Hyundai Kona review

Find out more about the Hyundai Kona in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • - Striking looks
  • - Composed chassis
  • - Well priced


  • - Firm ride
  • - Road noise
  • - Hard interior plastics
Model Review

The Kona isn’t Hyundai’s first crossover, they’ve been there before with the iX35, launched in 2011. But it is the company’s most daring model yet - something that’s hardly surprising when you consider its heritage.

The model’s chief stylist was Belgian-Peruvian designer Luc Donckerwolke, who joined Hyundai in 2015 having previously worked for Volkswagen Group on the Bentley, Audi and Lamborghini brands, his most famous designs being the Lamborghini Gallardo and Murcielago.

That’s an impressive pedigree for a Korean crossover and one that’s certainly not lost on the Kona, which stands out among an increasingly identikit line-up of rivals.

The Kona name is taken from a group of Islands in the Western Pacific, but the car has a different name in Portugal and most South American markets, where the identically sounding ‘cona’ is a very rude word indeed.

The car was first shown in mid-2017, before going on sale in November of that year.

Latest model

The Kona is relatively new so there haven’t been any significant facelifts or model year changes.

Otherwise, the model range is fairly straightforward, consisting of three power trains—a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol with 118bhp and a 1.6-litre CRDi diesel with 115bhp available across the range and a 175bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol model in the range-topping Premium GT model, which also gets four-wheel-drive.

There are five trim levels available—S, SE, Premium, Premium SE and the Premium GT, all with comprehensive levels of equipment.

Stand-out features include a funky eight-inch touchscreen and an optional two-tone roof, along with Hyundai’s new ‘Driver Attention Alert’ system, which uses driving pattern analysis to advise the driver when they really need to stop and take a break.

Value for money

You can be on the road in a new Kona for less than £17,000, which is very good value for a vehicle of this size, though the S model doesn’t have quite the roadside presence of some of the more upmarket Konas.

It still represents terrific value further up the range, though, there are four different options available below £20,000 including a diesel, and even the range-topping Premium GT is a realistic £25,445 which is highly competitive compared to rivals.

Even the entry-level S is a well-equipped car, with cruise control, automatic headlights and air conditioning, along with electric windows all-round, while further up the range the kit just gets better.

Like all cars in the Hyundai range, the Kona comes with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, with roadside assistance included.

Looks and image

It’s with its styling where the Kona really scores, with a distinctive sculpted body and black plastic cladding, which not only gives it a rugged appearance but also protects the bodywork from knocks and scrapes in urban environments.

The body protection extends to the lower edge of the front bumper and both side sills, while the front end styling is exceptionally clever, with narrow LED daytime running lights in the traditional headlamp position and the dipped beam lamps themselves being mounted in pods towards the bottom of the front grille area.

Hyundai has also developed a range of colours specifically for the Kona, which are very close to some of the colours its designer developed while he worked for Lamborghini—Acid Yellow, Blue Lagoon and Tangerine are all extremely bright hues that really bring out the Kona’s outgoing personality in a sea of ordinary white, grey and silver crossovers.

All of these elements combine to give the Kona a strong image so it’s not necessarily a car for shrinking violets, but for young families with a vibrant outlook on life, or for those who find themselves in need of a family car but who aren’t quite ready for a ‘boring’ one, the Kona has much to recommend it. It’s a lot more fun and a lot more outgoing than many of its rivals.

Space and practicality

With style playing a big part in the Kona’s conceptualisation, practicality could very easily have taken a back seat. But while the Korean car isn’t as spacious and doesn’t have quite as much luggage room as some of its European rivals, it’s still a very practical car that will have enough space for most families.

Seat comfort is decent front and rear, the high seating position helping to provide decent legroom thanks to a fairly upright seating position.

The boot isn’t as big as some of the boxier crossovers on the market, but that’s the price you pay for having a car with far more style. Even so, 335 litres of luggage space aren’t to be sniffed at as it matches most of the large hatchbacks on the market, and with the seats folded this can be increased to 1,155 litres.

A large glass area also adds to the feel of spaciousness, giving the cabin a light and airy atmosphere.


The 1.0-litre turbo petrol is the best-selling version of the Kona, and it acquits itself perfectly well. It won’t set the world on fire with its 118bhp, it’s capable of holding its own among traffic and accelerates from 0-60mph in 11.8 seconds, with a top speed of 113mph. CO2 emissions of 125g/km are pretty decent, as is the combined figure of 52.3 mpg (NEDC).

Diesel models are slightly quicker, despite a 3bhp power deficit, with 0-60moph dispatched in 10.7 seconds and a top speed of 114mph, along with 112g/km of CO2 and 67.3mpg combined.

The 1.6 turbo is much more performance oriented with 175bhp. Even so, 40.4mpg combined isn’t a disaster by any stretch, and 158g/km doesn’t put it into a crippling tax bracket.

0-60 takes less than eight seconds and the top speed of the GT Premium model - the only one available with this power unit - is 127mph.

Of the three, the 1.6T is, unsurprisingly, the best to drive, though all three engines are smooth and quite refined, though the 1.0 can get a bit breathless under mid-range acceleration.

Things to look for

It’s far too early to tell if there are any problems inherent with the Kona, but Hyundai generally has a good reputation for reliability, while the five-year 100,000-mile warranty should give you peace of mind.


The Kona is entering a very competitive and crowded marketplace, but its determination to be different really helps it to stand out and compared to others in the class such as the Kia Niro, Vauxhall Mokka, and Skoda Karoq, it really stands out.

In terms of character, the MINI Countryman and Fiat 500X are probably the closest, but while their personality is based on heritage and the appeal of a smaller feeder model, the Kona’s appeal is very much standalone. It’s a brave effort and it deserves to succeed.


Predicting the depreciation of such an unusual car is difficult, not least because the Kona isn’t likely to follow the curve of any previous Hyundai model thanks to its rather unique positioning.

However, initial signs are promising, with most residual value experts predicting it will retain more than 40 per cent of its value after three years.


  1. 1. Something very different for the crossover market
  2. 2. 1.0 turbo can struggle under heavy load
  3. 3. Premium colours and two-tone roof only available on high spec cars
  4. 4. Eight-inch touch screen and smartphone mirroring from SE upwards
  5. 5. Style does come at the expense of practicality, but check boot space is big enough
  6. 6. Driver Attention Alert analyses driving patters to spot when a driver may be sleepy
  7. 7. First mainstream Hyundai to get a head-up display
  8. 8. Six-speed manual or seven-speed auto transmission on offer
  9. 9. All models get a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty as standard
  10. 10. Cabin noise is more intrusive than in some rivals, especially on larger wheels

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