and Ultimate coming in at 138g/km.
What this means when it comes to paying road tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty to give this levy its Sunday name, is you pay the same regardless of which Kona trim you choose.
For fuel economy, the SE Connect and Premium both return an official combined figure of 47.1mpg. In the N Line and Ultimate, that drops slightly to 46.3mpg, which is still on a par with other makes and models in this small SUV sector.
As well as six airbags as standard, the Hyundai Kona has rear parking sensors and camera included with every model. You need to choose an N Line or Ultimate to have front parking sensors, and these are not even an option for the other two trims.
The Ultimate is also the only Kona that comes with blind spot warning, and front and rear cross traffic alert. The N Line shares its intelligent speed warning with the Ultimate.
However, all Konas have lane keeping and lane following systems, automatic emergency braking, driver fatigue warning, and hill start assist. There’s also cruise control with speed limiter in every model.
There have been a couple of safety recalls issued by Hyundai for the Kona. One concerns the airbag control unit that might prevent the airbags from deploying. The other is for the brake and air conditioning tube that could suffer damage. All affected cars should have been dealt with by now.
In every other respect, the Kona has proved to be a very reliable, hassle-free car. It’s backed up by Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty from new.
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.