Hyundai Kona Electric review
The Hyundai Kona Electric has a good range, a raised driving position and lots of equipment, but there are more spacious EV alternatives.
What's not so good
Find out more about the Hyundai Kona Electric
The Hyundai Kona Electric is an EV for those who are a bit nervous about joining the electric revolution, because it offers the traditional SUV benefits of a practical interior and high driving position plus all the battery-powered benefits.
It’s a bit like those fancy woollen Allbirds shoes, which are rugged and waterproof but also environmentally friendly.
OK, so it costs more than the Hyundai Konas that come with more conventional petrol and diesel engines, but it’s in the same ballpark as other electric vehicles (EVs) such as the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen ID.3.
The Hyundai Kona Electric range is relatively simple with just the two versions on offer – a 39kWh model with 136hp and a 189-mile range, and s a 64kWh model with 204hp and up to 279 miles of range. You’re able to charge the 64kWh Kona Electric to 80% in just 47 minutes using a 100kW charger.
More common is the 7kW charger, which is what you would most likely end up with if you got a wall charger installed at home. At this rate of charge the wait is far longer: the 64kWh car takes just over nine hours to recharge to full. This won’t be an issue if you plan to plug it in before you go to bed, like your mobile phone.
Still, a full ‘tank’ on the 64kWh Kona will cost you around £9, some £20 cheaper than fuelling a petrol car to cover the same distance, so you’ll be rewarded for your patience.
You get a different, raised central console to the one you’ll find in a ‘regular’ Kona, and it looks and feels more premium. Its standard infotainment system is easy to use and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring – so you can seamlessly use the sat-nav and music apps on your smartphone on the Kona’s screen.
While the petrol and diesel Konas don’t stand out amongst small SUVs, the pure electric Kona manages to catch the eye – it offers something unique, and does it well.
Space inside the Hyundai Kona Electric is a mixed bag. You should be fine in the front seats – you’ll get lots of seat adjustment while the steering wheel has a wide range of movement too. Space around the seats in the front is impressive too.
However, adults in the back seats then they won’t be so comfortable and a Leaf will be comfier for those the back seats if that’s important to you.
The regular Kona’s boot is pretty disappointing and it isn’t any better on the electric version – the Kia Niro’s boot is much bigger. At least 60:40 split-folding rear seats still feature as standard to open up the space to 1,114 litres should you need a run to the rubbish dump.
Like all EVs, the Hyundai Kona Electric is great to drive in town. Performance is punchy, instant and silent, which means darting through traffic is easily done. However, a Nissan Leaf feels even more fun, while a Volkswagen ID.3 is more comfortable.
Still, the Kona offers chunky SUV styling and a decent range, so is capable of doing the job of a couple of cars in one. If that sounds good to you, make sure you check out our Hyundai Kona Electric deals for the very best prices.
What happens when you drive a Kona Electric until it runs completely out of charge? Check out our EV range test video
The Kona Electric will be plenty of car for two adults but for families there are more spacious and practical EVs available for similar money.
Space in the Hyundai Kona Electric isn’t universally great. It is spacious for those up front, with plenty of room around the seats, lots of adjustment for both driver and passenger and a steering wheel with a wide range of movement so you should be able to get comfy no matter how tall or short you are.
However, if you’re planning on carrying a pair of adults in the back on a regular basis then the Kona Electric isn’t the best option out there. The SUV shape might mean that headroom is good but legroom isn’t as generous. In short, you’d be better off with either a Nissan Leaf.
The Kona Electric has enough interior storage to keep the cabin tidy even if you have two children and the vast array of accessories that come with them.
The glovebox is large enough to swallow a 1.5-litre bottle of water and there’s space for a can of juice underneath the front centre armrest, although it is a shame that the lids on both feel flimsy.
On the centre console you get a tray for your smartphone – complete with a USB and Aux connection (and wireless charging on Premium models and above) – and you also get a couple of cupholders .
Add to that large front door pockets, slightly smaller rear ones, a sunglasses holder in the roof and a clip on the back of the sun visors for parking tickets, and the Hyundai’s interior storage is unlikely to leave you feeling hard done by.
The batteries underneath the Kona Electric eat into the boot space a bit, resulting in a drop of 29 litres in capacity when the rear seats are in place compared to a regular Kona. Then you factor in the fact that the Kona isn’t the best in class anyway with a disappointing 361 litres of space, meaning you only get 332 litres when you go for an Electric model. At least 60:40 split-folding rear seats still feature as standard to open up the space should you need a run to the rubbish dump.
The Kona Electric is great to drive, being punchy in town and comfy and quiet on the motorway. It has a very commendable range for its size, too.
Picking which Kona Electric to go for is relatively simple with just the two versions on offer – a 39kWh model with 136hp and 189 miles of range, and a 64kWh version with 204hp and up to 279 miles of range. Then there are three trim levels – SE, Premium and Premium SE. All Hyundai Kona Electric models benefit from the Government’s EV grant.
You’re able to charge a Hyundai Kona Electric to 80% in just 47 minutes using a 100kW charger. More common is the 7kW charger, and that is the one you’ll probably get if you have a wall box installed at.
At this rate of charge the 64kWh car takes just over nine hours – plug it in when you do your teeth at night and you should be fine.
Still, a full ‘tank’ on the Kona will cost you around £9, some £20 cheaper than refueling a petrol car to cover the same distance, so the wait is worthwhile.
Like all EVs, the Hyundai Kona Electric is great to drive in town. Performance is punchy, instant and silent, which means darting through traffic is easily done. In fact, the 64kWh car races to 62mph in a warm hatch-bothering 7.6 seconds. That’s quicker than both a Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf, albeit slower than a BMW i3.
While the Nissan Leaf has its E-Pedal – where the car starts to slow itself gently when you take your foot off the accelerator pedal and in doing so recharges the batteries – the Hyundai Kona Electric has a similar feature but you have to press a button on the steering wheel and it takes a little time getting used to.
In other respects the Hyundai Kona Electric is good rather than great: its steering is nicely weighted, it handles tidily, deals with all but the worst broken roads and keeps most wind and road noise outside at speed. However, a Nissan Leaf feels even more agile, while a Volkswagen ID.3 rides even more comfortably along battered roads, meaning the Kona Electric is by no means the best-driving EV for the money.
There’s no mistaking the Kona Electric for a regular Kona inside, but there are better infotainment systems on offer in other EVs of a similar price.
Hyundai Kona Electric colours
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.