The 1.0-litre is expected to prove the most popular engine in the Kona, with middling SE and Premium trims proving the most sought after. That’s because the 1.0-litre engine is a better choice for most drivers than the 1.6-litre petrol and prices are a bit more palatable than top-spec models.
It’s not the cheapest, especially compared with rivals such as the SEAT Arona, but you get kit including sat-nav, which is lacking on the less pricey versions.
Spending more on the top-of-the-range Konas, however, feels a bit reckless, however, as you can get larger, more spacious and more powerful SUVs for similar money.
The 1.6-litre petrol, meanwhile, feels like a niche choice for those who adore the looks of the Kona and have to have an automatic gearbox or all-wheel drive. But the price is too high, the engine too coarse and the interior too cramped to warrant the steep price.
The Best Hyundai Kona SUV models
Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh Premium SE automatic (Tested: July 2018 by Keith WR Jones)
Given that you can buy the Hyundai Kona with petrol and diesel engines, it’s very much a sign of the times that the most appealing package is the fully electric version, and specifically the one with the larger 64kWh battery.
It’s easy to spot the Kona Electric alongside it’s more conventionally propelled siblings. First-up, that moustache-like upper (dummy) grille is gone, while the larger lower grille gives way to a dimpled blank panel, the right-side of which hides the charging port.
Additionally, the bumpers are reprofiled and it’s finished in a range of colours unique to the Electric model, with two-tone finishes available.
Inside there are more changes, with paler finishes available for the grey plastics, and a high-set centre console, similar to that of the Hydrogen-fuelled Nexo, complete with a push-button transmission selector.
Utilising the power from that 64kWh battery pack is a 204hp electric motor driving the front wheels. Take-off, thanks to the instantaneous is smile-inducingly brisk, with an unlikely 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds – it’s a car that will embarrass many a GTI not worthy of the badge at traffic lights.
Like other fully electric cars, it’s a refined, quiet and a doddle to drive, but unlike its chief protagonist – the Nissan Leaf – there’s a greater range of adjustability in the driving position allowing for a greater degree of comfort behind the wheel.
Bursts of acceleration aside, it’s not especially exciting to drive, but it doesn’t do anything incompetently. Cornering lines are easy to maintain and bodyroll is kept neatly in check, thanks largely to the low-slung position of the batteries at the base of the car.
Should it suit your driving style, the Kona Electric’s brakes can be dialled-up in terms of their energy recuperation properties. In their highest setting, the Hyundai can be driven as a one-pedal car – lifting off the accelerator will activate the brakes to such a degree that you rarely touch the actual brake pedal at all.
This is a similar operation to Nissan’s E-Pedal on the Leaf, but the action feels less aggressive in its operation. Plus, if you find it too much, you can dacker down the effect by pulling on the paddle on the right-side of the steering wheel. Similarly, pulling on the left-handed one increases it again.
The Parkers verdict
Not only is the Kona Electric the pick of the small Hyundai SUV line-up, it’s the best mainstream electric car currently available.
Yes, it’s a tad smaller than the Leaf, but it feels a better-rounded product, with a more pleasing driving experience.
Plus, in this 64kWh form, it has a claimed range of 300 miles. Sure, that’s unlikely in the real world, but based on the driving route of our test on Norwegian motorways, you’d be hard-pressed to get much less than 220 miles out of it.
Hyundai could have a winner on its hands, with the only fly in the ointment being the price – in range-topping Premium SE guise it costs £31,795 once the government’s plug-in car grant has been deducted, which is still a lot for a supermini-sized SUV.
Then again, each recharge is likely to cost you less than £9.00 at current energy prices – significantly less than a petrol- or diesel-drinking Kona will cost you.
Hyundai Kona SE 1.0 T-GDI - tested November 2017
Despite the Kona’s comprehensive range – made up of S, SE, Premium, Premium SE and Premium GT – it’s the second-rung SE that’s expected to be the most popular of the lot, paired with the turbocharged 1.0-litre T-GDI three-cylinder petrol.
In this guise it’s a reasonably priced crossover with a huge amount of competition, taking on everything from the SEAT Arona and Kia Stonic, to the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.
The 1.0-litre petrol engine is available across most of the Kona range, and feels a suitable fit.
Despite the small capacity, it’s more than capable of hauling the Kona around town, feeling nippy and responsive at lower speeds, but is up to the job of making quicker progress on faster roads – just as long as the car isn’t full of passengers and luggage, as the 12.0-second 0-62mph time is already quite leisurely.
On a twisty road, the Kona’s stiffer suspension set-up (compared with other small crossovers) means body control is very good, with little roll felt through the bends.
Couple that with well-weighted steering that feels responsive, and it’s an enjoyable car to chuck around. The slick manual gearbox helps with this impression, too.
However, that stiffer set-up equates to a firm ride, even on smoother road surfaces. The Kona picks up a lot of bumps in the road, but it’s never too jarring or uncomfortable – just more noticeable than in something like a SEAT Arona.
Stick with an SE for smaller 17-inch wheels compared with higher-spec 18s, as this offers a slighty more balanced and compliant sensation.
SE trim brings a good amount of equipment for the money, though. Outside, it comes with a body-coloured roof (higher-spec models get a contrasting black top) and LED daytime-running lights, while inside there’s a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, while manual air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera also feature on the kit list.
Quality inside is good, if not class-leading. It all feels solid and like it’ll last a long time, but there aren’t many softer-touch materials and it can feel quite grey and unexciting.
If you want some splashes of colour then you’ll need to move up the trim level hierarchy. It’s all very easy to use, though. The infotainment is bright, slick and well-placed, it’s easy to find a good driving position and the cloth seats on SE models are particularly comfortable.
All versions feature a driver attention alert system, lane-keeping assist, hill-start assist and downhill brake control, with more becoming available as you move up the range.
Space inside is decent for a small family, however taller adults may struggle slightly with legroom in the rear seats behind a taller driver.
Luggage space is 361 litres before you fold the seats down, so it’s not the most spacious (the SEAT Arona’s is 400 litres). It’s well-shaped though, and easy to access thanks to a square opening and a loading lip that isn’t too high.
The expected best-seller, the 1.0-litre T-GDI Kona SE could well be the sweet spot in the range. While it doesn’t have as much desirable kit as other models in the range and does without a two-tone paint job as standard, it does offer good value at less than £18,000.
It’s striking, one of the best crossovers to drive and offers enough space for a small family, making it worth a look if you’re in the market for such a car.
Hyundai Kona Premium SE 1.0 T-GDI - tested March 2018
The Hyundai Kona compact-SUV is available in five different trim levels, with Premium SE models featuring at the upper end of the range.
Excellent range of standard kit on Premium SE models
As well as the standard equipment offered on Premium-spec cars, including; an 8.0-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, climate control, keyless entry/ignition, cruise control and Bluetooth phone connectivity, Premium SE adds the following kit:
- Electrically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats with leather facings, a heated steering wheel and power folding door mirrors
- Front parking sensors (rear already standard), a head-up display and a rear centre armrest
- Blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert (RCTA)
Optional equipment on Premium SE models includes:
- Safety pack – consisting of autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition. (Note that this is available on all trim levels)
- A sunroof (not available with the two-tone roof colour scheme)
With such a vast array of standard kit, the top-spec Premium SE car will likely provide enough gadgets and luxuries for the vast majority of Konda customers.
As always for a family car, we would recommend paying extra for any additional safety kit on offer (in this case the Safety Pack), which includes the all-important autonomous emergency braking. Alternatively, upgrading to the top-spec Premium GT model adds the Safety Pack to the standard equipment list.
Despite boasting such a long list of equipment, however, the Kona’s interior fails to feel premium in any way. It stops short of being cheap and nasty, and there’s a reassuring solidity to the buttons and trim, but don’t be fooled into the thinking the high-spec will bring about a high-end interior.
Customers buying Premium SE Konas can also choose from a number of customisation options for the interior and exterior. For example, the two-tone roof is available in either Dark Knight or Phantom Black shades, while the interior can be decked out in a number of colour packs including Pulse Red, Tangerine Comet and Acid Yellow.
This adds colour highlights around areas such as the air vents, gearstick, starter button, seat trim piping and seatbelts. All provide a bold look that won’t be for everyone, although the individuality will be an appealing feature to some.
Three-cylinder engine is punchy, but needs to be worked hard
The 1.0-litre T-GDi three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine is the smallest and least powerful in the range, producing 120hp and 172Nm of torque. This translates into a 0-62mph time of 12.0 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.
However, don’t let the rather pedestrian performance figures put you off. This is a capable little engine that provides good in-gear pulling power and more than enough oomph for brisk overtakes on single carriageways. Just bear in mind that you will need work the engine hard to get the most out of it (peak power arrives at 6,000rpm), as it can feel slow if you’re not in the right gear.
This six-speed manual transmission is slick and accurate enough, although the ratios could be closer together, especially given the need to keep the engine in its optimum power band. Claimed average fuel economy is 54.3mpg, although you’re more likely to see around 40mpg in the real world.
Neat handling, although the ride could be more forgiving
Despite raised profile and high sides, the Konda is reasonably good fun on a twisty piece of road, neatly darting from corner to corner. Grip levels are high, with the usual occurrence of understeer (where the front of a car pushes wider than the intended line through a bend) if you go into a corner too hot.
It’s a shame then that the ride – on the 18-inch alloy wheels – is firmer than you’d expect for a family car, displaying an unforgiving nature over pockmarked roads. Thankfully, the good refinement levels are enough to stop the Kona from feeling uncomfortable overall, but key rivals manage to provide a more polished package.
The Parkers Verdict
Opt for the Premium SE trim and you’ll likely have all the equipment you’ll ever need – apart from, perhaps, the optional Safety Pack – plus the 1.0-litre T-GDi engine is a better all-round proposition than the 1.6-litre alternative.
If you’re after a better ride, SE models come with smaller 17-inch alloy wheels yet still boast a useful level of standard equipment.
- November 2017 – Kona goes on sale with two engines available – a 1.0-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre petrol. The smaller engine comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, while the larger unit features an automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive as standard.
- July 2018 - Diesel-engined versions available to order in all three trim levels. Powertrain choices are a 115hp 1.6-litre CRDi wiith a manual transmission and a 136hp version of the same motor with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
- August 2018 - Kona Electric available to order for late summer deliveries. Two battery sizes available - 39kWh and 64kWh - with a range of up to 300 miles for the larger capacity versions.
Buying a new Hyundai Kona SUV
Hyundai is known for offering strong customer service, so shopping for a new Kona should be a pleasant experience. There are enough dealers, too, that finding one within a reasonable distance shouldn’t be overly tricky.
Hyundai’s PCP offers aren’t always the best value, though. This means that you’ll have to push hard to make sure you get the best deal.
Meanwhile, if you are paying cash and intend to sell on your car in a few years, don’t go crazy with odd colour combinations. You might like orange paint with green interior trim, but this may make things tough when you come to sell.
Before shopping for a PCP finance deal, make sure you know what deposit you can afford, how long you want to keep the car for and how many miles you’re likely to cover over the length of the contract – as each of these affects your monthly payments.
It’s also good to have an idea of whether you might want to make the optional final payment to buy the car when the contract ends. Write these all down and take them along to dealers when looking for quotes to ensure they give you suitable quotes.
This should also ensure that you can compare quotes from one dealer directly with those from another.
Buying a used Hyundai Kona SUV
With a five-year transferable warranty, even those picking up a three-year old model get two years of cover, where they’d get nothing with numerous other brands. Hyundai has a good reputation for reliability, so even older models should prove reasonably trusty.
Approved used Hyundais make cost a little more, but they should be prepared to a high standard. The company also offers used car PCP finance with lower rates of interest than many other non-manufacturer dealers, which means these may be better value than expected, with reasonably low monthly payments.
Make sure you carry out a Parkers Car History Check to uncover any hidden history you should be aware of.
Selling your Hyundai Kona SUV
With a reasonable number of Konas vying for attention with yours, you’ll want to make sure you’ve cleaned it thoroughly and take a number of high quality photographs. Nothing puts off potential buyers like dark, grainy photos that only show small parts of the car.
Writing a short but detailed advert which shows info such as how many miles the car has covered, how many times it has been serviced and what equipment it has should also help.
If the car has any minor damage, getting this fixed could also give you a better chance of selling the car quickly – and for a higher price. The newer or more valuable the car is, the more benefit you should get from paying to have damage put right.
It’s worth getting a Parkers Valuation to make sure you price your car right, to avoid losing out.