Review: Hyundai Kona (2017)

Rating:

Affordable crossover SUV. Five year warranty as standard. Five star Euro NCAP rating.

Cramped and cheap cabin. Poor ride quality on larger wheels. Uninspiring engine choices.

Recently Added To This Review

26 October 2019

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8 August 2019 Hyundai Kona Hybrid prices announced

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2 August 2019 Hyundai Kona Play special edition announced

Priced from £18,355, the Kona Play builds on the SE with 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass and metallic or pearl paint. It's equipped with the 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine... Read more

Hyundai Kona (2017): At A Glance

The Hyundai Kona is an affordable and quirky rival to the SEAT Arona and Volkswagen T-Roc. However, while good to drive and value-packed, Hyundai's smallest and cheapest crossover falls short on quality with its cramped interior and poor ride making it an underwhelming daily driver.

Built in South Korea (not Europe), the Hyundai Kona crossover does have has some golden feathers in its cap when it comes to all-important value. Prices start in the region of £16,000 plus it gets a five year unlimited mileage warranty as standard. Equipment levels are good too with even basic models getting LED daytime running lights, DAB audio, touchscreen infotainment, a parking camera and cruise control. 

The Kona should be relatively inexpensive to fuel too, thanks to its efficient range of petrol engines. Most buyers will opt for the excellent turbocharged three-cylinder 1.0-litre T-GDI, which provides 120PS and 50+mpg according to the official figures. A more powerful 1.6-litre T-GDI is also offered, with 177PS, but lowers advertised economy to 42.2mpg. From mid-2018, Hyundai added a 1.6-litre diesel to the range - while there's also the excellent Hyundai Kona Electric for those looking for zero-emission motoring.

Whichever engine you opt for, the Hyundai Kona is surprisingly rewarding to drive. The steering is smooth and direct and the chassis stays flat though the corners, which means things generally are calm and composed, even when tackling the tightest of turns. However, owing to the rather firm set-up of the chassis, the ride quality can get bumpy and uncomfortable on 18-inch wheels. 

The interior is something of a mixed bag. The cabin is logically laid out and easy to use, but the abundance of thick and dark plastics give the Kona a low-rent, hire car feel. Buyers can spend extra on optional styling packs, to add coloured surrounds to the air vents and gear stick, but they do little to distract from the general cheap and dreary feel of the interior.

Legroom is poor for those sitting in the back too - and it's unlikely that adults will enjoy a long journey in the rear seats. To make matters worse, the front seatbacks are covered with more hard plastics which press uncomfortably on the knees.

As a value-focused crossover, the Hyundai Kona gets lots of things right, with its low running costs and comprehensive warranty being its two standout selling features. However, the cramped interior and so-so ride quality leave the Kona feeling distinctly short on quality and comfort compared to its rivals. 

What does a Hyundai Kona (2017) cost?

List Price from £21,605
Buy new from £18,766
Contract hire from £173.21 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Hyundai Kona (2017): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4165 mm
Width 2070 mm
Height 1550–1565 mm
Wheelbase 2600 mm

Full specifications

In true Hyundai fashion, standard equipment is generous. Entry-level models in S trim get DAB audio, Bluetooth, alloy wheels, electric door mirrors and cruise control. However, those wanting navigation will have to opt for Premium spec as this is the only version that gets the compatible eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Finding a good driving position is easy enough, with the firm and supportive cloth seats providing plenty of back and leg support. Driver's seat lumbar and height adjustment are standard, which means everyone from the smallest to largest of drivers should be able to find a comfortable driving position. 

Head and legroom is decent for those in the front, but the Kona feels a lot narrower than its 1.8 metre width suggests, with the driver frequently clipping elbows with the front passenger when reaching for a gear change. The front door pockets are also small and only just large enough for a standard small bottle of water. 

The rear seats are large enough to carry two adults, but there's a notable lack of leg room. Indeed, even after the driver and front passenger have to move their seats forward, the rear seats are cramped and uncomfortable. The hard front seat covers also have a tendency to press uncomfortably on the knees and leave a bruise or two as passengers attempt to climb in and out.  

Cabin storage is fine for the most part, with two cup holders in the centre console and a few well-placed pockets. However, due to the abundance of cheap and shiny plastics in the cabin, it's easy for loose items to slide and crash around. Indeed, we tried putting a smartphone in the centre pocket, only for it to bounce into the foot well as we negotiated a rough road. 

The boot is a decent size though, with 334 litres - or 361 litres in S trim. The opening is one metre wide with a low loading lip and this makes it easy to lift heavy things in and out. Most versions get 60/40 split rear seats and the Kona will carry up to 1143 litres with the rear bench flattened. 

Standard Equipment (from December 2017):

S comes with 16-inch allow wheels, a rear spoiler with integrated LED brake light, LED daytime running lights, automatic headlights, air conditioning, cloth seats, cruise control, electric and heated door mirrors, height and lumbar adjustable driver’s seat, Bluetooth connectivity, five-inch mono LCD display, DAB radio plus steering wheel controls for phone and audio. 

SE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, front fog lights, leather steering wheel and gear knob, driver's seat electric lumbar support adjustment, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment, parking sensors, rear-view camera, smartphone connectivity for Android Auto/Apple Carplay and a space saver spare wheel.

Premium includes 18-inch alloy wheels, climate control, auto dimming rear-view mirror, privacy glass for rear windows, auto defog function for windscreen, keyless entry, eight-inch touchscreen with navigation and wireless phone charging.

Premium SE adds electric driver's seat adjustment, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, leather seat trim, rear centre arm rest, front parking sensors, HUD display for driver, blind spot warning system and rear cross traffic alert. 

Premium GT is the range leading trim and adds full LED headlights, LED rear lights, high beam assist, LCD driver's instrument cluster and automatic city braking with pedestrian recognition. 

Child seats that fit a Hyundai Kona (2017)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Hyundai Kona (2017) like to drive?

Crossovers are not always the sharpest things in the handling department, but the Kona makes a good case for itself with responsive steering and lots of front-end grip. Some drivers might find the steering to be a little overly heavy, especially at low speeds, but the Kona is sharper to drive than many of its rivals on the open road. 

On the downside, the firmer set-up results in more bumps and lumps being transferred to the cabin. The issue isn't profound on the smaller wheel sizes, but Kona drivers on 18-inch wheels will note that the body bobbles about with an uncomfortable regularity on rough and potted surfaces. 

The Kona is offered with two turbocharged, small-displacement petrol engines. Most buyers will choose the excellent 120PS 1.0-litre T-GDI with a six-speed manual transmission, owing to the fact it's the most-efficient with claimed economy peaking at 54.3mpg. 

Admittedly, with just 120PS, the 1.0 petrol engine won't set any speed records - the 0-62mph sprint takes 12 seconds  - but it's sufficient enough for scooting around town with 172Nm of torque available from as little as 1500rpm. The 1.0-litre engine feel a little breathless when overtaking slow moving traffic, but a quick down change usually remedies this. 

Even with three-cylinder power, the Kona's is smooth and refined on the motorway, with low noise levels from both the engine and road. This means it's apt for long drives at 70mph, while the wide windscreen and large door mirrors provide excellent all-round visibility.

A higher power 1.6-litre T-GDI with 177PS - and 265Nm - is available with four-wheel drive and Hyundai’s self-developed seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. However, with claimed economy dropping to 42.2mpg (and considerably less in real life), this will be a niche choice unless you plan to utilise the Kona's 1250kg braked towing capacity. It's not a particularly refined engine/gearbox combination, either, and feels less powerful than its 177PS suggests.

Most models get parking sensors and a rearview camera as standard, which means it isn't too difficult to guide the 1.8 metre wide Hyundai into a parallel space or reverse it into garage. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.0 T-GDi 50–51 mpg 12.0 s 117–127 g/km
1.6 CRDi 115 67 mpg 10.7 s 111–112 g/km
1.6 CRDi 136 DCT 64 mpg 10.2 s 114 g/km
1.6 T-GDi DCT 40 mpg 7.9 s 142–153 g/km

Real MPG average for a Hyundai Kona (2017)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

83%

Real MPG

27–54 mpg

MPGs submitted

31

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Hyundai Kona (2017)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What's a good hybrid or electric small SUV?

I'm looking for an automatic SUV with a very high seating position. I am a learner driver and prefer something small. I'm also leaning more towards electric and hybrid?
A Hyundai Kona would be a good option if you want to go down the electric or hybrid route. It's available as an excellent electric car with a long range, although demand is currently exceeding supply. Hyundai's just announced a hybrid version of the same car which is due to go on sale in September: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/new-cars/2019-08/hyundai-kona-hybrid-565mpg-crossover-on-sale-next-month/. Also look at the Toyota C-HR hybrid.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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