kona
kona

Range warning — Hyundai Kona Electric

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What is it?

Like fingernails running down a blackboard, the unbearable prices of electric vehicles tend to leave most potential buyers shying away.

Roll on a few years from now and, automotive industry sources say EV production costs will be in line with those of fossil-fuelled vehicles.

In the meantime, there are manufacturers bringing prices down by limiting battery range.

Hyundai is one such example with its pricey Kona small electric SUV taking a kilometre and dollar haircut.

August saw the release of the Standard Range model that delivers around 305km compared with 500km from the Extended Range.

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What’s it cost?

Available in Elite and Highlander specification, prices differ by $6000 – $60,500 to $54,500 (Elite) and $64,000 to $58,000 (Highlander).

No poverty pack here, Hyundai says all share the same technology, safety and convenience features, with Extended Range models taking price drops of $1500 (Elite) and $2000 (Highlander).

The Kona Electric Highlander leather-appointed cabin features heated front and outboard rear heated seats, the powered driver and front passenger positions also being ventilated.

Shoulder space in the back is adequate but legroom is extremely limited by the floor height, increased over conventional powered Konas to make room for battery storage.

If things up the back are tight, there is room up front for Hyundai’s hallmark ‘flying’ centre console, with wireless charging bay, which is good news for the driver and front seat passenger.

A rear console USB point allows back-seat occupants to ‘fuel up’ mobile devices.

Ambient lighting in the footwell gives a cosy glow to the surroundings, while a head-up windscreen display delivers a range of information without unnecessary distraction to the driver.

A 10.25-inch colour LCD dash cluster features full digital display with user-chooser sections linkable with the selected Drive Mode.

Also projected are trip computer info, system status and visual alerts.

Harman Kardon premium audio includes eight speakers and an external amplifier, offering exceptional sound reproduction via optimum tuning.

The 2021 Konas have cracked on to upgrades to the standard Hyundai SmartSense safety system of the outgoing model.

These include lane following assist, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic avoidance assist, safe exit warning and rear occupant alert.

Boot space is 332 litres.

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What’s it go like?

Twenty-five millimetres longer than the Kona it replaces, the 2021 EV has been given a series of design changes.

These include a new front, with a shuttered grille and new daytime running lights that are aimed at emphasising the car’s width.

An asymmetrical flap on the charging port adds a focus on the left, while new LED headlights, with multi-faceted reflector technology, wrap around the sides, connecting to the wheel arch cladding.

The latter adds to the Kona’s aerodynamics by reducing turbulence in the wheelhouse area.

An air intake in the lower bumper incorporates satin bars.

Out back, the look has been refreshed with a new bumper and widened rear lights.

The makeover is signed off by new machined-face 17-inch alloy wheels.

Powertrains vary from 100kW (39.2 kWh) to 150kW (64 kWh) respectively.

The 150kW/395 Nm motor powers the front wheels which are fitted with low rolling resistance tyres on 17-inch alloys.

There is a single-speed speed reduction gear automatic.

The Kona Electric hums happily off the mark at the instant the power pedal is prodded.

Little fazes the power plant from then on up to cruising speed.

Braking is positive and the forward motion of the vehicle is converted to money-saving battery top-ups.

Three levels of regenerative braking are available through the car’s paddle-shift system.

Energy consumption, hence available range, is officially put at a combined 14.7kWh per 100 kilometres, which would allow for 484km to ’empty’.

The previous best was 449km.

On test the Kona came up with 13.5kWh.

Kona’s lithium-ion battery on DC charging can power up at a maximum rate of 100kW with a 10 to 80 per cent charge time of 47 minutes.

On 50kW charging this will take around 64 minutes.

On home AC charging, the Kona’s maximum rate is 7.2kW, charging from 10 to 100 per cent in nine hours.

Kona Electric now features remote starting via the smart key fob.

With the handbrake on and vehicle locked, the user can remotely start the vehicle by pressing the lock button, followed by pressing and holding the engine start button.

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What we like?

  • Responsive
  • Upgraded safety
  • Wireless charging bay
  • Ambient lighting in the footwell gives a cosy glow
  • Harman Kardon audio offers exceptional sound reproduction

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What we don’t like?

  • Still too expensive
  • Rear legroom is extremely limited by the floor height

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The bottom line?

While not the cheapest fully electric vehicle around (see Nissan Leaf), neither is Kona the most expensive.

That is the territory of luxury cars such as those from Tesla, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Hyundai is ploughing the small SUV furrow with the Kona Electric, which goes a long way – almost 500 kilometres – to matching the big boys.

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Hyundai Kona EV Highlander Extended Range, priced from $64,000
  • Looks - 7/10
    7/10
  • Performance - 7/10
    7/10
  • Safety - 6/10
    6/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
    8/10
  • Practicality - 5/10
    5/10
  • Comfort - 6/10
    6/10
  • Tech - 7/10
    7/10
  • Value - 6/10
    6/10
Overall
6.5/10
6.5/10

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