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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
@ytimesmotoring
12:01 PM 9th December 2020
cars

Kona Electric From Hyundai – A Real World Test

We are beginning to see a raft of new electric cars hitting the market with plenty more due over the next few years.

In order to be prepared, I have just had a Rolec home charger fitted by local agents, the aptly named Plug it in Group. The efficient installation took a couple of hours and the unit fitted is smart and unobtrusive, just as requested.

In order to try it out, Hyundai kindly sent me a Kona Electric in Premium SE trim and equipped with the larger 64kWh lithium-ion battery, yours for £38,500 after deducting the government’s grant.

The practical body style boasts ample space for four average sized people and there is a decent 332-litre boot for luggage etc.

In SE trim the Kona Electric is extremely well equipped. Expect to find heated leather seats, a smart and easy to use touchscreen, satellite navigation and a useful head-up display.

The drive

Operating an electric vehicle is simplicity itself. Jump aboard, press the start button and be greeted by the sound of silence. In the Kona, a push button gear selector sits prominently on the dashboard, so a quick press of the ‘D’ button and you are off.

There is a choice of three different modes. Select ‘Eco’ if you wish to maximise the available range, ‘Comfort’ for everyday driving and ‘Sport’ if you want to have fun.
And you can have fun, as the Kona is one of the better handling cars in its class. There is ample power too, the car feeling faster than the quoted 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds. On damp roads, with the Sport button firmly pressed, the front tyres can struggle for grip. Sadly, no four-wheel drive version is available.

It matters not as I suspect most EV buyers are more interested in ease of use and the range available. Hyundai state that up to 300 miles is possible in ideal conditions.

During my winter test period, the fully charged Kona was indicating 279 miles of range, more than ample I would suggest.

The range is precise too as a 75-mile trip saw the range drop by almost exactly that amount. Furthermore, as I was feeling the chill of winter, the heater was on and it was ably assisted by the heated seats and steering wheel. No guess work required here, and as regular readers might have guessed, the car was driven with gusto.

Charging

It is possible to charge the Kona Electric up to 80% in just 75 minutes using a fast 50 kW public charger. With my new Rolec 7kW unit, the quoted time rises to 9 hours and 35 minutes.

Hyundai thoughtfully supply a 13-amp adaptor, ideal if you are caught out with no public charger to hand.

Public charging can be a bit of a lottery especially away from urban conurbations, but this is set to rapidly improve as more and more of us make the switch to fully electric vehicles.

The rivals

The first generation of electric cars came with a modest range. I recall having a Nissan Leaf which indicated a range of just 75 miles when fully charged. As it was a winter test, I was not convinced I would be able to make a 50-mile round trip.

This was my first experience of range anxiety, an interesting phenomenon. You drive with a constant beady eye on the range gauge and panic quietly as the intended destination seems like an impossible dream. I do not recommend it.

We are now seeing smaller electric cars such as the new MINI Electric and Honda e hitting the market. Both offer a comfortable 100-mile range and are ideal for the more urban driver.

Kia’s sister company Kia offer the e-Niro and with it comes a similar range to the Kona and a little more internal passenger space.

New to the market is the Volkswagen ID.3, not yet driven, but boasting an on-paper range of 260 miles. Priced from just under £30,000, with top spec models around £10,000 more.

I would also mention that many larger electric cars will struggle to better 200 miles in the real world and in that category, I would include the Jaguar I-PACE and Audi e-Tron.

Verdict

The Hyundai Kona Electric has been on sale for nearly two years and was comfortably ahead of the game. Offering a range only bettered by Tesla’s expensive offerings, here was an electric car without compromise and one which proved easy to use.

This is still true today and although rivals are now offering cars with a similar range, the Kona should still be on every EV buyer’s list.

Swinging the deal in the Kona’s favour may well be the 5-year general warranty and the knowledge that the battery itself is covered for a further three years on top.

The Kona Electric is therefore a car I am happy to heartily recommend to anyone. If like many you are unsure whether now is the time to wave farewell to the combustion engine, a test drive at your friendly Hyundai dealer may convince you to sign on the dotted line. Be ahead of the game, drive a Kona Electric, you may well not look back.

Fast Facts

Hyundai Kona Premium SE 64 kWh
Price £38,500 after government grant
204PS electric motor
395Nm torque
0-62mph in 7.6 seconds
Top speed 104mph
Range up to 300 miles (WLTP)
5-year warranty
8-year battery warranty

For more details of Rolec Chargers: www.rolecserv.com
For more details of Plug it in Group: www.plugitinevsolutions.co.uk