With it being daringly colored, and it being a crossover, could CJ ever be objective about the Hyundai Kona Hybrid?

It’s not all glamour, premium, or fast that we drive here. No, we’ve committed ourselves to expand what we test. With that, we decided to go with the proverbial flow and test more EVs, PHEVs, hybrids, and mild hybrids while at it. Hell, Nick even drove a fuel-cell car built by Hyundai. I gave the Hyundai Kona Hybrid a go and ended up pleasantly surprised. I’ll run you through just why.

Kona Hybrid update

What is it?

The Kona is Hyundai’s unconventional looking crossover that has been on the market since 2017. Parallel to their Ioniq, the brand offers an ICE, Hybrid, and EV versions of the car. The hybrid-flavor has only become available since last year. Sized in the C-segment, it measures up to cars like the Mazda CX-3. Prices start at 23.5k euros here in Belgium, with this car costing 35.3k euros due to it being full-option. The power unit is a marriage between a 1.6-liter petrol engine and a permanent magnet synchronous motor. Energy is carried in a 1.5 kWh battery that is stowed away under the backseats.

Lots of bang for your buck

Hyundai gives you a lot of car for your money. Heated and ventilated seats, HUD (the old skool one), and even adaptive cruise are present. Leather seats, albeit of lesser comfort than those of premium brands, are also optional in the Hyundai Kona. You’re not getting top-notch quality but rather a better than expected experience with lots of gizmos. This car was an eye-opener for me, wondering what the premium brands would have to do to stand out. Hyundai equipped this car with all sorts of safety options too, like BCW, ISWL, and RCCA.

Infotainment hooks up to Android Auto and Apple Carplay like a gem. Displayed on a nicely sized display of more-than-decent brightness and resolution, the brand placed it in a way that you don’t lose sight of the road too much when using it. The audio is very decent at normal volumes, higher up in the volume range it did miss some quality. But since I had the optional audio, I can’t say anything about the standard equipment.

The drive

The 141 horsepower, and 245 Nm, drivetrain in the Kona Hybrid is a refined one, to begin with. I barely noticed it switching from electric mode to old school petrol power. Hyundai has incorporated a unique dashboard into the hybrid that tells when and what mode you’re driving in. It even shows just how much throttle will make you switch from electric to petrol. That often meant too slow acceleration for me in pure electric mode. Floor this Kona and you’ll hit a hundred in 11.5 seconds, with both the engines working. This acceleration capability meant overtaking was no problem at all. Pushing the drivetrain hard did mean torque steer showed up relatively quickly but I’m guessing the average Kona driver won’t be doing this too often. Demanding the Kona Hybrid to work hard also translates into a lot of engine noise entering the cabin. And the robotized 6-speed transmission doesn’t like to work hard as well, demanding it to shift quicker with the paddles doesn’t make it much quicker either.

Not too bad of a drive

The rate of fuel consumption is determined by where you are using the Kona Hybrid the most. Use the car in a city environment and it will give you the lowest consumption by far. This has everything to do with the energy recuperation the car utilizes in the city. Transforming braking energy into juice for the electric engine. Besides that, the electric engine doesn’t have gears and that means it doesn’t like high speeds. It simply loves city traffic. Me driving the Kona meant a combination of 80, 100 kph, and city kilometers gave me a very decent consumption of 5.2L/100km overall.

The drive overall is a comfortable one with MacPhersons upfront and Multilink at the back. Not too soft and not stiff, the Kona Hybrid was surprisingly fun to throw over roundabouts at normal speeds. Body roll is minimal, but you’ll hit understeer very quickly when you start to push the car. The near 1400 kilograms are very eager to make the car slide away on the front axle, which was wearing the 225 sized tires on the car I drove. Heavy steering corrections did make the car respond accordingly, so no issues there. Braking was strong enough too.

Concluding

Hyundai has made more than a decent car with the Kona Hybrid, there’s no denying that. You get a lot of car for your money, and the quality overall is decent too. Hyundai has managed to create a car that has a premium feel to it in some areas but also a car that us lacking sophistication in other areas. It feels like a perfect 7 out of 10, like the best average you can get. As long as you don’t demand perfection, this car is never going to let you down.