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Hyundai Kona Electric (2018) review: pick of the bunch

Published:03 February 2020

Hyundai Kona Electric: UK prices from £29,495 at launch in 2018
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Keith WR Jones

Managing editor of the Bauer Automotive hub and car brochure library owner

By Keith WR Jones

Managing editor of the Bauer Automotive hub and car brochure library owner

► Hyundai Kona Electric review
► We drive 'affordable' SUV EV 
► Long-range 64kWh battery tested

Following the debut of the Hyundai Kona in 2017 with a petrol-only powertrain line-up, 2018 hass seen the arrival of the diesel and now this, the Kona Electric eSUV. And here’s the thing: it’s our pick of the range, particularly if you go for the one with a 64kWh battery.

The best electric cars on sale in the UK today

Good things come to those who wait, so they say, but in the case of the Hyundai Kona Electric, it’s actually true. Read our review to find out why.

Hyundai Kona Electric rear

Small, electric crossover doesn’t sound that fun…

Wait. 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.

Hyundai Kona Electric car review and road test: UK prices, specs and more

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.

Hyundai Kona petrol and diesel review

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.

Hyundai Kona Electric plugged in: how to charge your Hyundai EV

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.

Hyundai Kona Electric interior and cabin

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.

Hyundai Konda Electric: verdict

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.

New 2018 Hyundai Kona EV

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…

More Hyundai reviews by CAR magazine


Price when new: £29,495
On sale in the UK: August 2018
Engine: Electric motor, 201bhp, 291lb ft
Transmission: One-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Performance: 7.6sec 0-62mph, 104mph, 0g/km at the tailpipe
Weight / material: 1685kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4180/2070/1565mm


Other Models

Hyundai Kona Leasing Deals

Photo Gallery

  • Hyundai has beaten the big boys to an affordable electric SUV: meet the Kona EV
  • It's a regular Hyundai Kona... until you spot that Electric badge on the boot
  • Hyundai Kona Electric in profile: note the contrasting two-tone roof paintwork
  • Hyundai Kona Electric interior: cabin markedly different from regular Konas
  • The 201bhp, 291lb ft electric motor in the Hyundai Kona EV
  • Boot space in the Hyundai Kona Electric: EVs can be practical!
  • Trip computer in Hyundai Kona Electric sports all the usual EV party tricks
  • Hyundai Kona Electric review by CAR magazine

By Keith WR Jones

Managing editor of the Bauer Automotive hub and car brochure library owner