Hyundai Kona Review 2022

Hyundai Kona At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Hyundai Kona is a distinctive-looking small SUV with a strong equipment list, long warranty and good infotainment on facelifted versions. You can get hybrid and fully electric versions, too, but in most other areas the Kona is no longer up with the best in the class.

+Can be had in petrol, hybrid and fully electric forms. Improved tech and quality with 2021 facelift. Five-year warranty.

-Cabin lacks space and is uninspiring. Doesn't ride that well. Latest petrol and hybrid models offer only adequate pace.

New prices start from £21,615, brokers can source from £18,876
Insurance Group 10
On average it achieves 80% of the official MPG figure

The Hyundai Kona is one of the older small SUV models on the scene now, having been around since 2017. It's been updated with a fairly extensive facelift in 2021, though, while the availability of hybrid, electric and high performance N versions means it offers plenty of choice. But is it any good these days? We'll find out in this review. 

There's such a large number of small SUVs these days that we wouldn't blame you for forgetting about the Hyundai Kona. Particularly with newer, fresher rivals such as the Ford Puma, the Vauxhall Mokka and the Toyota Yaris Cross hogging the limelight. 

Indeed, it appears that even Hyundai itself managed to forget about the Kona, since releasing the similarly sized and priced Bayon. While we're maybe being a little flippant (the Bayon is around £1100 cheaper and is intended to be a more low-slung mini MPV-style crossover) both cater to a rather similar buyer. 

What the Kona does offer over and above its new sibling, however, is the option of a full hybrid version, a fully electric version and even the Kona N, a proper hot small SUV with 280PS and Nurburgring-tuned handling. 

It's also quite distinctive to look at, particular when compared to cars such as the Volkswagen T-Roc and Skoda Kamiq. The look is different depending on the version you go for, with everything from a two-tone effect on lower trims to the sporty-looking N-Line and the rugged off-road cladding of higher trims. 

The 2021 Hyundai Kona facelift was a lot more than some lightly altered headlights, with a totally new front-end giving an even quirkier shape. As it's subjective, we'll let you decide if the revisions are successful or not. 

The inside, too, received a boost over the pre-facelift version, which is welcome as the old cabin was something of a mixed bag. Logically laid-out and easy to get on with it might've been, but the abundance of dark, scratchy plastics gave the Kona a rather low-rent feel. From 2021 things got better, particularly on the technology front, but it's still nowhere near as characterful as the outside. Still, equipment levels are very good for a car of this price. 

The Kona's practicality hasn't been improved by the facelift, though. Legroom is poor for those sitting in the back -  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.

Earlier Hyundai Konas came with the choice of a 120PS 1.0-litre T-GDI three-cylinder turbo petrol engine and a 1.6-litre four-cylinder T-GDI with 177PS. There was also a 1.6-litre diesel on offer for a couple of years, too. But as of 2021 the standard Kona range focused around the willing (but not remotely fast) 1.0-litre mated to a mild-hybrid system. 

Hyundai also introduced a self-charging hybrid version mating a 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine with an electric motor. It's a bit perkier (though still not exactly punchy), but the key thing is its ability to do over 57mpg combined. Interestingly, the real pace comes with the Hyundai Kona Electric (reviewed separately), which offers warm hatch pace in its highest output. 

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. 

As an affordable yet stylish small SUV, 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 middle-of-the-pack compared to rivals.  

We lived with a Kona for six months - find out how we got on with it in our long-term test review of the Hyundai Kona. Looking for a second opinion? Why not read heycar's Hyundai Kona review.

Ask Honest John

What do you recommend to replace a Volkswagen Golf?
"My in-laws, who are in their 70s and live in rural Scotland, recently had a car crash in which their 2014 Volkswagen Golf was written off. They are now looking for a smaller car than the Golf but one that suits my six foot six father-in-law. The car also needs to be economical and ideally an automatic. So far I've narrowed it down to: Toyota Yaris Cross, Hyundai Kona and the Nissan Micra. "
All of the above are solid choices, although the Hyundai Kona feels very similar in size to a Golf so that's worth bearing in mind. I've not driven the Yaris Cross, but the standard Yaris is an excellent car and I'd expect the Cross to feel very similar. The Yaris I drove got brilliant fuel economy even on long motorway runs up to Scotland, which you'd expect wouldn't favour its hybrid engine. Toyotas use proven parts that are very reliable and they're dealers consistently score highly for customer care. If you do pop down to a Toyota dealer, it might be worth waiting a couple of months for the new Aygo X. It replaces the current Aygo and has mini-SUV looks that should translate into excellent front seat headroom. It's based on the Yaris, but will feel significantly smaller than your in-laws' Golf. The only things that might be an issue is its 72PS engine which feels pretty weedy, although it does suit the optional automatic gearbox. I'm not sure how the Micra would feel for your father in-law, best for him to try it out in person, but from memory it wasn't overly spacious in the front seat. I'd describe it as a grown up small car, though, it's very comfortable and quiet. Another car I would suggest having a look at is the Volkswagen Polo. It's surprisingly big inside, is very easy to drive and is cheap to run. It's available with a 90PS turbocharged engine, which has a handy slug of extra power for driving out of town, but returns 55mpg all day long. I'm always surprised how comfortable it is for a relatively small car. The only problem may be the DSG automatic gearbox that can be jerky during low-speed manoeuvring, it's a little disconcerting if you're not used to it. Hope that helps, we have full reviews of all the car's mentioned, below: Yaris Cross: Aygo X: Kona: Micra: Polo:
Answered by Russell Campbell
What are the alternatives to the Hyundai Kona?
"My wife is looking to change her petrol Hyundai Kona. She likes the car size and high driving position but she feels the boot is too small. Can you suggest an alternative with similar attributes to the Kona but with a bigger boot please?"
The Ford Puma would be my recommendation. It's a brilliant compact SUV that's well-equipped as standard and good to drive. It also has a huge 456-litre boot - which is 122 litres more than the Kona: If the Puma doesn't suit your needs, I'd suggest the Peugeot 2008 or Volkswagen T-Roc - the latter was rated as one of the UK's best cars in our latest Satisfaction Index:
Answered by Dan Powell
Was I missold a car because it's not getting the mpg I was told?
"What do the WLTP phases mean in real terms? Is the extra high phase just motorway driving? Basically, I bought a new Hyundai Kona 1.6 hybrid as I wanted an economical car. I was told I'd get over 50mpg on the motorway. I drive 120 miles a day for work, and 105 of that is motorway driving so as an overall average i would expect 50+mpg, however, I'm getting 46mpg at best. I'm trying to get Hyundai to take the car back as it was missold, but I cannot do that without knowing if the extra high phase mpg figure is for the motorway."
Car manufacturers publish figures based on official WLTP fuel economy tests, but real life driving usually offers lower (sometimes significantly lower) fuel economy figures. For high mileage motorway drivers, like yourself, diesels are usually a better buy. Hybrid vehicles offer good fuel economy for mixed driving as they regenerate battery power at low speeds, like around town. You can check our Real MPG stats here for most models: Our understanding is that Extra High Phase means motorway-like driving at a max of 81mph. However, saying that, I'm not sure you'll have much luck with Hyundai as having missold you the vehicle - especially if you don't have a record (like an email) of an employee telling you explicitly that the car you bought would get 50mpg on the motorway. Although, it's worth a try. What you could also try is using more premium fuel - like Shell or BP rather than supermarket fuel. We get reports from some readers that this improves fuel economy.
Answered by Georgia Petrie
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: Also look at the Toyota C-HR hybrid.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Hyundai Kona cost?

Buy new from £18,876(list price from £21,620)