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New car review

Hyundai Kona Electric test drive

The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers cutting-edge tech in a compact package and a competitive price. But what else can it deliver?

Electric cars have gradually been growing in popularity in the past few years, and the consensus is certainly that they represent the next step in our collective motoring future.

The problem is that their appeal to car buyers continues to be limited, because of either their high list prices or limited electric ranges. This is not helped by manufacturers overstating range estimates, in some cases by an enormous margin.

Even models such as the best-selling Nissan Leaf suffer from this. The Leaf has a real-world electric range of about 130 miles in normal driving conditions, compared to its claim of about 170 miles – let alone the fact that a conventional petrol or diesel hatch will easily cover 200+ miles and only take five minutes to fill up again.

Hyundai, however, has quickly established itself as one of the leading manufacturers when it comes to new tech and fuels, and models such as the Kona Electric – which we’re testing today – are certainly giving rival firms something to worry about.

What’s new about the Hyundai Kona Electric?

The obvious difference in the Kona Electric is its electrification, with two different battery packs offered (depending on how many miles you need between charges).

As with the majority of EVs, the Kona’s grille has been closed off, leaving a ‘smoothed-off’ look, with revised front and rear bumpers and also unique (to the Electric) 17-inch alloys.

An impressive amount of standard safety equipment is also fitted, with all models coming with kit such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control.

How does it look?

As with the standard Kona, the styling is quite divisive. The changes made to the Electric give it an added edge over the standard car, but it’s not all positive.

We like the two-tone roof and the smoothed and dimpled front grille, while the painted plastic cladding pulls off the “Look, I can go off-road” crossover styling far better than other models. But the textured 17-inch alloys are not pleasant – and almost appear aftermarket, although we appreciate they’re there to help efficiency.

The silver trim applied to both the interior and exterior also isn’t something you expect to find on a car costing £30,000 upwards, either. It feels low-rent and not the premium quality you might expect when splashing this much cash on a small crossover.

What’s the spec like?

Three trims are offered on the Kona Electric – SE, Premium and range-topping Premium SE, which our test car was. SE is only offered with the smaller 39kWh battery pack, with standard equipment including a seven-inch touchscreen, adaptive cruise control and a reversing camera.

Premium brings a load more kit – such as front and rear parking sensors, a Krell sound system and an eight-inch touchscreen, as well as further safety equipment. Premium SE comes laden with kit, with extras including LED headlights, a heated steering wheel and a head-up display.

Prices for the Kona Electric start from £30,750 on-road, or £36,345 for the more desirable 64kWh version.

Continued on next page: Interior, drive and our verdict

Ted Welford
Articles by Ted Welford are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.
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