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Expert Review

Hyundai KONA SUV (2023 - ) review

The electric Kona has always been easy to recommend but never that exciting. The 2024 model improves everything – and adds some flair

Mark Nichol

Words by: Mark Nichol

Published on 3 April 2024 | 0 min read

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

4

Available new from £34,995

For six years from 2017, the Hyundai Kona built its success on a foundation of no-frills, well-priced, highly sensible family motoring. It wasn’t very exciting (outrageous N version aside, that is) but it was very easy to recommend. This latest model has all the same fundamental characteristics – it’s a well-sized, good value and very pleasant family EV – but now it’s also the sort of car you might look at and think "yep, that's an interesting thing... tell me more." It has better battery range than before, improved comfort and quality, and is very nearly as big inside as a Hyundai Ioniq 5 – despite being almost £9,000 cheaper. And speaking of the Ioniq 5, that car has clearly influenced this Kona’s design, which is a now lot neater and features a ‘pixellated seamless horizon lamp’ at the front. Stupid name, but it’s truly distinctive and helps give the Kona a futuristic visual appeal and sense of coolness that the outgoing car just didn’t have. A big leap forward, then, and even easier to justify than before. It’s very comfy, techy without being confusing, and has battery options that will give most family buyers more than enough range.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickVery spacious family EV
  • tickClean, stylish appearance outside and in
  • tickRefinement is excellent

At a glance:

Running costs for a Hyundai KONA

The £35,000 starting price of the electric version chafes a bit, when a petrol Kona can be yours from £26,000 with the same specification
As before, the Kona is available with various power options – petrol, petrol-electric hybrid, and fully electric. In that context, the £35,000 starting price of the electric version chafes a bit, when a petrol Kona can be yours from £26,000 with the same specification. You will, of course, benefit from cheaper running costs in the electric version. And if you’re financing your Kona with a lease or a PCP, you might find there’s not much disparity in the monthly payments of a petrol or electric version. (At the time of writing this, April 2024, there’s about a fiver difference between leasing an electric Kona or a 1.0-litre petrol model in the same spec with Auto Trader Leasing.) There are two battery options for the Kona Electric: a Standard Range model with a 48kWh battery and a 234-mile range rating, and a 65kWh Long Range model, with a 319-mile rating. The model with the smaller battery has 156 horsepower, and the bigger version 218 horsepower. You’ll pay about £3,500 more for the bigger battery and quicker motor in a basic spec car, called Advance, but they both take charge at the same rate: 100kW maximum, compared to 75kW in the last Kona.
Expert rating: 4/5

Reliability of a Hyundai KONA

Hyundai’s recent reliability record is excellent, with the company regularly featuring near the top of customer satisfaction charts.
Reliability on such a new car is difficult to predict, but the signs are very good. Hyundai offers one of the best manufacturer warranties on the market, at five years with unlimited mileage, and the Kona’s battery is warrantied for eight years and 100,000 miles. Hyundai’s recent reliability record is excellent too, with the company regularly featuring near the top of customer satisfaction charts. Hyundai is very well-versed in making electric cars, having started developing them way back in the early ‘90s. The Kona shares many of its parts with the Kia Niro – a car also proving reliable among owners.
Expert rating: 4/5

Safety for a Hyundai KONA

Like all Hyundais, it has some of the most neatly integrated safety systems on the market
With a four-star Euro NCAP rating (out of five), this Kona dropped a star compared to the outgoing car. Disappointing, but it says as much about the test itself as it does about the car; the 2023 Euro NCAP test is much more stringent than it was in 2017. Still, plenty of cars in this segment do have a five-star rating, and the Kona lost marks for lack of front knee airbags and chest airbags in the rear. Safety kit is decent as standard, though. It will brake automatically if it thinks you’re going to hit something. And, like all Hyundais, it has some of the most neatly integrated safety systems on the market. The car can automatically adapt the strength of regenerative braking based on the road ahead, slowing down the car if there’s traffic in front of you. And the blind spot monitors show up on the instrument panel screen when you indicate – a proper useful bit of active safety.
Expert rating: 4/5

How comfortable is the Hyundai KONA

The influence of the Ioniq 5 can be felt in the way this goes over the road. It’s soft, comfy, and slightly wallowy, and the steering is finger-light.
The Kona electric always feels like a high-quality, calming driving experience. The ride comfort and the noise suppression are a whole league above the last Kona’s. The influence of the Ioniq 5 can be felt in the way this goes over the road. It’s soft, comfy, and slightly wallowy, and the steering is finger-light. That all means it’s at its best when being driven gently, and it’s probably the most refined of all these small-ish electric SUVs – the Fiat 600e, Peugeot e-2008 and Jeep Avenger, to name a few. The refinement extends to the other parts of the car. Pedal feel can be quite hit and miss in electric cars. The accelerator can be twitchy, like it's too responsive, and the brakes can be either grabby or spongy because they’re blending a regenerative braking system with standard discs. In the Kona, though, they're really easy to modulate. The whole car just feels… together. The seats are comfy, the driving position is high and the front pillars are thin, so visibility is great. The cabin is very spacious – best rear shoulder room in class, we’re told – partly because it’s bigger in every direction than the last Kona was, but also because it has a longer wheelbase and thinner front seatbacks. The rear bench even reclines, should your passengers want to lounge a little at the expense of boot space.
Expert rating: 5/5

Features of the Hyundai KONA

All of them get a massive 12.3-inch twin-screen display with regular over-the-air software updates, plus navigation, proper smartphone connectivity, and climate control
Four trim levels – Advance, N-Line, N-Line S and Ultimate – but all of them get a massive 12.3-inch twin screen display with regular over-the-air software updates, plus navigation, proper smartphone connectivity, climate control, and four USB-C ports. N Line spec is the sporty one and does make the Kona look a bit better inside and out: bigger and flashier wheels, body kit, the usual stuff. A top-spec Advance car has heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, head-up display… it feels proper fancy, basically. The fundamentals are spot-on too, though. Hyundai has made the Kona’s cabin more user-friendly than its Ioniq cars by adding a load of physical buttons that they don’t have. Air con, radio, temperature – they’re all easily accessible on the move. And the interior storage is great. Hyundai has shifted the drive selector onto the steering column, for instance, leaving room for a configurable storage space between the seats – you can remove parts of it if you need to wedge something chunky in there. Your laptop for instance – a laptop you can plug in using the interior three-pin socket. There’s a wireless phone charger, two sizeable & retractable cupholders, big door pockets, and even a shelf above the glovebox. The boot is a massive improvement over the last Kona’s luggage space, which was 332 litres. This one is 466. That means it’s gone from less than a Volkswagen Polo’s to more than a Ford Kuga’s. It’s a nice hole too, including a low loading lip and a 40-20-40 split-folding rear bench as standard. There’s also a frunk at the front for your cables… or anything else less than 27 litres large.
Expert rating: 4/5

Power for a Hyundai KONA

Neither of them feel especially quick, particularly beyond 50mph, but like most EVs, they’re sprightly at town speed
The WLTP quoted average ranges for the Standard Range (234 miles) and Long Range (319 miles) versions are both decent figures, and we found that the 64kWh version was giving us a solid 250 miles from a full battery. Both come with a heat pump as standard, which pre-warms the battery for better efficiency. The 48kWh version has a 156-horsepower electric motor, and the 64kWh a 218-horswpower one. The performance gap between both isn’t as wide as you’d think though, with only a second difference in the 0-62mph time: 7.8 or 8.8 seconds. Neither of them feel especially quick, particularly beyond 50mph, but like most EVs, they’re sprightly at town speed. Charging speed isn’t quite up to the rapidity of the Ioniq 5's, but with a 100kW maximum DC speed, you’ll be able to get it charged to 80 percent from almost flat in about half an hour.
Expert rating: 4/5