Supremely Efficient Subcompact Hyundai Crossover That Will Look Better Than Its Competition

Just after we saw spy photographs of the Kia Ceed Sportswagon PHEV, the internet world provided us with photographs of the new Kona PHEV. The small Hyundai city crossover is already available in its gasoline, diesel, and electric guise. The upcoming PHEV will, most certainly, circle out the offering of the highly successful crossover. Caught on film (well, on an SD card really), somewhere in Germany, the new Hyundai Kona PHEV may even prepare us for the upcoming facelifted version of the same car. Before all of that, we have to get adjusted to the fact that small, classy, and fashion conscious crossovers are selling as hybrids like hotcakes. Just note the Toyota CH-R hybrid. We actually do know that the photographed Kona is a hybrid thanks to an eye witness of the photographer who said that it was filled up at a petrol station, but it drove off completely silent probably on electric power alone. Well, in that case, that makes this an “ear witness”, but what the hell!?

2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV Exterior

2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV
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Heavily camouflaged, the Kona PHEV is expected to wear hybrid-centric styling cues such as those we have seen on the Ioniq hybrid or even on the Kona EV. Basically, the styling will be adapted for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. The first glimpses of such an arrangement can be seen on the wheels.

Aero-style alloy wheels are one of the most notable differences between the upcoming Kona PHEV and the standard ICE-powered Kona.

Going with the same logic, I can assume the Kona PHEV will have a revised grille, a sleeker front bumper design, and possibly a small rear spoiler. As far as makeup goes - expect to see it with the standard LED headlights and taillights.

It is a similar story with the Niro PHEV, although I have to say that the Kona looks a whole lot sexier.

2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV Interior

2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV
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The photographer who caught the Kona PHEV in Germany managed to take a glimpse of the inside as well. He found out something really interesting - the Kona PHEV will have a redesigned central stalk with a rather large, 10.25-inch display.

I looked as close as I could at it and figured that it is exactly the same as in the redesigned Ioniq that appeared some weeks ago.

The new display will grant you access to all imaginable Hyundai Bluelink telematic services and Hyundai Live services.

Apple CarPlay? Android Auto?
You betcha!

Obviously, the integration of the new screen got me thinking - is this actually a redesigned Kona? It maybe is, but I won’t go that far and confirm this despite a lot of hints:

  • The new propulsion system that can be introduced with the redesigned model
  • Redesigned front and rear
  • New Interior features that haven’t been available before and that look the same as the latest redesigned Hyundai.

Nevertheless, the new Kona PHEV will most certainly be a looker.

2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV Drivetrain

2017 Hyundai Ioniq - Driven High Resolution Drivetrain
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With the introduction of the Ioniq Hybrid, the Ioniq PHEV, and the Ioniq Electric, Hyundai demonstrated its conviction for building efficient cars with alternative propulsion systems. Hyundai will, most likely, install the same PHEV gear from the Ioniq PHEV into the Kona PHEV.

In the small sedan-looking Ioniq, the PHEV consists of the 60-horsepower electric motor and familiar, 1.6-liter gasoline engine that delivers 105 horsepower.

This system gives the Ioniq a unique ability to achieve 31 miles of all-electric range or return 125 mpg‑e. Of crouse, real-life economy is a bit more, well, real, but you get the picture. It’s a really efficient car. I suspect that the Kona PHEV will be at least as efficient. I hope it will be quicker somehow. After all, the Ioniq PHEV can reach 62 mph in 10.8 seconds. While this would be good enough 20 years ago, it definitely isn’t good enough today.

Now, I can see that the Kia Niro PHEV has the same exact hybrid system and that one can reach 62 mph in 11 seconds and top out at 107 mph. The Kona PHEV could be an exact match.

2019 Hyundai Kona Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 175 HP 147 HP
Torque 195 LB-FT @ 1,500 RPM 132 LB-FT @ 4,500 RPM
Transmission six-speed automatic six-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 7.5 seconds 10 seconds
Top Speed 130 mph 130 mph

2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV Prices

Right now, the most expensive 2019 Hyundai Kona Ultimate starts at $26,250. Considering that the PHEV will be loaded with gear (including a bigger screen) and will have all-electric drive capability, I can see it start around $2,000 more than the Kona Ultimate.

After all, the Kia Niro PHEV, that is basically the direct competitor to the Kona PHEV, starts at $28,000. And the Kona feels far more beautiful.

2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV Competition

Kia Niro PHEV

2017 Kia Niro High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 665038

Obviously, the Kia Niro PHEV and the upcoming Hyundai Kona PHEV will be really similar. After all, these two should share the propulsion system, they will be priced similarly but will look completely different inside out. In essence, you are basically choosing the shape, the driving feel, and the image. Would you like a Kona or a Niro? It’s up to you.

Read our full review on the 2019 Kia Niro PHEV

Toyota CH-R Hybrid (at least in Europe and Japan)

2018 Toyota C-HR High Resolution Exterior
- image 667809

Believe it or not, the Toyota CH-R is actually a hybrid in Europe and in Japan. It has the same hybrid system as in the Prius, but it is not a Plug-in Hybrid. Just a plain hybrid. Regardless of this, I find it is a worthy competitor to the Hyundai Kona PHEV. I must add, however, that it is not as powerful as the Kona PHEV will probably be. But it is interesting, quirky, and stylish. I can get behind that.

Read our full review on the 2019 Toyota C-HR.

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Exterior
- image 805074

Again, this is not a PHEV, but a hybrid and an expensive one at that. It starts north of $34,000, and that makes it far more expensive compared to the Niro PHEV and, I believe, the upcoming Kona Hybrid. On the other hand, it does have an awesome AWD system, a bit more space inside, and a new high-quality interior.

Read our full review on the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid


2020 Hyundai Kona PHEV
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With the introduction of the new Hyundai Kona PHEV, Hyundai will basically offer all the possible propulsion options for the Kona. On the world scale, the Kona is available with a diesel or a gasoline engine, an electric motor, and a hybrid system. If it were available with an engine that can run on CNG from the get-go, I would actually compare it with the Volkswagen Golf. You know why? Because that’s the car that is available with all imaginable propulsion systems.
Despite the lack of CNG, with the Kona PHEV, Hyundai demonstrated incredible ability to provide a platform that supports all the modern technologies with room to grow. I am actually amazed by Hyundai advancements for the past decade. The Kona may not be a big vehicle, but it is a testament to something great.

  • Leave it
    • Do you really want to pay 30 grand for a subcompact Hyundai crossover?
    • It cannot be particularly quick
    • I find the CH-R a bit more interesting, although that one isn’t available as a hybrid in the U.S.

Further reading

2018 Hyundai Kona
- image 748938

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona Electric.

Today you can buy the Hyundai Kona either as a fully electric car or as a conventional car with a petrol or diesel engine.

But that will soon change as Hyundai is working on a plug-in hybrid version of the Kona.

We spotted a prototype while fuelling up some petrol and while leaving the gas station it was driving in electric mode.

At the gas station we managed to get a few glimpses inside the car but except for the now bigger infotainment screen we didn’t spot so much new.

The buttons sitting on each side of the screen are now gone and have moved to the bottom of the screen that now looks to be a touch screen.

Regarding the plug-in hybrid system we think that the Kona will use the system from the Hyundai Ioniq.

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