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.
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.
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
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 Konda Electric
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.