► Hyundai Kona Electric review
► We drive 'affordable' SUV EV
► Long-range 64kWh battery tested
Good things come to those who wait, so they say, but in the case of the Hyundai Kona Electric – the Korean marque’s B-segment SUV with a dash of styling sass – it’s true.
Following its debut in 2017 with a petrol-only powertrain line-up, 2018’s seen the arrival of the diesel and now this, the Kona Electric. And here’s the thing: it’s our pick of the range, particularly if you go for the one with a 64kWh battery.
Hyundai Kona petrol and diesel review
A small, electric crossover doesn’t sound especially noteworthy…
Have at you, Luddite. The 64kWh battery version of the Kona Electric is not only swift thanks to its 201bhp electric motor (note the GTI-shaming 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds) but Hyundai also boasts a claimed range of 300 miles between charges.
Okay, that certainly grabs your attention, but you’d have to be pootling around at predominantly urban speeds to achieve it.
That’s the official testing caveat, so what’s it capable of in the real-world? Our drive in and around Oslo included stints on motorways, and even at those heady speeds it was still indicating a battery reserve of 220 miles.
For comparison, a 40kWh Nissan Leaf will typically manage 155 miles at similar speeds.
An overnight recharge on a domestic wallbox will take around nine-and-a-half hours and cost in the region of £9 on most household tariffs at summer 2018 electricity costs.
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That’s an enticing mix – is the new Hyundai Kona Electric fun to drive?
Erm, no. Sure, that rapid burst of acceleration off the line is something that will always be a hoot in most EVs, and the batteries being mounted low down in the platform bestow the Kona Electric with a cornering experience relatively free of bodyroll, but beyond that it’s not an enthusiasts’ delight.
By and large the controls are too light and lacking in sensation to be close to sating keener drivers’ appetite for feedback – instead, the Hyundai’s best appreciated when driven with consideration. In other words, be gentle with it.
It’s far more rewarding anyway as you’ll extend the range available, and it gives you the opportunity to adjust the levels of brake-energy recuperation to suit your tastes. Four stages of regen (from zero to three) can be selected using the steering wheel paddles normally used for manual control of the automatic gearboxes in petrol and diesel Konas.
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The lowest setting turns off the recuperation completely allowing the Kona to coast until it runs out of momentum. It’s not the most efficient way of driving it, so best ramp it up to full and get used to one-pedal driving.
It’s not as aggressive a set-up as the E-Pedal in the Nissan Leaf, but that’s no bad thing – and it will still take you to a complete standstill.
Unlike the Nissan, where the brakes feel disconcerting at best, when you do call upon the Hyundai’s brake pedal in the conventional sense, the experience is one that feels more natural and easier to modulate.
This EV SUV looks different from a regular Kona, too…
You’re not wrong. In place of the gaping grille topped by an Errol Flynn-apeing pencil moustache, the Kona Electric has a more bluff nose, punctuated by geometric shapes, with a vanity flap to hide the charging portal (above).
Bumpers front and rear have also been changed to smooth out airflow, with modified lighting modules to further differentiate it.
A unique-to-the-Kona-Electric colour palette with two-tone roof options completes the exterior makeover.
Unusually, there are changes inside as well (see interior above). In addition to the lighter-hued plastic mouldings compared with the petrol and diesel Konas, the centre console is completely different, being positioned much higher and housing push-button controls for the transmission selector.
That the Kona Electric is the most desirable version of Hyundai’s compact crossover is one thing, but more tellingly it’s instantly become the most appealing mainstream electric car yet launched.
While a Volkswagen e-Golf might be more of a premium-feeling tactile delight and the Nissan Leaf boasts an appreciably roomier cabin, the Kona Electric’s range trounces both of them.
That it’s decent – if unexciting – to drive, well built and with the reassurance of a five-year warranty to boot merely make it more compelling.
The catch? Pick it in flagship Premium SE guise and you’ll need to fork out £31,795 for the ownership privilege – and that’s after the £4500 government plug-in car grant’s been lopped off and before you’ve perused the options list...
Pricey? Yes, but remember 300 miles of driving could cost you just nine quid. Try doing that in a diesel…
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