Hyundai Kona 1.6

Hybrid Ultimate

Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, front
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, front, action
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, side
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, side
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, rear
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, rear, action
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, interior
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, instrument panel
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, display screen
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, parking camera
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, gear lever
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, cup holder
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, engine
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, rear seats
Hyundai Kona Hybrid, 2024, boot

WHAT a difference! The latest Hyundai Kona has cast off its Plain Jane visage for a smooth and stylish set of clothes, loads more cabin space and dash of hybridisation.

The result is a bold and efficient response to rivals such as the excellent Ford Puma and the recently revamped Nissan Juke.

There's a range of engines, but here we drive the full hybrid 1.6-litre knocking out 139bhp. A sub-compact SUV with between 130bhp and 150bhp generally proves to be the optimum power for providing brisk acceleration allied to decent economy.

Like most self-charging hybrids, the Kona comes with automatic transmission. In the case of the Kona, it's a six speed twin clutch system. In Ultimate guise it gets sliding glass sunroof, Bose sound system, interior ambient lighting, heated front seats and steering wheel plus two tone leather seating.

With a price tag of £34,000 for the Ultimate version, it throws down a gauntlet to the established competition.

The first thing you notice is its smooth, clutter free nose and matching hindquarters - lighting bands front and rear give it a futuristic appeal and make rivals appear distinctly old-school. Inside, the longer overall length and wheelbase benefit passenger legroom.

Inside, the cabin is smart and appropriately contemporary with a pair of 12.3-inch displays set in a large, curved panel in front of the driver and extending towards the passenger side. It's tastefully laid out and the touchscreen controls are easier to master than many.

It's not only the passengers that benefit from extra room. Their luggage space is more generous too. Boot size is up from 374 litres to 466 litres, making it one of the most roomy models in its class.

It's a comfy car for short hops or long distances, partly due to good composure, and also well shaped seating both front and rear. Those in the front are electrically operated.

You'll find that much of the gentle town motoring is carried out in electric mode from the 1.56kWh battery and 43bhp motor. On the open road, the combustion engine kicks in noticeably. Engine noise is relatively subdued unless full throttle is applied, and wind noise is particularly low.

Pedal the Kona cautiously and you'll get close to the 50mpg mark, but use the revs and drive briskly - as we did - and this shrinks to around 40mpg.

For a middle-of-the-road, compact high rider, the Kona's steering and handling is way above expectations. It turns into bends well and the steering is fast and accurate. Some humps and bumps can disturb its composure but, in the main, it corners athletically with well controlled roll angles and the ride on 18-in alloys is first rate.

If you're travelling through windy roads, it's worth selecting Sport mode which sharpens up responses and increases the fun factor. Hyundai has generously fitted steering wheel paddles for added driver satisfaction - a feature more commonly fitted to larger, more expensive automatics.

Exciting visually and satisfying to drive, the latest Kona is among the best sub-compact SUVs on the market.

£34,225

1.6-litre, 139bhp, 4 cyl petrol hybrid engine driving two via automatic gearbox

99mph

11.2sec

60.1

19

105g/km

23%

5 years

4.6 (out of 5)

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