The Kona is Hyundai’s golden goose in the ultra-popular urban SUV category, and the Korean automaker has been pampering it. After the excellent all-electric model released last year,
it now comes in a hybrid version that uses the Ioniq engine. We drove it for the first time near Avignon.
While most automakers have so far focused on alternative powertrains, the Hyundai brand now has gasoline and diesel engines, light hybrids, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric and fuel cell electric vehicles in its lineup. And if we are used to saying that it is not good to hunt several hares at the same time,
we have to admit that the Korean brand is doing particularly well. The Ioniq EV is one of the most efficient electric cars in the world, and its hybrid version had little to envy Toyota’s production when it came out in 2016. And this expansion is expected to continue in the years to come, as Hyundai presented its Concept 45 at the last Frankfurt Motor Show, its new E-GMP platform, which allows flexible battery sizes for all segments, a high-voltage system and the ability to recharge up to 400 kW.
Pending its production start-up, the brand continues to develop its existing models, and the Kona, its best-selling French model with 15,893 units sold since its launch in 2017, is now offered with a hybrid engine, in addition to gasoline, diesel and electric. And unlike the latter with its specific front end, this version of the small SUV doesn’t really stand out aesthetically,
with the exception of the logos obviously and the (very nice) wheels reserved for it. It’s not necessarily a pity as it’s so full of personality, and that’s undoubtedly one of the reasons for its success. Same thing inside, identical in all points, from the appearance (except for the instrumentation) to the space on board and the trunk volume, which is rather good news since it has a good livability/size ratio.
To enhance the engine bay and under the rear seat, Hyundai has simply adopted the proven recipe of the Ioniq released in 2016: a 105 hp 1.6 1 GDI Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine backed by a 43.5 hp electric motor, offering a combined output of 141 hp and 265 Nm, as well as a 1.56 kWh lithium ion polymer battery with a capacity of 42 kW and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Official combined fuel consumption ranges from 3.9 to 4.3 l/100 km depending on the trim level, with 90 g/km of CO2 announced, 22 less than the 1.6 CRDi 136 DCT-7, the version that, on paper, seems closest. However, the picture is a little less flattering when it comes to performance, with a 0-100 km/h time of 11.6 seconds versus 10.2 seconds for the diesel version.
From the very first turns of the wheels, the Ioniq’s ease of driving is evident. While Toyota’s epicyclic drivetrain is technically the best in terms of efficiency, it requires some time to get used to it and you have to adapt your driving style to get the most out of it, which isn’t the case here with the dual-clutch transmission,
which novices won’t be out of place in front of. Certainly, it is not a lightning of war, the torque of the electric allowing him to tear off vigorously on the first meters but quickly exhausted afterwards, however the Kona Hybrid shows itself to be flexible and silent, which invites a quiet and flowing driving.
This serene atmosphere is only disturbed by a few vibrations on certain road imperfections faithfully transmitted into the cabin by the large 18-inch wheels and a fairly thin rear seat cushion that loses much of its softness.
With a minimum of eco-driving on the outskirts of Avignon, where we conducted our test, we obtained an average fuel consumption of 4.6 L/100 km, which seems extremely reasonable for a 1,500-kg SUV. It’s too bad that, unlike the Ioniq since its recent restyling, the Kona Hybrid doesn’t benefit from steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that allow you to adjust regeneration on several levels in eco mode, which would no doubt have allowed you to scrape off a few more deciliters.
The Hyundai Kona Hybrid is priced from €27,150 in Intuitive finish, already very complete with standard rear parking assist, automatic headlight activation, active lane keeping assistance, rear view camera, rain sensor, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, LED daytime running lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control/ speed limiter, electrically folding mirrors and multimedia system with 7-inch touch screen.
However, this hybrid version has a particular positioning in the Kona range that makes comparisons difficult due to a limited number of finishes: it only crosses paths with the 1.6 CRDi 136 DCT-7 version at the top end of the Executive range, at which level it requires an additional €2,700, bringing it to €32,550 against €29,850.
In terms of competition, pending the arrival next year of the Renault Captur E-Tech, which will be a Plug-in Hybrid, the Hyundai Kona Hybrid is the only dual gasoline/electric engine proposal in the urban SUV segment, with the Toyota C-HR boxing in the upper category. And what if its closest rival was in fact not to be found in another brand but under its own roof?
And why not the Ioniq Hybrid instead?
SUVs are the fittest category of the moment, accounting for 38% of new vehicle sales in Europe today and continuing to grow. But let’s be honest, it’s all about fashion, as few people absolutely need the extra ground and roof clearance that the segment brings.
However, these last two figures do have significant repercussions in other areas, which can be demonstrated by comparing this Kona Hybrid with the restyled version of the Ioniq with exactly the same engine. Indeed, the Ioniq may be a compact sedan measuring 4.47 m in length, almost 30 cm longer than the Kona,
with the space on board that goes with it (10 cm wheelbase and 95 liters of additional trunk space) and despite extremely similar masses, the sCx (coefficient of drag multiplied by the frontal area) of the urban SUV, increased by its 31 mm more ground clearance and 115 mm higher overall height, has enormous repercussions not only on emissions and fuel consumption, but also on performance.
For example, the Kona needs an additional 8 tenths of a second to reach 100 km/h from a standstill, officially consumes half a liter of fuel per 100 km more, and adds 11 g/km of CO2. In addition, it is not entitled to the paddle regeneration control function that the Ioniq has enjoyed since its restyling. In the end, it only makes a small difference to the purchase price, since it is only €600 less than the Ioniq with identical finishes.