Can the Kona Hybrid can it find its place in this highly competitive car buyer’s segment in Singapore?
We’ve come to a point where every manufacturer needs to have a hybrid or two, or even better a full electric vehicle, in its sales catalog to maintain the aura of progressive intent. Hyundai are doing well in this for a mainstream brand here, with a range of two electric cars and two hybrids on offer.
One of the hybrids is the Kona, an SUV-like crossover that looks rugged enough, but is designed and an urban runabout. The design suits the hybrid powertrain well, and it features a 1.6-litre petrol engine working in tandem with a 32kW electric motor, powering the front wheels through a six-speed twin-clutch transmission.
It sits in a very competitive market segment, though local Hyundai dealer Komoco Motors looks to sweeten the car’s appeal by packing it with plenty of active safety features that will appeal to families.
It’s fitted with Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety system, which is a suite of active safety and driver assistance systems that should add some peace of mind for drivers.
The higher specification version driven here also gets a sunroof and a very useful heads-up display for the driver, along with wireless phone charging and ventilated front seats to keep you really cool on hot days. The high spec car, which costs an extra $9,000 over the standard car, also gets 18-inch wheels over the standard 16-inch rollers, and a 4.2-inch LCD instrument cluster over the standard version’s 3.5-inch unit.
Don’t want a crossover? Hyundai also has the Ioniq Hybrid…
There’s a chunky look to the car’s styling that is quite attractive, and in use the Kona is an easy drive with good all-round visibility. The twin-clutch transmission is so smooth that regular drivers would barely notice it in operation, though there are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters available should you want to engage in a bit of sportier driving.
The interior is cleanly and sensibly laid out, with controls and functions readily available at your fingertips. The main options are accessed by buttons laid out around the dashboard, so there is minimal hunting around the touchscreen interface.
Cabin space is good for a car of this size, and the large boot is useful large, with additional compartments under the removable floor for placing smaller items.
Where the Kona Hybrid really excels is mostly hidden away beneath the surface. The range of included safety features include active blindspot sensors, smart cruise control, forward collision avoidance assist, and the lane keeping assist system. A feature that was found only in luxury cars not too long ago, the lane keeping assist works with the lane following assist. It’s a mild form of active steering, and as long as the car’s front cameras can detect the road’s lane marking it will nudge the steering wheel slightly in the correct direction to follow the lane.
The driver retains full control though, and any turning force on the wheel will override the steering motor.
On the whole it’s a car with a good turn of speed to keep up with traffic. The 0 to 100km/h sprint time may seem slow on paper, but in practice, the torque of the electric motor gives the car some good midrange pulling power at both urban and highway speeds.
It’s quiet and has a well-damped ride quality, and though the Kona isn’t really designed for sporty spirited driving, it does engage the driver enough to maintain interest along winding roads. We returned an average fuel economy of under 5.9l/100km over three days of mixed highway and city driving, along with some heavy-footed ‘power testing’, which is well within the standards of a hybrid of this size and power.
As pointed out earlier, the Hyundai Kona Hybrid sits in a very competitive segment in Singapore. Everybody seems to be buying a crossover these days, and while the Honda HR-V is still holding its own after plenty of updates, there are others like Toyota’s CH-R and the Kia Niro hybrid, fighting for attention.
Kia’s Niro Hybrid is just $117,999 with COE for the high spec variant, and has very similar technical specifications to the Kona Hybrid. The newly released Kia Seltos makes an even stronger case for itself, as even though it’s a straight petrol powered car, you get a lot of kit and a bigger car for just $120,999 with COE.
But the Hyundai Kona Hybrid has its own appeal. It’s very competent and sensibly designed with a good standard equipment package and plenty of safety features that the driver can actually see and feel in action.
Hyundai Kona Hybrid 1.6 DCT
|Engine||1,580cc, inline 4 with permanent magnet synchronous electric motor|
|Power||130hp at 5700rpm (combined)|
|Torque||265Nm at 1500rpm (combined)|
|Gearbox||6-speed twin-clutch automatic|
|VES Band / CO2||A2 / 99g/km|
|Price||$124,999 with COE|
|Verdict||A cool, efficient car that is packed with tech and active safety features|