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View all Hyundai Kona reviews
Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9

Hyundai's smallest SUV bristles with appeal and funkiness

Hyundai Kona SUV (17 on) - rated 3.9 out of 5
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PROS

  • A large number of personalisation options
  • Top models have loads of kit
  • Comfortable and satisfying to drive
  • High-quality, well-built interior

CONS

  • Prices high if you want sat-nav
  • Coarse and thirsty 1.6-litre petrol
  • Love-it-or-hate-it styling
  • Tight rear seats and boot

PROS

  • A large number of personalisation options
  • Top models have loads of kit
  • Comfortable and satisfying to drive
  • High-quality, well-built interior

CONS

  • Prices high if you want sat-nav
  • Coarse and thirsty 1.6-litre petrol
  • Love-it-or-hate-it styling
  • Tight rear seats and boot

Hyundai Kona SUV rivals

Nissan
Juke
3.5 out of 5 3.5

Named after a district in Hawaii, the Hyundai Kona is the Korean firm’s entry-level SUV, slotting in the range below the Tucson and Santa Fe. It's cast very much in the mould of a barrage of rivals from Europe and Japan – question is, would you buy this car over such talented opposition?

The big sellers in this market are the Nissan Juke, Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and the Mazda CX-3, but there are interesting alternatives further down the sales charts. The SEAT Arona, and Citroen C3 Aircross have also made a great impression.

But if anyone can do it, it's Hyundai. With the good-value ethos of the brand, solid build and reliability, long warranty and great dealers, it's a rational choice for most family car buyers. Toughest competition might well come from the Kona’s sister model, the Kia Stonic, which shares its petrol engines and lots of other technology under the skin. And it has a seven-year warranty, compared with the Kona's five.

Stylish and highly configurable

The Kona offers customers a broad choice of powertrains. There are a pair of petrol engines (118 and 177hp) to choose from, and new for 2019 is a hybrid powertrain. This combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 32kW electric motor. There were two diesel engines on offer - but they were discontinued in the summer of 2019.

These variants should satisfy the needs of most family car buyers in this market. Also available is the Parkers New Car Awards-winning Hyundai Kona Electric, which is covered in a separate review.

This is an important car for Hyundai, as it continues a number of new visual themes, introduced in the latest-generation i30 hatchback, albeit with a radical Citroen-esque vibe. It rides on a modified version of the i20 hatchback’s platform which is shared with the closely related Stonic.

Majoring on style and configurability, the Kona features controversial styling that some drivers will love and others will hate – like the Nissan Juke, which spearheaded the small crossover sector – in a deliberate move to draw new buyers to the brand. The twin-layer front lights, contrasting roof and side cladding are all now established small-SUV styling themes.

Channelling its power to the road, the Kona will come with chunky alloy wheels up to 18 inches in diameter for a rugged look. Reasonably high ground clearance of 170mm for the Kona means that you should be a little less likely to scrape the underside of this Hyundai when negotiating steep, bumpy driveways or heading down rutted campsite roads than with a conventional hatchback.

Which is better: petrol or hybrid?

As always with this question, it depends on your needs. The Kona comes with a range of turbocharged engines – consisting of 1.0-litre and 1.6-litre petrols plus, a hybrid. Cheapest is the 1.0-litre 120hp petrol, while the most economical is the 139hp hybrid. All engines have been tuned for low engine speed punch to make them easy to drive with palatable fuel economy. Expect just above 50mpg for the 1.0-litre petrol and just under 40mpg from the 1.6-litre.

The hybrid's official WLTP figure is between 52.3 and 56.5mpg, and on our test drive, admittedly within the flat confines of The Netherlands, it easily achieved this.

Meanwhile, the most powerful – the 177hp 1.6-litre petrol – comes with all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch automatic gearbox as standard and is capable of accelerating to 62mph in a brisk 7.9 seconds. That makes this a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing, and an unlikely way of surprising hot hatch drivers on the road.

If you're after the most economical Kona that'll be the discontinued diesel. The lower powered diesel should return 67.3 mpg, making it the most fuel efficient of the lot.

Seriously funky outside and in

2019 Hyundai Kona cabin design

It looks striking on the outside. The slim day-running lights (DRLs) are a new Hyundai feature, neatly house incorporated turn signals and are positioned in a stack, separate to the full-LED headlamps which come as standard on the top-spec models. At the back, you get a set of LED lamps on range-topping models, with the slim tail lights being supplemented by separate clusters housing the brake lights, indicators and reversing lamps. It’s a similar arrangement to that employed on the Kia Sportage.

It’s de-cluttered inside, with a split-level dashboard that leaves the touchscreen media system display appearing to float above it. It’s a set-up that debuted in the i10 and i30, and which simplifies the way the heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls work. Hyundai has been working hard to perfect the ergonomic experience of its mainstream cars.

How to make your Hyundai Kona fit you perfectly

Like the Nissan Juke, the Hyundai Kona allows you to personalise your car with bright paint colours, contrasting roof tones and zingy interior trim. Buyers can choose from a wide range of hues including lime green and bright orange to help make their car stand out.

On the inside coloured stitching and similarly saturated accents on the steering wheel, around the gearlever and on the seat belts should help you to tailor the Kona to your tastes.

Hyundai Kona SUV rivals

Nissan
Juke
3.5 out of 5 3.5