Model update: Hyundai Kona Hybrid
01 November 2023
| author: Sean Keywood
How will the new Kona perform when internal combustion is added back into the mix?
The new Hyundai Kona has been developed as an electric car for the first time – as we previously noted when we reviewed the Kona Electric. So, you might be wondering, have the other powertrain options in the lineup been compromised? To find out, we also spent time with a hybrid model.
The hybrid powertrain in question combines a 105-hp 1.6-liter gasoline engine with a 44-hp electric motor, with a total system output of 141 hp. That’s a bit of a downgrade over the electric versions, and while the hybrid’s acceleration is still fairly strong around town, the engine does need to work a little harder to get up to highway speeds. The hybrid powertrain comes with a six-speed DCT automatic gearbox, and this can affect refinement – when the Sport driving mode is selected, it holds the lower gears in a rather extreme way, and this also happens to a certain degree in Eco mode (strangely there is no Normal option), where we reached out a few times to manually change the shift paddles and reduce the revs, but we’re disappointed that these only work with Sport mode.
Ride quality is fairly good, and the car seems more suited to relaxed driving – there’s no unnecessary roll in corners but it feels a bit big and heavy, with lifeless steering and a disengaged brake pedal that makes it difficult to gauge the amount of force applied.
Driving on narrow UK country roads, we also found the intrusive lane beeps to be annoying – and we were strangely warned to take a break from driving when we’d only been on the road for ten minutes. We also experienced the ergonomic annoyance of this reviewer’s size 11 shoe sticking to a metal plate on the steering column when using the brake pedal (not an issue with the electric version we drove at the international launch, which had this plate mounted much higher up – we’re not sure if this was an issue Specific to the powertrain or right-hand drive shift problem).
Aside from that, most of the great interior features from the electric version apply here too, like the roomy interior (and roomy trunk) and the two impressive 12.3-inch screens. Our hybrid test car was in the sport-inspired (albeit purely cosmetic) N Line equipment grade, which (in addition to exterior styling features like side skirts and dual exhaust tips) gives you some red detailing around the interior and aluminum pedals. However, the trim is generally quite supple with this specification, with the hard finish of the driver’s door armrest being particularly disappointing.
In terms of running costs, the hybrid cannot compete with BIK’s 2% car tax rate for the electric variant, but on a cost-per-mile basis, it runs cheaper thanks to the lower P11D. The Kona also slightly outperforms hybrid SUV alternatives like the Honda HR-V and its cousin the Kia Niro (as opposed to the EV versions). However, despite being more expensive, overall we’d say the Kona Electric is actually the more compelling option.
Hyundai Kona 1.6 Hybrid In Line
P. 11 d: £31,595
Residual value: 52%
Service, maintenance and repair: £2,393
Cost per mile: 40.22 p
oil consumption: 60.1 mpg
CO2(BIK%): 106 g/km (26%)
20/40% per month: £137 / £274
Baggage capacity: 466 litres
Engine size/power: 1,580 cc / 141 hp