The Hyundai Kona Hybrid (2023) is the automotive version of the ordinary, hard-working Dutchman that politicians often talk about during these election times. He does what he has to do without complaint, never comes to the fore and the price is a windfall.
It is not entirely clear who the ladies and gentlemen in The Hague mean when they talk about 'the ordinary, hard-working Dutchman'. Are you part of that too? And your neighbor, mother, father, direct colleagues? They probably mean the people who don't have a big mouth, who obediently go to work with four cheese sandwiches and a mandarin orange, and bring a bowl of soup to the neighbor who broke her hip. The new Hyundai Kona is such a good boy too. A silent force that never screams for attention.
Externally, the new Kona has made a huge growth spurt: it became 18.5 centimeters longer and falls right between the Bayon and the Tucson in the Hyundai hierarchy. It is striking that the electric Kona was developed first. The petrol and hybrid versions were created on this basis. The Kona is built on the K3 platform on which the Be Niro which already appeared on the market last year. There are differences: the Niro is available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric. There is also an electric Hyundai Kona, but a plug-in hybrid is missing. However, it is available as a 1.0 T-GDI mild hybrid (120 hp, with manual gearbox) and - like our test car - as a 'normal' hybrid (141 hp).
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Before we start driving, we sit in the back and from the back seat we immediately give our first compliment to Hyundai. The Kona is merciful to anyone who has to sit in the back. The headroom is well spaced and even two adults of 1.80 meters can sit behind each other easily.
You don't feel confined in the front either. The lever of the six-speed automatic transmission has been moved to the steering column, so that there is room between the front seats for a phone charger, two large cup holders and a spacious storage compartment. The instruments are digital and form one whole with the touchscreen on top of the dashboard. But below that we just see a rotary knob for the radio volume and physical buttons for air conditioning and seat heating. It has been a while since we drove a new car where the controls were so logical.
During the midweek that the Hyundai Kona Hybrid was in the newsroom, one button played a key role. That button has an asterisk and if you press it, you can turn off the ADAS systems that assist the driver while driving. EU legislation is now so strict that from July 2024, every new model must have a system that warns if you exceed the prevailing speed limit. Not with a modest light, but with clearly audible sound signals. In the Kona, a strict fatigue assistant also watches you, with its own beep sound. A third beep sounds when you approach a fixed speed camera, while beep number 4 warns you overzealously if you drive too close to fellow road users.
Fortunately, it is also easy to switch off the piercing beep concert. Peace returns, but temporarily, because with every new ride you have to switch everything off again. Hyundai cannot be blamed, because it is becoming mandatory. Get used to it if you have your eye on a new car.
Once on the road, the Kona is pleasantly unobtrusive. Nobody buys a Kona to win traffic light sprints. The tuning of the chassis is therefore comfortable: it neatly overcomes the many bumps in residential areas and on the highway you notice very little of the bumps in the road. Hyundai has a Sport driving program on offer, with the emphasis less on economy and more on 'dynamics'. But that is a relative concept. The Kona actually becomes a bit smoother and the steering is a little more communicative, but don't expect miracles. If the Kona makes maximum effort, the sprint to 100 km/h takes 10.9 seconds and the top speed is 165 km/h.
Precisely because of those modest values, our sympathy for the Kona increases with every kilometer. He doesn't pretend to be better than he is. Never for a moment are you waiting for faster sprints and more power on the busy Dutch roads with all their speed limits. A spacious, comfortable and economical car is much more useful to you during trips to the supermarket, to your (grand)children's sports club or on a weekend trip. And that is where the Kona excels. When driving away and at low speed, it runs solely on the electric motor. You will notice it when the petrol engine kicks in, but it is done in a civilized manner. The 43.5 hp electric motor and the four-cylinder petrol engine with 105 hp respond to each other like the choir and orchestra in Beethoven's famous Ninth.
The electric motor also has a second task, it helps with braking to return power to the battery. You determine how powerfully this happens with the paddle behind the wheel. Without driving like a cheapskate, you can achieve decent consumption figures. We achieve 4.8 l/100 km (1 in 20.8) and that is only 0.1 liter above the consumption stated by Hyundai.
The Kona Electric is now also on the market - the car that is the basis of the hybrid we drive. There are two versions, one with a 48.4 kWh battery (range 377 km) and one with a 65.4 kWh battery (514 km). Even the prices of the Kona and Kona Electric are reasonable. The 1.0 T-GDI (mild hybrid) costs at least 29,995 euros, for the 1.6 HEV (hybrid) you pay 4,000 euros more. If you want an electric Kona, you pay 43,995 euros, although the SEPP subsidy will still be deducted.
The Hyundai Kona is an honest car: it doesn't brag and never takes center stage. Don't expect fast sprints, no fancy dashboards with colors and atmospheric worlds, but a comfortable car with good fuel consumption and lots of space. The petrol Kona has remained very ordinary and that is what makes it special.
This post was last modified on November 14, 2023 6:05 am
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