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Small SUV of the Year 2023: Hyundai Kona

The Hyundai Kona is the 2023 Auto Express Small SUV of the Year, with the Jeep Avenger and Kia Niro commended

The original Hyundai Kona scored highly because, in pure-electric form, it packed a relatively large battery into a compact SUV body. But customers soon said that they’d like a bit more space in the rear, and a more capable boot – and that’s precisely what the Korean manufacturer has delivered with this all-new generation.

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The latest Kona switches onto the same multi-powertrain platform as the Kia Niro, but feels like a mini-Tucson, with sci-fi front-end styling and complex body surfacing around an excellent cabin that delivers space for four grown-ups, and a 466-litre boot that’ll trump many a family hatchback’s.

Hyundai doesn’t offer a plug-in hybrid version, but the line-up of powertrains is still flexible, with pure-petrol and full-hybrid options alongside the 48kWh and 65kWh Kona Electrics. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll notice a substantial improvement in cabin fit and finish, with high-quality materials in all of the key areas and, on all versions, twin 12.3-inch displays for instruments and infotainment, as seen on the likes of the Ioniq 5.

The Kona mirrors this more grown-up approach on the road too, with its longer wheelbase and new platform delivering a solid mix of comfort and body control. And in our hands, the pure-electric 65kWh version still looked likely to overcome the increase in size and get close to its claimed 300 miles of range. This new car just feels like a step change, not only for Hyundai, but also for the class in general – a truly worthy award winner.

Our choice

Hyundai Kona Electric Advance Comfort Pack (£39,145)

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You can take a Kona Electric north of £45k – but we’d go for the 65kWh battery, in basic Advance trim with the optional Comfort pack. That makes a £39,145 car with 17-inch wheels, two 12.3-inch displays, a rear-view camera, and heated front and rear seats.

Commended

Jeep Avenger

With the Avenger, your EV options are growing. Jeep’s first model properly focused on Europe is unashamedly small, yet has chunky design and a funky cabin. It deserves to sell on image alone, but the dynamics, 154bhp electric motor and decent 248 miles of range give it more depth than that.

Kia Niro

Last year’s winner still has bags of appeal, with excellent practicality and tech, plus the flexibility of full-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric versions. Indeed, the PHEV version could well be an ideal ‘transition’ vehicle for company-car choosers, with its electric-only range of 40 miles.

You’ll find all the information on our New Car Awards 2023 winners and the reasons why we chose them on these pages. Just follow the links below to read more…

New Car Awards 2023: the winners

Special edition of Auto Express

Auto Express Issue 1,787

For the full New Car Awards experience, make sure you pick up a copy of our special 2023 New Car Awards collectors' edition of the Auto Express magazine, which is available in shops now.

You can buy individual issues of Auto Express or subscribe for even bigger discounts on the print magazine cover price. You can currently subscribe or download individual issues of our digital edition direct to your desktop, phone or tablet as well.

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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