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Electrify it: Hyundai's Kona EV gets long range and latest tech

 

Hyundai's zero-emissions small SUV, the Kona Electric, is now on sale. It's part of the new breed of EVs with longer ranges.

What's new?

Electric cars are still somewhat niche, and that's largely down to price and range.

Hyundai hopes to conquer both of these with the latest member of its Kona small SUV family, the Kona Electric.

The Kona Electric starts at just over £25k when the government's electric car grant is applied, so this makes it a contender in the mid-market family SUV space.

And the cars with larger batteries have a near-300 mile range, which should banish range anxiety for all but higher-mileage users.

The new Electric is further proof that electric vehicles are increasingly the future, as future developments, particularly in battery technology, will make them even more attractive.

What's the design like?

The Kona Electric gets similar external design and interior as the mainstream Konas, with a dab of new features to make it unique.

Although Hyundai were quick off the mark in the larger and mid-size SUV markets with the Santa Fe and Tucson respectively, they were rather late to the small SUV party.

Hyundai answer to its late arrival was to make it stand out. So the Kona does precisely that by making a bold design statement and some effective use of colours, and the Electric version is no different.

On the outside, there's a big hexagonal grille, stacked headlamps and some striking use of black cladding.

Add in contrast detailing, short overhangs, a low roof line with roof rails as standard, and you have one of the most attractive cars in its class.

Front styling changes exclusive to the Electric include a signature silver garnish connecting the high level daytime running lamps, a closed grille incorporating the charge point and a redesigned front bumper with active air flaps.

From the side, its dedicated 17" alloy wheels, lower side skirt and wheel arch side claddings are clear differentiators from the internal combustion engine versions of the Kona.

Inside, there isn't that much change from its i20 sibling, apart from some dabs of matching colour to brighten things up and connect with the exterior design.

The Electric is available in a choice of 6 colours. Galactic Grey (metallic) is a no cost option finish, with Chalk White (pearl), Tangerine Comet (metallic), Ceramic Blue (pearl), Pulse Red (pearl) and Acid Yellow (metallic) being a £565 option.

Under the bonnet

The Kona Electric in theory enters the crowded small SUV segment, but its electric powertrain should give it an advantage amongst environmentally-minded customers. Key rivals include the Citroen C3 AirCross, Skoda Karoq and Seat Arona.

Unlike its combustion engine siblings, the Electric does not have an engine as such, but it does have a powertrain and batteries to provide the power that moves people around.

It has two zero-emission powertrains, both lithium-ion polymer batteries - a 204PS (150KW) pack and a 135PS (99KW) version.

The more powerful battery has an excellent range of 292 miles, according to Hyundai. This is, in theory, enough to get you from Belfast to Cork (266 miles via the A1 and M8) on a single charge, although it would be a brave driver to try it as real world figures will be somewhat lower.

The smaller battery still has a very good official range: somewhat shy of 200 miles. Again, in theory, enough to get you from, say, Lisburn to Dublin Airport and back (180 miles) on a single charge.

Incidentally, Hyundai says the range is calculated using the more stringent WLTP economy test and should be more comparable to real-world situations than the old method. However, these are still unlikely to reflect your exact experience and needs.

Behind the wheel

The Kona Electric car sits 15mm higher than petrol-powered models, boosting that high driving position that many motorists love.

Electric cars are generally quick off the mark due to strong torque and the lack of a gearbox, and the Kona Electric is no different.

Good ride quality is offered by the same multi-link rear suspension that Hyundai offers in higher-specced normal Konas, delivering improved control and cabin comfort.

Some tech has been imported from the i30 to give the Kona an added competitive edge, including an eight-inch touchscreen with sat-nav on some trim levels.

A unique feature is a shift-by-wire operation gear control. Adjustable regenerative braking system allows the driver to adjust the intensity of the regenerative braking by using the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel.

The system recuperates additional energy when possible. Key information about the car's driving performance and energy usage are displayed on a seven-inch supervision cluster and in a head-up display in the driver's line of sight.

All Electric models come with a high level of standard safety features, including Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition (AEB), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) Lane Keep Assist (LKA), and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tyre pressure display.

Trim levels

The Electric follows a not-unfamiliar Hyundai range offering, with four trim levels: SE, two Premium models depending on battery size and a Premium SE range-topper.

Kicking off the range is the Kona Electric SE 39kWh, with equipment including a 7'' display including DAB, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, rear parking sensors with rear view camera, Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls and a leather steering wheel

Next up is the Kona Electric Premium with additional equipment including the likes of privacy glass, LED rear lamps, front parking sensors, auto dimming rear mirror and automatic windscreen wipers, 8" touchscreen display audio system with Navigation, a Krell audio system with 8 speakers and wireless charging for compatible devices.

The Electric Premium is available with two drivetrains; the 39kWh battery with 100kW motor providing 136PS, or the 64kWh battery with 150kW motor with 204PS, which is the one that delivers the near-300 mile range.

The range-topping Kona Electric Premium SE 64kWh adds additional equipment to the Premium including LED headlamps with High Beam Assist (HBA), static cornering lights and head up display.

Additional enhancements over the Premium specification include leather seat facings, electrically adjustable and heated/ventilated front seats and heated steering wheel.

A two-tone roof is available to order as a £420 option on the Premium & Premium SE models.

Who would buy one?

With a price range of £25,995 - £32,795 including the £4,500 government grant (and excluding optional extras), and a benefit-in-kind rate of 13%, the Kona should appeal to a wide range of drivers including families.

It is roomy inside, good to drive and will cut your motoring costs.

All Electric models come with Hyundai's 5 Year unlimited mileage warranty, roadside assistance package, 5 year annual health check, and 12 Year anti-corrosion warranty.

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