Hyundai's new electric model tested on Irish roads
Pros: Class-leading electric range, refined drive, surprising performance
Cons: Boot space, restricted rear leg room, expensive
Hyundai’s all-electric Kona EV has only recently arrived in Ireland and it’s already one of the best-selling new electric cars thus far in 2019, and one Carzone's most-searched electric models. With a large 64kWH battery and a class-leading range of up to 449 kilometres, it’s easy to see why the all-electric Hyundai is proving so popular too. The Kona EV competes against a host of other electric models including the Nissan LEAF, Renault ZOE and the new Kia e-Niro amongst others. We recently took it for a drive from the east coast of Ireland, to the west coast and back, to see what it’s like to live with on long distance drives.
The KONA electric is a rather good-looking car and it’s arguably more striking than the regular Kona petrol that we tested last year, with slimline LED daytime running lights, a flush front grille and sculpted 17-inch alloy wheels for added aero efficiency. It wears an ‘electric’ badge on the tailgate while a small hatch opens on the front grille to reveal the charging point. The Kona electric has lots of crossover styling traits including tall mud guards and roof rails, while rear privacy windows and electric door mirrors are featured as standard. A two-tone roof is also available for an extra €600, while there is a choice of seven different colour choices including this inoffensive ‘Chalk White’ option.
The Kona electric’s cabin is pleasant with a minimalist centre console layout and brightly coloured leather upholstery throughout. The driver’s position is comfortable with lots of adjustment available from the seat and steering wheel, while infotainment is delivered through a seven-inch touchscreen display that features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, along with a wireless smartphone charger. The Kona electric is spacious and comfortable for front seat passengers, though leg room is somewhat restricted in the rear seats and it is better suited to children than tall adults. As is the case with most electric cars, the Kona electric’s boot is snug at 334 litres in size. This means it isn’t the most practical electric car in the class, though the overall level of standard equipment and indeed the finish of the interior throughout left us impressed and it should cater to the needs of small families.
The 64kWh Kona Electric is surprisingly quick out on the road with a max power output of 150kW or the equivalent of 204 horsepower. Power delivery is instantaneous, and it can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 7.6 seconds with a potential top speed of 167km/h. Driving the Kona electric requires little effort with four buttons controlling drive, reverse, neutral and park. Different driving modes are available including Eco, Comfort and Sport which offers the most performance, but at the expense of battery range. We spent most of our time driving the Kona electric in Eco mode which limits top speed to 120km/h and low-end power delivery, but it meets most requirements and it is impressively efficient in this mode.
With the Kona fully charged and a starting range of 440 kilometres, we drove from Dublin to Galway and further afield with a total driving distance of 320 kilometres, and still had 80 kilometres of range left. In terms of running costs, the Kona Electric undercuts most traditional petrol or diesel models, especially if you charge it at home on night-saver electricity rates. Annual motor tax slots into the lowest bracket of €120, and Hyundai claims it takes 75 minutes to charge the Kona Electric up to 80% on a 50kW rapid charger, while a normal 7.2kW charge will take in the region of nine hours and a half hours. The Kona Electric is sold with a five year unlimited mileage warranty, along with an eight year battery warranty up to 200,000 kilometres. Of course, electric motoring is tempting for business drivers as there is no BIK on electricity if the car is charged in the workplace, 0% BIK an up to 75% discount on toll roads among several other incentives.
The Kona electric is relaxing to drive with silence from the electric motor and relaxed ride quality. It is well-suited to smooth and low speed urban driving, and very easy to park with great all-round cabin visibility and a standard reversing camera and parking sensors. On twisty roads, the Kona Electric copes well but it shows its weight when driven with pace (over 1.7 tonnes) and tends to run wide in corners when pushed. Power delivery is instantaneous in sport mode and the wheels tend to scramble for traction with so much torque going to the wheels. This means it doesn’t deliver the same driving engagement as other compact crossovers such as the SEAT Arona, but most buyers won’t mind this fact as it covers the bases well.
Prices and features:
Prices for the new Hyundai Kona 64kWh start from €38,130, including VRT exemption of €5,000 and the SEAI grant for electric vehicles of €5,000. It is significantly more expensive than the Nissan LEAF 40kWh which starts at €28,960 including grants. That said, it is very well equipped as standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, electric and heated door mirrors, roof rails, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, automatic air conditioning and a reversing camera. The Kona Electric scores well in terms of safety too with a speed limiter and cruise control, airbags all-round, hill start assist, and lane keep assist with driver fatigue warning.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The Hyundai Kona Electric is a tempting proposition for those who are considering making the switch to electric motoring. With well over 400 kilometres of real-world range available from a single charge, range anxiety isn’t a problem and it’s possible to get anywhere in Ireland without having to stop and charge along the way. It’s also well-equipped, comfortable on long drives and surprisingly fast in a straight line. That said, the Kona Electric’s rear seats are better suited to children, and it’s considerably more expensive to buy than rivals like the Nissan Leaf. If you can look past this, the Kona Electric makes for an impressive package and it should prove highly popular with Irish motorists transitioning to electric car ownership.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Hyundai Kona Electric
Prices from: €38,130
Annual Motor Tax: €120
0-100km/h: 7.6 seconds
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 334 litres