What Car? says...
The biggest distinction between an SUV and a regular hatchback car is how far you sit from the road, but when does one become the other? That’s a matter of debate, but the Hyundai Bayon is pretty close to the line.
The Bayon is a small SUV which has, like the Skoda Kamiq, a surprisingly low driving position. While some buyers will undoubtedly prefer the loftier, more upright set-ups you find in, for example, the Citroën C3 Aircross and Volkswagen T-Roc, being squatter does give it some advantages over many of its rivals.
For one thing, it’s more aerodynamic. That, along with the mild-hybrid technology that comes as standard on all engines, helps it pump out less CO2 than many of its peers. Being shorter (the roofline is around 10cm lower than the C3 Aircross’s) is also likely to give it a lower centre of gravity, which in turn should make it more agile.
In terms of the Hyundai line-up, the Bayon sits below the more expensive and not vastly bigger Kona, but while you can get a pure electric Kona, you have to put petrol in the tank of your Bayon whichever version you go for.
So, how does this small SUV compare with its key rivals, including the C3 Aircross, Ford Puma and VW T-Roc? That’s what we’ll be investigating this review, as well as telling you what it's like to drive, how good it is for practicality and what the running costs will be like.
Once you've decide which make and model of car is for you, make sure you get it for the best price by using the free What Car? New Car Buying service. It can help you secure a healthy discount without any haggling and currently features plenty of good Hyundai Bayon deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Bayon is available with a choice of two 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engines. The cheaper option (badged 1.0 T-GDi 100) can do 0-62mph in a respectable 10.7sec, so we suspect it’ll be up to the job.
As yet, though, we’ve tried only the more powerful 1.0 T-GDi 120. This will get you to 62mph more quickly, although only by 0.3sec. It pulls well from low revs and the six-speed manual gearbox that comes as standard on all Bayons has a light action and is reasonably precise. We’ve yet to sample the optional automatic.
The Bayon’s 48-volt mild hybrid system undoubtedly helps it use less fuel, as we’ll explain in more detail later on. However, it could be more user-friendly. The engine can be reluctant to restart if you’re too quick with the clutch when engaging first gear before pulling away, forcing you to repeat the process with greater deliberation. It’s a small quirk but can prove quite frustrating in traffic. The technically similar mild hybrid system in the Ford Puma is much more agreeable.
The Bayon actually leans slightly less than the Puma when you’re cornering quickly, but it isn’t as playful or fun, and its steering, while light and easy to twirl at low speeds, fails to provide a real sense of connection with the road when you’re going quickly. It’s still heaps better to drive than the Citroën C3 Aircross, though; the latter sways around like a boat by comparison.
Ride comfort is also good by class standards and certainly better than the fidgety C3 Aircross or comparatively firm Puma. That said, the Bayon can’t quite match the smooth, sophisticated ride of the Skoda Kamiq or VW T-Roc – the best options in this class if comfort is a priority.
The Bayon isn’t as quiet as those alternatives at motorway speeds, either, although you do hear a bit less road and wind noise than you would in a C3 Aircross.
The interior layout, fit and finish
As we said at the start, the Bayon doesn’t levitate you as far from the road as a Citroën C3 Aircross or even a Ford Puma, something many potential buyers will consider a bad thing. After all, if you like a low-slung driving position with your bum close to the Tarmac, why would you pay a premium for an SUV?
Indeed, you don’t feel noticeably higher than you would in a Ford Fiesta or VW Polo. But if you aren’t put off by this, the Bayon’s driving position isn’t bad at all; there’s a good amount of seat and steering wheel adjustment and the pedals line up neatly with the steering wheel. Our only gripes are that taller drivers might find that the edge of the seat squab digs into their hamstrings, and that there’s no option to have adjustable lumbar support on any trim level.
At least the dashboard is easy to use and the 8.0in touchscreen that’s fitted to SE Connect models is quick to respond to presses. You also get a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard. Upgrading to Premium trim gains you a larger, 10.3in screen with a built-in sat-nav function, plus wireless phone charging. However, our experience with the larger screen hasn’t been great so far, due to sluggish response times and consistent software crashes.
Over-the-shoulder visibility is compromised by the Bayon’s chunky rear pillars, but all models come with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors to help mitigate this. Seeing out of the front isn’t a problem, and only entry-level SE Connect models miss out on LED headlights for theoretically better visibility at night – although we haven’t tried the entry-level halogen headlights yet.
The Bayon is little more alluring inside than the i20 hatchback on which it’s based. That means there’s precious little in the way of soft-touch, upmarket materials and the slab of hard plastic across the face of the dashboard feels decidedly low-rent. Admittedly, rivals like the Puma and C3 Aircross are hardly plush inside, but they do edge the Bayon for perceived quality.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
There’s plenty of space in the front, so even tall people are unlikely to have any issues with head room or how far the seats slide back.
The Bayon edges rivals such as the Citroën C3 Aircross and Ford Puma for rear knee room, too – and by enough for taller people to notice. There’s also plenty of head room and interior width, so squeezing three adults in the back isn’t comical. Our only grumble is that there isn’t much foot space under the seats in front when they’re set to their lowest setting.
The rear seatbacks split and fold in a 60/40 arrangement, just as they do in the Puma. However, there are no other clever tricks like the sliding rear seats you get in the C3 Aircross and VW T-Cross. Or the fold-flat front passenger seat that’s available in the former.
We managed to fit five carry-on suitcases in the Bayon’s boot (below the parcel shelf), which isn’t bad by class standards. Mind you, the C3 Aircross took six, the Skoda Kamiq seven and the Puma eight – so clearly there are better choices if you need to carry lots of luggage around.
All versions come with a height-adjustable boot floor as standard which, when slotted into its highest position, means there’s no step in the floor of the extended load bay when the rear seats are folded down – only a very gentle slope.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
There are certainly cheaper options in the small SUV class; the Bayon’s starting price hovers above those of the Citroën C3 Aircross and Skoda Kamiq. However, the Bayon is cheaper than an equivalent VW T-Roc.
PCP finance rates vary frequently depending on offers from Hyundai, but you can generally expect to pay more per month for a Bayon than an equivalent C3 Aircross or Puma. Don't forget to use the free What Car? New Car Deals service to find the best prices available.
In our real-world tests, the 1.0 T-GDi 120 with a manual gearbox averaged 42.1mpg – better than the C3 Aircross Puretech 110 (39.1mpg) managed but a way behind the Puma 1.0 Hybrid 155’s 44.7mpg. The Bayon does officially emit less CO2 than both of those alternatives, though, which helps benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bills for company car drivers.
Go for entry-level SE Connect trim and, as well as the visibility aids and infotainment gadgetry we discussed earlier, you also get 16in alloys, air conditioning, cruise control and dusk-sensing headlights, while upgrading to Premium trim brings larger (17in) alloys, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control and heated front seats.
Range-topping Ultimate trim is pretty pricey but does get you keyless entry and start – useful features that aren’t available on cheaper trims.
All trims get plenty of safety kit, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and a system that monitors driver fatigue. If you want blindspot monitoring, you’ll need to go for Ultimate trim; this feature isn’t even optional on SE Connect or Premium. At the time of writing, the Bayon hadn’t been appraised for its ability to protect occupants in a crash.
It’s also too early for us to give you a good steer on reliability, although in the 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey, Hyundai finished in fourth place (out of 30 manufacturers) in the overall league table. You also get a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty as standard – better cover than what's offered on rivals.
|RRP price range||£21,320 - £26,820|
|Number of trims (see all)||3|
|Number of engines (see all)||2|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||52.3 - 53.3|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||5 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£1,180 / £1,488|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£2,359 / £2,975|