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Driven: 2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.

Driven: 2023 Hyundai Bayon
With prices starting at just over £21,000, could Hyundai’s smallest SUV be one of the best value cars on the road?


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2023 Hyundai Bayon

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The unassuming Bayon is something of a forgotten car in the Hyundai range, slotting in beneath the ever-popular Kona as the South Korean brand's cheapest SUV. But with the promise of compact dimensions, practicality and reliability, as well as a competitive starting price, could it be a gem that's hiding in plain sight?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Hyundai Bayon Ultimate 1.0T 120PS 48V Mild Hybrid 6iMT
Price: Bayon from £21,320, Ultimate from £24,820
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol with 48-volt mild-hybrid system
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 120hp
Torque: 171Nm
Emissions: 121g/km
Economy/Range: 52.3mpg
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Top speed: 115mph
Boot space: 334-1,205 litres


Perhaps the Bayon's biggest problem is its styling, which manages to be neither pretty nor ugly, and therefore falls into the gap of forgettability. It's such a generic shape that you're unlikely to look at it twice, and even those who do will find some awkwardness to the design. There's something too flat about the front, while the rear roof pillar is a bit chunky considering how streamlined the door mirrors are. It isn't disastrous by any stretch, but nobody is going to be swooning over it. Especially when you park it next to the now quite attractive Kona.


Like the exterior, the Bayon's cabin doesn't break much in the way of new ground, but then it simply won't break, either. It feels really solid and robust, with well engineered switchgear and panels that fit together neatly. Perhaps some of the plastics could be better, but in a car this cheap, you can't complain too much about the odd bit of cost-cutting. It still feels as though it'll last the course, after all.

The mood is lifted somewhat by the technology, though, with a really solid touchscreen that isn't fancy, but does the job with minimum fuss. Even better is the digital instrument display that's fitted as standard across the range. It's sharp, easy to read, and equipped with useful features including the blind spot cameras that look down the car's flanks whenever you indicate.


In a small SUV, practicality is often the name of the game, and the Bayon delivers reasonable interior space for passengers and drivers. The driving position is pretty good, and the cabin feels pretty airy from the front. It's spacious enough in the back, too, with ample headroom and legroom for two adults to occupy the rear bench. We wouldn't want to put three in there, but two will be perfectly comfortable. Unfortunately, luggage space isn't quite so generous, but a 334-litre boot isn't disastrous. It's just not quite as spacious as a Kia Stonic or a Seat Arona, and that makes the Bayon little more useful than a common-or-garden supermini such as the VW Polo.


Bayon customers can choose from a range of engines, but all are essentially small petrol motors, and some - including our test car - are offered with a little electrical assistance in the form of a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

Officially, our 120hp mild-hybrid system should be one of the perkiest in the range, but a 10.4-second sprint (or should that be canter) from 0-62mph is no better than adequate. Sporty it ain't.

That's partly down to the gearbox, though, which is one of the stranger transmissions we've come across. Though it appears to be a fairly conventional six-speed manual, it's apparently "intelligent". Quite how it does that, we aren't sure, but it certainly doesn't seem intelligent. The shift action is smooth, but alarmingly light, and the clutch is so light it almost totally lacks feel, making it hard to find the high and quite narrow bite point.

Still, it isn't all bad. The car is hugely efficient, and we matched the claimed economy of just over 50mpg without really trying. On a longer run, you'll regularly see around 55mpg flash up on the readout.

Ride & Handling

Local driving is clearly the Bayon's forte, despite the dodgy gearbox/clutch arrangement, and it's set up for urban environments rather than the open road. The steering is light - almost disconcertingly so - and the suspension feels better suited to soaking up the bumps than retaining control of that body.

But the truth is that the Bayon isn't especially comfortable - it's about average for cars in this class - yet it handles relatively well. It isn't sporty in any way, but there's plenty of grip and though body control isn't brilliant at first, it does stop rolling quite quickly, which would make it reasonably good fun were the steering more reassuring. As it is, you'll lose confidence long before the car reaches its limits.

And while the Bayon is at its best in town, nipping around and making use of the good visibility, the little Hyundai is fairly competent on the motorway. There's a bit of noise, but it feels pretty stable and the fuel efficiency is highly appealing.


Bayon prices start at just £21,320 for the basic SE Connect model, and that's pretty cheap considering the Skoda Kamiq, Seat Arona and Volkswagen T-Cross are all more expensive. And while it's true you'll spend very slightly less on a basic SsangYong Tivoli or Kia Stonic, the Bayon still stacks up well when it comes to equipment. Even at the entry level, the Bayon gets alloy wheels, a reversing camera, and manual air conditioning, not to mention handy roof rails, a touchscreen, and a digital instrument cluster. It isn't bad for a car that costs just over £21,000.


The Bayon is not an exciting car in any way, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's spacious, efficient, and if you avoid the "iMT" manual gearbox it's pretty easy to drive. For a lot of customers, that'll be all they really need, and all the tech and features will be a bonus. Particularly at such a competitive price.

James Fossdyke - 27 Sep 2023    - Hyundai road tests
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2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.

2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.2023 Hyundai Bayon. Image by Hyundai.


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