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Ha-Kona Matata: 2022 Hyundai Kona Hybrid Elite Review

The Hyundai Kona has made considerable in-roads into a very competitive market. The introduction of an EV variant has only helped sales, but its hefty price tag has put it out of reach for many. What the Kona needed was a mid-way point for those not able to go fully electric just yet.

Hyundai responded by giving us the Kona Hybrid which is now available as the Kona Hybrid Series II. I’m sure you have probably just guessed the hybrid part of that nameplate is what gives it that middle ground between fully petrol and fully electric. With high hopes, I spent a week in its company to find out just what this middle child is like.

The Kona Hybrid Series II’s fully parallel hybrid system consists of a 1.6L four-cylinder petrol engine working in unison with a 32kW/170Nm electric motor and a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. Hyundai claim total power is rated at 104kW and 265Nm of torque.

Coupled to a six-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox sending aforementioned power to the front wheels, Hyundai claim the Kona Hybrid is a good for a combined 4.4L/100km and 101g/km of combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, all while tipping the scales at a snip under 1400kg, or 1376kg to be exact.

While these numbers look good for the economy minded motorist, what about the most important set of numbers of all? The price. Well, the base Kona Hybrid will set you back $49,990 plus ORC and the Elite Hybrid featured here retails at $54,990 plus ORC. This not only brings things just that little bit more down to earth, but being a hybrid, you can also throw in a clean car rebate of $3418.

I must admit I didn’t think the first Kona was much to look at, however with the facelifted Series II, its chops are certainly more aesthetically pleasing. Its LED daytime running lights look clean cut and its main headlights situated on either side of that much wider grill look pretty good too.

It might be case of stylistic déjà vu at the rear when comparing the Series I to the Series II, but the Elite Hybrid’s 18-inch alloy design more than makes up for it. All in all, if you want an urban SUV with a bit of a visual edge, this one works.

In terms of the cabin, the fully leather heated seats are certainly plush and give you a good level of support. However, I find that some of the interior materials used on the dash and doors feel just a tad second rate. That said, the switchgear is well laid out and the 8” touchscreen infotainment system is, while not being the most cutting edge system out there, is certainly very intuitive.

More brownie points are added when you factor in the level of kit you get for your $55k. The Kona Hybrid Elite’s heated leather chair is electric for the driver and you also get features like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Wireless Charging, 3x USB ports, a 10.25” digital instrument cluster able to display all manner of driving data and how much electric oomph is being provided at any given time.

On the safety front, the Kona Hybrid also scores well with Brake Assist, Rear View Camera, Rear Parking Sensors, Rain Sensing Wipers, 6 Airbags, Adaptative Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and Blind Spot Collision Avoidance. The Kona also scores a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

When factoring in practicality, the Kona Hybrid is decent but not amazing by any stretch. Rear passengers of a taller disposition may find it cramped, but if you intend to use your Kona as a daily run around rather than a family tourer, this is no real hardship. Boot space sits at 374L capacity and while loading and unloading is easy enough, I just wish it could be just that little bit bigger.

Move off and while sitting high with a good view all around of your immediate surroundings, the Kona’s transition between electric and hybrid drive is a seamless one. While I would have liked the ability of switching between electric and hybrid drive at low speeds, it’s a very good set up nonetheless.

I was able to get fuel consumption averages of 5.5L/100km on many occasions. While I did not get the chance to take the Kona Hybrid on a serious long-haul drive, there is little doubt in my mind you will be likely to achieve close to 700kms on a single tank.

The power gets put down nicely and in Sport mode there is a very subtle kick when you give its some extra right foot encouragement. However, don’t think the Kona Hybrid is sprightly. It gets along well, but don’t expect to have your fillings rearranged every time you give it heaps.

What was quite surprising was its ability to exhibits “warm hatch” style handling characteristics. You have a good turning circle and flicking it around a tight city street or urban backroad yields a smattering of satisfaction.

The Hyundai Kona Hybrid Series II has a good amount going for it. Despite some hard plastics and somewhat restrictive rear quarters, there is lots to like here. Plus, its ability to save you a few bob at the pump can only be a good thing. For those not wanting to splash out on the fully electric variant, this hybrid Hyundai could be just the ticket.

RATING 7.5/10

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