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Hyundai

Hyundai Kona Hybrid, dynamic
Hyundai Kona hybrid, front
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, front
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, rear
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, interior
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, boot

WHILE the Hyundai Kona electric has grabbed all the headlines with its excellent 280 mile range and fast charging capability, like all electric cars it's expensive.

With the government bringing forward the deadline when no more petrol or diesel cars will be produced, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, electric car development is bound to accelerate and production increase.

But as of now, the majority of electric cars are beyond the scope of everyday car users and are likely to remain so for some years.

The government can exhort us to go down the electric route as much as they like. If we can't afford the cars, we're not going to do it.

Perhaps because the electric model is pricey at £38,000, Hyundai has introduced a mild hybrid petrol/electric version of the Kona priced from £24,300 that could be of more interest.

The Kona is based on the latest i30 hatch, but has raised suspension and black plastic cladding to give an SUV look.

And it does look good from every angle, with a funky outline and a strong personality of its own.

The hybrid version comes with the 1.6 petrol engine available in other models, plus an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, giving a total power output of 140bhp.

It's front wheel drive - there's only one 4x4 non-hybrid version at the top of the range - and drive is through a six-speed twin clutch automatic gearbox.

The whole works very well, giving good performance when required, although the petrol engine is a little on the rough side when pushed for revs.

At normal speeds, all is quiet and refined with very smooth gearchanges and seamless transition from low speed electric power to petrol.

It will trickle along on a very light accelerator in electric drive only, lighting up an EV green light in the binnacle.

But even if there's plenty of power in the battery, it's very hard to keep it running just on that because the petrol engine cuts in very early.

In normal driving the battery is charged under braking and when the car is cruising. When its up to capacity, the electric motor helps the petrol to save emissions and fuel.

And of course, the two power units combine for best acceleration, giving a decent turn of speed.

The gearbox works well in fully automatic Drive, but there are also Sport and Manual settings. Sport really makes a difference, giving a much more immediate response at any speed and giving a sporting feel.

But manual seems in a car like this to be superfluous, as there is no gain in using it.

There is no rev counter. Instead there's an economy meter showing how well you're driving, which also shows how much power is in the battery and when it's being charged.

The road-holding is very good and it really clings to the road surface, but I found the steering a little uninformative, which let it down somewhat.

Unfortunately, low speed comfort is not as good as I expected. It bangs and crashes over poor surfaces, transmitting every cat's eye and ripple through to the posterior.

This could have been because it was fitted with large wheels and low profile tyres, a common cause, and also perhaps because of the extra weight of battery and electric motor.

Above 40 miles an hour, the ride was much better and quite acceptable but then another problem appeared - terrible tyre noise from the many tar and chipping surfaces we all drive over these days.

All that said, it averaged an excellent 47 miles per gallon while I had it - I wasn't trying particularly hard - and it has very low emissions.

Equipment in the Premium model I drove includes keyless entry and starting, stability control, internal headlamp beam adjustment, multi function leather covered steering wheel and supportive comfortable seats.

It was also fitted with lane departure warning, but I found this so intrusive and annoying, that I turned it off.

Other equipment includes sat nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to connect phones etc., parking sensors and camera at the rear, alarm, cruise, loads of airbags and a DAB radio with aux in.

FAST FACTS

Price:£24,300

Mechanical:141bhp, 1,580cc, 4cyl petrol engine plus electric motor driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 99mph

0-62mph: 11.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 72

Insurance Group: 10

C02 emissions: 99g/km

Bik rating:23%

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