2019 Hyundai Kona Hybrid driven: price, specs and release date

If neither a petrol nor an electric Kona take your fancy, there’s now the Hyundai Kona Hybrid. How does it fare against the rest of the range and its small SUV rivals?...

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Becky Wells
28 August 2019

Hyundai Kona Hybrid

Priced from £22,495 | On sale September

Some things are just better with a bit of voltage behind them; think pencil sharpeners and kitchen whisks, for example. And Hyundai isn't new to this concept, already offering several hybrid and electric cars (and a hydrogen fuel cell model, just to show off). So now the brand has decided to use that expertise to create the Hyundai Kona Hybrid. 

Joining regular petrol-powered versions of the Kona and the impressive Kona Electric, it could be just the thing if you’re still a bit fretful about going in feet first with an electric car but are keen to lower your running costs and environmental impact. What's more, its arrival is timely, given that Hyundai recently decommissioned the diesel Kona.

Under the skin, the Kona Hybrid shares its engine and some other parts with the Kia Niro Hybrid – one obvious rival. The Toyota C-HR is another hybrid that prospective buyers are likely to be considering. However, the Kona also fits into our small SUV class, placing it in competition with conventionally powered models such as the Volkswagen T-Cross. Time to see how it stacks up.

Hyundai Kona Hybrid driving

2019 Hyundai Kona Hybrid on the road

Power comes from a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 43bhp electric motor, resulting in a claimed 0-62mph time of 11.2sec. That might sound a bit slow – especially considering even the Kona Electric will get there in 9.7sec and the 1.0-litre petrol Kona in 10.2sec. However, the Kona Hybrid has enough poke for the real world.

Sure, there isn't the same immediacy off the line that you get in the Kona Electric, but power is delivered smoothly and you can get up to motorway speeds with no real effort. It's just a pity that the engine sounds strained as the revs climb and that you hear plenty of wind and road noise while cruising.

Instead, it's around town where the Kona Hybrid is best. If you're gentle with the accelerator pedal, it can amble along quietly on electric power alone (at least for short periods), emitting just a slight whine from its motor. And while there's no way of locking it into electric mode (you have to let the car decide when to use the battery), it switches over smoothly and is even quite helpful, using information from the sat-nav to advise you when is best to lift off and save fuel.   

Hyundai Kona Hybrid wheels

As a bonus, a responsive six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is standard, in place of the whiny CVT 'box found in the hybrid C-HR. And while the Kona Hybrid isn't available with a proper manual alternative, unlike conventional rivals such as the T-Cross, there are paddles behind its steering wheel in case you fancy changing gears yourself.     

The brakes aren't as consistent as the T-Cross's, either. That's because, like all hybrids, the Kona recovers energy that would normally be lost when you're slowing down to recharge its battery. It's still easy to stop smoothly compared with the CH-R, though.

What's more, it handles decently, thanks to light, responsive steering and suspension that keeps body lean to a minimum. Plus, the ride is improved over the regular Kona's; you can feel smaller surface imperfections vibrating through your seat, but larger lumps and bumps unsettle the car less.

Just bear in mind that the T-Cross is still more comfortable, while we’d point you towards the Seat Arona for a really tidy-handling small SUV.

Hyundai Kona Hybrid interior

2019 Hyundai Kona Hybrid interior

The interior isn't much different from what you get in a regular petrol Kona, meaning there are some hard plastics around the bottom of the dashboard and on the centre console. However, smarter materials appear along the front of the dash, and Hybrid buyers can lift things further by speccing some coloured accents around the air vents and gear selector. 

There’s no real change to the amount of space inside, either, because the Kona was designed from the start to accommodate batteries. But that still leaves it cramped in the back compared with the Arona and T-Cross, and, unlike the latter, you don't get sliding rear seats to let you improve boot space. In previous tests, we’ve managed to get four carry-on suitcases inside the Kona, but the T-Cross swallows five even when its rear seats are in their most rearward position.

Hyundai Kona Hybrid rear seats

There are three trim levels on the Kona Hybrid, and even the cheapest (SE) is far from stingily equipped. It comes with cruise control, air conditioning, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights and a slightly laggy 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system.

Premium trim brings a 10.3in screen, lumbar adjustment, climate control and an upgraded stereo with steering wheel-mounted controls. Premium SE completes the range by adding part-leather upholstery, a head-up display, front parking sensors and automatic emergency braking.

A selection of Hyundai's Smart Sense packs are available to add further safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Next: Hyundai Kona Hybrid verdict and specs >

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