Read Caroline’s Hyundai Kona review for everything you need to know about buying Hyundai’s compact crossover in Ireland.

The second generation Hyundai Kona has just gone on sale in Ireland, priced from about €30,895.

At launch, buyers can choose between a simple 1.0-litre petrol engine or a hybrid.

A new all-electric Kona is expected to go on sale before the end of the year with a range in the region of 500 kilometres.

The Hyundai Kona on test for Changing Lanes
The Hyundai Kona on test for Changing Lanes

What’s so special about the Hyundai Kona?

The Kona is a small SUV-style vehicle that slots into the Hyundai range between the Bayon and the Tucson. It has been a big success for Hyundai Ireland since it launched here in 2017. Kona is a consistent bestseller, only outsold in the Hyundai range by the mighty Tucson.

Now Kona has grown up. The second generation Kona is a significantly bigger car than before – it’s longer, wider and taller – which makes it a lot more spacious and practical than the previous version. It should perform now better as a small family car.

The styling is quite a radical evolution, taking inspiration from the brand’s latest models with dramatic lighting and even more pronounced squared-off wheel arches finished in thick cladding for a classic crossover look. It certainly commands attention on the road and there’s a premium touch to how K-O-N-A is spelt out across the boot lid.

There are three trim levels available for the petrol Kona – Signature, Elegance and a sporty N Line. There’s just two for Kona Hybrid – Signature from about €34,000 and Elegance from about €36,000.

Wheel sizes vary from 16- to 18-inch, depending on trim level.

The cabin of the new Kona
The cabin of the new Kona

Inside the Kona

The new cabin also shows Kona’s maturity and growing stature within the Hyundai range. The cabin feels more upmarket than before with a focus on improving the cabin quality, design and technology. The finish is excellent with a leather wrapped steering wheel as standard and plenty of soft touch materials, including nice fabric panels in the doors.

There has also been an upgrade in the digital tech. Kona gets a new touchscreen with intuitive design, modern graphics and over-the-air updates. It’s easy to sync with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A full digital driver display comes as standard on all but the entry model.

The shift-by-wire gear selector has been moved to a stalk behind the steering wheel, creating more space in the centre console.

All Konas come very well equipped. Standard features include automatic climate control, cruise control, high beam assist and a parking camera.

Elegance models add features like heated front seats, heated steering wheel, driver lumbar support and wireless smartphone charging.

The new Kona is more spacious and practical than before
The new Kona is more spacious and practical than before

Is it practical?

Yes, the cabin is much more spacious than before. There’s a longer wheelbase so legroom has improved a lot. It’s also a bit wider so even seating three across the rear bench from time to time should not be a problem. There’s a centre armrest, USB ports and separate vents for rear seat passengers.

Hyundai has also improved the boot space on offer. The volume has increased from about 361 litres to 466 litres in the new version. That makes the Kona now one of the best of the segment for boot space. There’s also a false floor that can be used to create a flat loading sill.

Driving the Kona Hybrid

The entry into the range is a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine with 120hp and a 6-speed manual gearbox.

Then there’s the Kona Hybrid, which is a 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid with a dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s a standard hybrid so does not need to be plugged in to get the best efficiency from it. With 141hp, it offers more power than the petrol Kona and the smoothness and ease of use of an automatic, which is very useful in traffic or town driving.

The refinement of the hybrid is excellent, aided by the dual clutch transmission that keeps everything very smooth and quiet. The driver is barely aware of any transitions between the EV and hybrid drive.

There are a few driving modes like Eco for the best efficiency, Sport for livelier acceleration and Snow mode for extra traction in low grip conditions.

Rear seating in the new Kona
Rear seating in the new Kona

The Kona Hybrid returns excellent economy, with my fuel consumption averaging at about 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres during my time with the car.

The Kona is smooth and easy to drive, with the compact dimensions and light steering making it feel very agile. It handles the road well, feeling secure and planted. It’s comfortable by class standards with just more audible road and wind noise at high speeds on the motorway.

Did you like it?

Hyundai has made a very popular model more practical and upmarket than before. This car has seriously grown up and will now function very well as a small family car.

Elsewhere, the new styling is futuristic but might be a little divisive. Yet it’s a car that really makes a statement.

The hybrid is a smooth and agile drive that consistently delivers good fuel economy – without trying too hard. For that, it remains a very good choice in the market and offers customers real options when it comes to finding the best power option – whether that be petrol, hybrid or the forthcoming electric model. It is a brilliant all-rounder that still manages to offer good value in the market.

Model tested: Hyundai Kona Hybrid Elegance
1.6-litre petrol-electric hybrid
Power: 141hp
Torque: 265Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 11.2 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Hyundai Kona range will soon be joined by a new electric version
The Hyundai Kona range will soon be joined by a new electric version