An affordable EV that travels 300 miles on a single charge has been the pipe dream for us in the media, and buyers for the last few years. Now it’s here.
Hyundai announced they were releasing an electrified version of the KONA when the car launched, any further information than that was rather scarce, we knew it would be built on a bespoke platform, but that was about it. A year later and it’s sitting in front of me, and I’m about to test that ‘real world’ range to the max.
You can opt for the electric Kona in two flavours, one has a 39 kWh battery which will travel up to 194 miles, the other is a 64 kWh battery and has a range of up to 300 miles.
The latter will cost you £29,495 in Premium trim, which is around £8,000 more than the equivalent fitted with the 1.6 diesel engine.
Hey, £30k for a small crossover isn’t affordable
You may be sitting there saying ‘Hey, £30k for a small crossover isn’t affordable’, but when we say that word you have to put it into context with other EV’s out there. Currently, the only electric car that can travel that sort of distance is the Tesla Model S. In entry-level guise one of these will get you 304 miles, so probably closer to 260/280 real world, the price of one of those? A cool £68,950. You can have two electric Kona’s and 10k to spend on a luxury holiday for the price of a single Tesla.
This is truly game-changing stuff.
We loved the lines of the Kona when we first went on the launch, it seemed chunky, rugged everything younger buyers look for in a small crossover.
In EV form, we lose the front grille, and bonnet cut out. Instead, there’s a flat nose which houses the charging port on the right-hand side. A new silver band joins both headlamps, and the lower down fog lights are also deleted.
Its looks are far cutesier and softer than it’s ICE brethren. A set of aerodynamically efficient alloys finish off the makeover.
There are five colours to choose from, arguably the best and most ‘EV’ is Chalk White. It contrasts well with the side cladding and makes the Kona look like something from the future.
Pressing the ‘Start’ button and our Kona fires into life, it’s fully charged with a 287-mile range sitting on the dash.
Our challenge was to drive in the KONA Electric Rally across the UK, hitting waypoints to see who can drive the furthest and bag the most points in 12 hours. The actual rally is another story, but it would test that claimed range thoroughly.
Leaving the Hyundai in ‘Eco’ we drove modestly throughout the night, many of the roads on our route were A roads, so we stuck to a sensible 56 MPH for the majority of the time. A few occasions when we dashed onto motorways we upped our speed to 70, but no more.
As always, you get the dawdlers on country lanes, a quick stab of the throttle would see that instant EV torque catapult us past the sloth in question. 0-62 takes 7.6 seconds, easily fast enough to beat most things from the line, even bordering on warm/hot hatch territory.
There are no gears in the Kona just push buttons arranged in a D-pad formation. Press the gear you want and go, not only does it make sense but it keeps the centre console uncluttered.
Steering is nicely weighted, and body roll is well controlled, you’ll find a bit of lean, but it’s predictable and allows you to roll up onto roundabouts without braking, giving you the confidence to let the tyres scrub the speed accordingly.
There are paddles behind the wheel, but rather than change gear they control the level of regenerative braking, neat. Right is down, left is up. We chose to drive the whole 12 hours with it entirely off, this let us coast our way through vast swathes of the west country using only a dab of throttle to keep us maintaining speed.
Braking manually will engage regen, and smooth, moderate braking saw us regain a bit of range over our 380 miles with the Kona.
140 miles in and we still had 110 range left on the dash, not bad going. We finally managed to find a rapid charger that worked (see our other story) with around 34 miles of range left, we had driven a total of 238.6 miles. That means our total range was roughly 272, we lost just 15 miles of range over nearly 7 hours of driving.
To put that into some sort of context, earlier this year we tried to drive 110 miles in a VW e-Golf. It struggled to make it that far on a single charge. We had to have the heating off, the radio off, and drive it at 50 MPH in reduced power mode just to squeeze 110 miles out of it. It was a cold, miserable and thoroughly unpleasant experience.
By comparison, we drove those 238 miles in a nicely warmed, temperate climate, with the radio on, an additional sat nav plugged in and an iPad charging. Any of this in the e-Golf would have impacted our range, yet the Kona just got on with it.
The only time we saw range drop was when we were plugged in and charging. With the Hyundai powered off it became pretty chilly inside at 4am on the edges of Wolverhampton. Setting the heating to on made little difference to our range, but turning the fans up did eat into it, roughly a mile for each increase in fan speed.
For every mile travelled we saw the range decrease by a mile, the e-Golf or even a Renault ZOE can vary wildly depending on how you drive it, what you’re using inside the car etc. In the Kona, you can reliably count on the range left to be accurate.
Our interior was in the light and airy ‘Shale grey’ rather than a dark and oppressive black. It matched the Chalk White exterior and added to the futuristic feel of our Kona. It’s only available on Premium SE but is well worth a look.
One thing we noted afterwards is just how damn comfy the seats are, 12 solid hours of driving and we exited our trusty Hyundai without a twinge or ache about us. Another plus point was the clarity of the Krell audio system, that’s available from Premium and up but all models come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard.
While Tesla is battling to ramp up production of the modern-day Model T, it looks like Hyundai have beat them to it.
£30k may seem steep for a Hyundai and for a baby crossover, but with a 280-mile real-world range, you could replace your petrol motor with ease.
The electric Kona is the first truly affordable EV that you can actually live with, well done Hyundai.