Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level 1.0-litre petrol (badged 1.0 T-GDi) has a respectable 118bhp, but performance is best described as 'pedestrian'. It takes a length 11.9sec to hit 62mph from a standstill, so is slower than nearly all of its direct rivals. It stops shot of being frustratingly sluggish, though.
The Hybrid version is certainly quicker. It's powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor, which together pump out up to 139bhp. The boost from the electric motor is available from a standstill, giving nippy acceleration off the mark, and you can drive on electric power alone at low speeds for short distances.
Head out of town and the petrol engine joins in smoothly to help take you up to motorway speeds with no real effort, although outright acceleration is still fairly sluggish compared with a Ford Puma mHEV 155.
Suspension and ride comfort
The ride in the Hyundai Kona is probably best described as 'choppy'. Its relatively firm suspension, combined with a small footprint and a fairly tall body. means you are jostled around when driving along any road that isn't perfectly smooth. This can get annoying after a while.
Avoiding big the 18in alloy wheels that come with Premium, N Line and Ultimate trims helps matters, but even then the Kona can't come close to matching the Volkswagen T-Roc for comfort. Indeed, even sportier alternatives, such as the Ford Puma, are quite a bit smoother.
Unfortunately, the experience isn't remotely entertaining because the steering is overly light and feels somewhat disconnected from the front wheels. The Kona is also easily knocked off line by mid-corner bumps, which saps your confidence if you're driving quickly along a country road.
Noise and vibration
As we've said already, the Hybrid version can power itself using just its electric motor for a limited time at low speeds. That means crawling along in traffic is a peaceful experience.
Even when the petrol engine does cut in to help out, it does so reasonably smoothly. Indeed, it's only when you ask for a quick burst of acceleration that the engine becomes quite buzzy.
At motorway speeds, the Kona generates more wind and road noise than the best small SUVs, including the Volkswagen T-Roc. The brake pedal on the Hybrid version takes a bit of getting used to; it's hard to judge how much pressure to apply. This is the case on a lot of other hybrid-powered cars and can make it hard to slow down smoothly.
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