Hyundai Kona Electric driving
The first thing that struck us when we sat in the driver seat of the new Kona is the extra space and slightly higher driving position, it makes the cabin a relaxing - and more comfortable - place to be. We have now driven both the Standard and Long Range models. The cheaper version has a 154bhp motor and 48.4kWh battery. The official WLTP range in this is 235 miles, almost the same as the entry level model Volvo EX30. The Long Range version with 214bhp and a 65.4kWh battery boosts the range up to a claimed official figure of 321 miles, once again topping the Long Range version of the EX30 and also the Kia Niro EV.
It's no surprise that even the Standard Range model feels quick off the mark and comes into its own around town where it feels peppy, soaking up lumps and bumps in the road well. Steering is light, making this a brilliant car to drive around town. It's larger than the average city car, but we think it feels at home in this environment and would make a brilliant family runaround. Power on the Standard Range model drops off when you’re at speed on the motorway though, it still feels punchy enough, but doesn’t have the same level of performance you get at lower speeds.
The Long Range has more power, but the electronics do a much better job of keeping it all under control than in the last model. Pull away from a junction in the old car and it would scrabble for grip, but the computers now keep it all under control.
The steering feels slightly stiff and artificial on the faster model though, and a fair degree of body roll mean its not a car which you'd drive for fun.
We'd also suggest you get the salesman to show you how to turn off all of the 'safety assist' systems. There is the usual selection of bings and bongs which are part of any car which is aiming for a top score in the NCAP assessment and can provide a genuine benefit by preventing accidents. However they aren't accurate enough in finding speed limits which means you're likely to find them irritating. There is also a steering assist function which gives an odd feeling through the wheel and is operative even with using the cruise control. We've not encountered that before.
But what did impress us is how quiet and refined the drive remained at speed. Of course, all electric cars are quiet, but some have more refinement than others and the new Kona excels at this, helping to make the driving experience even more relaxing. We like the way the gear selector has now been moved behind the steering wheel, freeing up more space in the centre of the cabin.
The paddle operated regenerative braking - also controlled from the steering wheel - offers the option of true one pedal driving. The Kona comes with a feature called I-PEDAL, which enables a driving mode that helps you to accelerate, decelerate and stop using the accelerator pedal. It works along a smart regenerative braking system that automatically adjusts the levels of braking based on the information from the flow of traffic. In another first a head-up display has all the info you need - including navigation directions - right in the driver's eye line.
Hyundai Kona Electric interior and practicality
The Kona car is only 150mm longer than the previous car, but because the range has now been designed first and foremost as an electric car, it feels far more spacious inside than that modest increase would suggest.
In the back you’ll find a nice flat floor and spacious bench seat with good headroom and improved legroom, mainly thanks to the extra length, but also because the front seats have been slimmed down by a third. You don’t notice that when you’re sitting in them, as they’re very comfortable but you benefit from the reduced profile from the back seat. The door openings are noticeably bigger than some rivals, making it easy to get in and load baby seats.
From the driver's seat you can't help buy notice the twin 12.3-inch displays - reflecting the screens found in the larger, more expensive cars in Hyundai’s range - which are fitted across the range with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They look slick and modern, we found the system intuitive to use, and think that it helps to give the interior a premium feel that you wouldn’t normally get with a car in this class.
We also like the way the driver controls, including the gear selector, are now focused around the steering wheel, just where the driver needs them to be. This leaves space for physical buttons which operate the infotainment system and climate control. We’re big fans of physical buttons for some functions, as it means you don’t need to fiddle around in a touch screen menu whilst you’re driving when you want to change the cabin temperature or the radio station. Also well positioned on the steering wheel are paddles to adjust the regenerative braking.
Reflecting how much thought has gone into this new interior the design team have dropped in some cool details throughout the cabin, like the morse code spelling out the letter ‘H’ in the centre of the steering wheel, replacing the traditional Hyundai badge. But practicality hasn’t been glossed over in favour of gimmicks; the comfortable seat can be altered to fit drivers small or large and there are plenty of storage areas - from the spacious centre console with a lift out compartment, to pop out cup holders, a small shelf above a good-sized glove box and door bins that will easily hold a large bottle of water. There’s also a wireless charging pad, cleverly tilted so your phone won’t fall out, along with plenty of charging ports, essential for any family car.
The quality in the places you'll commonly touch is fine, but there are a few disappointing areas of shiny hard plastic and sharp-edged mouldings.
The Standard Range model will only be offered in the UK in entry-level Advance trim, which comes with 17in wheels and impressive levels of standard technology including an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, driving attention warning, lane keeping tech and forward collision avoidance assist. The Long Range model comes in N Line and N Line S trims, with 19in wheels and bespoke styling elements. There’s also a range-topping Ultimate trim, priced from £43,095 which also has 19in wheels along with leather upholstery, a sunroof, Bose stereo and extra driver assistance systems.
In keeping with the Kona’s ambitions of being a family car, you find power points in the back, along with a very useful 3-pin socket. The rear door cubbies are a little on the small size, but you do get storage nets on the back of the front seats.
Round at the back and the boot is also bigger, 466 litres with the seats up, 1,300 litres when they’re down making it far larger than the space on offer in the Volvo EX30 and the Peugeot e2008. It’s a more usable shape than the current model and comes with a clever feature that allows you to store the parcel shelf up against the back seats when you need to take it out. It’s a small thing, but again we think this is another smart idea that reflects the care and attention given to its design. Up front there’s also a small frunk, ideal for storing your charging cables and in a handy position given that the charging port – which is now illuminated and heated – is also at the front of the car.
Hyundai Kona Electric 2023 technology
The Kona is set to come with an in-built dashcam and options you’d normally associate with larger cars, like full surround-view cameras, a digital rear view mirror and that brilliant Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) function that supports both internal and external charging of electrical devices and home appliances. It will also receive over-the-air updates so the latest software update will be made straight to your car in the same way as your phone or laptop, allowing owners to save on cost by avoiding trips to service centres.
Hyundai Kona Electric 2023 range, battery and charging
There are two models from launch, Long Range with a 65.4 kWh battery and 160 kW motors giving a claimed official WLTP range of 321 miles, along with a Standard Range 48.4 kWh model with a 114 kW motor with a claimed range of 235 miles.
The all-new model has received a charging boost and now comes with an increased DC fast charging capability of 102.3kW, while AC charging tops out at 11kW. It's an improvement on the previous model but can’t match the 153kW maximum charging rate of the Volvo EX30.
Hyundai says that you’ll be able to add 70 miles of range into the smaller battery car in 15 mins, while the 65.4kWh battery will add 86 miles in the same time. Efficiency has always been a strong point for the Kona and all models in the range come with a heat pump fitted as standard, so we shouldn’t see the numbers fall off too far in winter on this new model, while advanced aerodynamics and battery temperature management will also add to its efficiency.
Hyundai Kona Electric 2023 verdict
Overall, it feels like the Kona has had a major upgrade, in terms of space, style, quality and in particular, the interior which has taken a huge leap forward. As with all Hyundai’s, the Kona comes with a five year warranty, something only the Kia Niro electric and MG’s range can beat. Having now had the opportunity to get behind the wheel we think this now offers a great all round package which has impressed us.
How does it stack up against the competition? We’ll putting its through its paces against rivals like the Volvo EX30, Kia Niro EV and Peugeot 2008 when we get cars in the UK so why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and you’ll get a notification when our first drive video arrives – or you can subscribe to our newsletter to get updates about all the latest electric car news.