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2024 Hyundai Kona Hybrid review – Australian launch (video)

At this point of vehicle electrification development, regular hybrid powertrains seem to be the best balance. Because you don’t have to worry about charging or range anxiety, but you’re still getting the boost of e-motor assistance to slash fuel consumption.

Hyundai Australia has just launched its new Kona Hybrid, which looks quite promising because it applies straight-forward, unobtrusive technology to a package that’s already practical yet dynamic for its class. It also sits in the small SUV segment, where hybrids are still pretty rare. So it has a bit of an edge.

2024 Hyundai Kona Hybrid: Specifications

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder hybrid
Electrical: 1.32kWh battery, 32kW/170Nm e-motor
Combined output: 104kW / 265Nm
Gearbox: Six-speed dual-clutch auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 18×7.0, 215/55
ANCAP: Not tested
Kerb weight: 1525kg
Power-to-weight: 14.66:1 (kg:kW)
Official consumption: 3.9L/100km
Fuel tank/Fuel type: 50L/95 RON
Power efficiency: 26.66kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.32 seconds*
0-100km/h: 10.14 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.65 seconds*
Starting price: $36,000

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2024 Hyundai Kona Hybrid: How much does it cost?

There are four versions of the new Kona hybrid available in Australia, including the base, the Premium, and then the N Line and N Line Premium. You can jump into the base model from $36,000 (excluding on-roads), which is reasonable value for a hybrid.

Prices then move up to $40,000 for the Premium, and from $43,500 for the N Line and $46,500 for the N Line Premium. Against its nearest rivals, the prices, especially at the lower end, stack up quite well in our view.

2024 Hyundai Kona Hybrid: Interior & packaging

The 2024 Kona shifts to Hyundai-Kia’s K3 platform, like what is seen underneath the latest i30 sedan (Elantra) and Kia Niro. With this, Hyundai has managed to increase cabin space in most areas. The first-gen Kona was always a bit on the smaller side of its class, especially in the back. Now this new model is clearly on the larger side.

Rear-seat passengers will feel pampered thanks to 77mm of extra legroom and 11mm more headroom. It also boasts one of the largest shoulder room measurements in its class, Hyundai claims, at 1402mm. Boot space has increased to 407L from 374L, putting it at the upper end of the segment.

Looking around the cabin it can seem a bit bare and basic in terms of materials, with big lengths of hard plastic spreading across the dash and door trims. However, it could be fairly durable following extended ownership, and at least it should be pretty easy to clean with some good-old Spray ‘n’ Wipe.

Up on the dash all models come with dual 12.3-inch screens that span across the front view on one seamless, thin-rimmed housing. It’s a nice interface with clear graphics and neat animations, making it easy to use while driving.

All models come with Hyundai’s Bluelink system which is basically a remote connection to the vehicle. Users can use a smartphone app to check and interact with the Kona from anywhere, and it includes emergency assist features such as SOS and automatic calling to emergency services in the event of an accident.

The system also incorporates voice recognition so you can basically tell the vehicle what you want it to do. Obviously it can’t make you a coffee, but you can tell it to adjust climate settings, change media functions, and activate windows and the tailgate.

With the latest software suite the 2024 Kona offers over-the-air update functionality. Benefits include being able to apply updates to the interface, sat-nav, and some vehicle functions. The possibilities are almost endless. Hyundai could even roll out a new cheat mode to deactivate its annoying driver assist systems.

Yep, the Kona comes fitted with all of the latest and not-so-greatest active safety so-called assist functions, including lane-keep with automated steering help, speed sign recognition and a lovely warning buzzer that goes off at every chance it gets. Seriously though, when you go for your test drive be sure to drive it on the open road so you can experience these technologies before you buy and spend extended time with it – personally, the systems would drive me crazy.

2024 Hyundai Kona Hybrid: Powertrain & handling

Under the bonnet is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with a 32kW/170Nm electric motor. This all runs through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission with front-wheel drive only. It’s actually a similar setup to what we saw in the original Hyundai Ioniq sedan.

Hyundai has made some changes to the petrol engine, though. It runs the Atkinson’s cycle combustion sequence, invented in 1882, as opposed to the regular Otto cycle. Atkinson’s cycle is known for improved power density and economy. With that, the injection system is turned up to 350 bar, and the compression ratio is increased to 14:1 from 13:1 to further improve efficiency.

As a result, it produces exactly the same amount of power and torque. Well, the combined system does anyway. The petrol engine produces 77kW, the same as the original Ioniq, but with 144Nm instead of 147Nm. A new electric motor fills in any gaps.

In terms of performance, we ran some 0-100km/h tests with the Vbox during our test drive as part of the Australian media launch event. The best result we saw was 10.14 seconds. That’s reasonable for a hybrid. But more importantly, it returns a very low fuel consumption average of just 3.9L/100km on the official cycle.

Opting for the N Line pack might cause some disappointment. Because, you’ll look at the Kona and think, ‘Wow, this looks hot so it must be sporty and fast.’ But you’ll be disappointed by that 10-second 0-100km/h acceleration. In that respect the regular models could be seen as more consistent packages.

In saying that though the N Line pack does provide a fresh and distinctive design upgrade. It looks like it could be a full-cream N model. Check out that massive wing at the back, and the black highlights around the body, the two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels, and the front lip spoiler.

Hyundai hasn’t mentioned anything about suspension enhancements specific to the N Line pack. Again, that’s a bit disappointing as it means the N Line is purely a cosmetic thing. Although you do get a bespoke interior trim and nice seats.

Regardless of any of that, the latest Kona has been locally-tested and evaluated to ensure it handles tough Aussie conditions. And it seems to just fine. The suspension is quite absorbent and seems to offer a broad suspension stroke, yet it turns in with enthusiasm and presents good body control. It’s a thoroughly sorted drive, for its intended purpose.

We’re glad Hyundai opted for a six-speed dual-clutch auto as well, because a CVT would just water it down too much in our opinion. Dual-clutch gearboxes aren’t really known for their smoothness, but, here, the electric motor feels like it might actually benefit this area by ironing out any moments of jerkiness. We had no issues or concerns during our drive anyway.

2024 Hyundai Kona Hybrid: First impressions verdict

Overall this is a comprehensive small SUV that is filled with lots of technology. It’s very safe and sure-footed on the road, feels dynamic in that it can handle dodgy city streets as well as a blast down a mountain road, and it is reasonably priced against other hybrid options in this class.

We don’t like the over-the-top safety assist technologies (you can turn them off but they come back on when you next start the vehicle), and the N Line pack is great but it might be a bit misleading depending on your expectations based on the visual hype it presents.

2024 Hyundai Kona Hybrid: Video

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.

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