✓ Striking looks
✓ Very quiet and refined
✓ Nice to drive
✓ Efficient hybrid drivetrain
✘ Unintuitive infotainment system
✘ Reduced horsepower for Singapore
Amidst all the hubbub about electric cars in Singapore these days, hybrids seem to have fallen a bit off the radar from the average car buyer’s thinking. Perhaps it could be down to the ubiquity of hybrid cars here such that they are pretty much regarded as part of the automotive furniture now, as compared to full EVs which still remain a bit of a novelty in Singapore, but hybrids remain a rather great value proposition if you bother to give them some attention.
For one, hybrids make the perfect choice for those who want to see a drastic reduction in their fuel bills, but aren’t quite ready to make the leap into full EV-hood, perhaps due to a lack of easy access to charging infrastructure. And one of the latest hybrids to hit the market here is the new Hyundai Kona Hybrid.
And by new, we do mean all new. Straight from the off, the Kona’s styling marks a major departure from its predecessor, with its sleek streamlined look that’s highlighted by the slim horizontal headlight and taillight treatment. The front headlight bar in particular is a trick copied from the Staria, and the overall effect gives the Kona a futuristic look that wouldn’t seem out of place on a sci-fi movie set.
It’s also noteworthy that the hybrid Kona now looks virtually identical to the electric model, which is due in Singapore really soon. This is unlike the previous generation where there were significant styling differences between hybrid and electric, and on the new model, probably the only external indicator to differentiate the two is the existence of the charging flap on the electric Kona.
Likewise, the interior shares the same futuristic theme as the exterior styling, with the now-ubiquitous large double LCD screen setup spanning the dashboard, complemented by some bright green highlights throughout the interior. But Hyundai has also wisely not gone overboard with the screen too, and there are a plethora of buttons to access functions like the climate and audio controls, heated and cooling seats, drive modes and so forth. Just as well then as the infotainment system itself can be a bit tricky to decipher and navigate around, with its fairly unintuitive user interface that hides some functions within several menus.
Nevertheless, the rest of the interior is still pretty functional, with lots of storage spaces large and small. There is also no shortage of ways to charge your phone in the Kona too, with a wireless charger available, as well as no less than four USB-C charging ports (two in front and two at the back), plus a 12V socket in case you need it.
The column shifter stalk, borrowed from the Ioniq 5, frees up space in the centre for a generous double cupholder, accompanied by a large storage space just behind it, hiding under the removable front armrest, which is perfect for a bottled drink or two. Boot space is pretty generous too, at 466 litres, expandable to a massive 1,300 if you fold the rear seats down.
There’s space for people too of course, with the new Kona having grown all round from its predecessor. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 60mm, which translates into 77mm more leg room for rear passengers, while headroom has also increased by 11mm. For the front occupants, there’s also something called the ‘relaxation comfort seats’, which puts the chair into fully recline mode at a touch of a single dedicated button, perfect for if you need to take a break from driving perhaps.
Not that you’ll really need it much, because the Kona Hybrid does feel pretty relaxing to drive in any case. The first thing that strikes you is how quiet it is, which is naturally as expected of a hybrid car that runs on electric power on startup. But even when the combustion engine kicks in, the sheer silence is particularly impressive. It’s paired with a ride quality that’s capable and composed, and overall the Kona Hybrid feels remarkably refined, in a rather soothing way that puts you at ease, which seems to be a theme that runs through this car.
At yet at the same time, the Kona does have some pretty impressive chops when you decide to have a little fun. The car corners reasonably well for what is supposed to be an urban crossover, with its direct steering and well-controlled chassis making the Kona one of the most well-sorted cars to drive in this segment.
It’s not a powerful car by any means, with the engine tweaked for Singapore to produce 129hp to enable it to slot in into COE Category A, but as a whole the Kona feels composed and competent to make driving it generally a pleasure. And given that it is a hybrid, you also get the benefit of real world fuel savings. Over a weekend’s drive we managed to clock an average of 4.8L/100km, very close to Hyundai’s official figures of 4.7L/100km.
For what it’s worth, unless you’re exceptionally nit-picky, it’s tremendously hard to find much to fault with the Kona Hybrid. Underneath the Kona’s striking clothes lies a car that essentially ticks all the right boxes that its target customer would typically demand, and therein lies its appeal. The Kona may seem like yet another crossover in an overcrowded market, but its relative strengths means you risk dismissing it at your own peril.
Photos by Ben Chia, Cheng Yu Hung
Read the full article here: https://carbuyer.com.sg/2023-hyundai-kona-hybrid-review-singapore-price/
Test Drive: https://hyundai.com.sg/test-drive/
Hyundai Kona Hybrid Elite
Drivetrain: Petrol-electric full hybrid
Engine: 1,560cc, inline 4
Power: 129hp at 5700rpm
Torque: 265Nm at 4000rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed dual-clutch
Electric Motor: 43hp
Battery: Lithium ion, 1.32kWh
System Power: 129hp
T0-100km/h: 11.4 seconds
Top Speed: 165km/h
VES Banding: A2 / -S$15,000
Fuel Efficiency: 4.7L/100km
Agent: Komoco Motors
Price: S$192,999 with COE
Verdict: Striking looks, impressively quiet, decent to drive and highly efficient, the new Kona Hybrid is an extremely well-rounded crossover that hits all the right spots.