Gareth Butterfield plugs in for a ride in Hyundai’s all-electric Kona
WHETHER you like it or not, the electric car is here to stay. Very few of the mainstream manufacturers are ignoring the fact they’re selling well and there’s now an increasingly strong choice of fully-electric models on offer.
Hyundai now has two models in its electric fleet, the bespoke Ioniq and a special version of its popular crossover, the Kona.
Firstly, let’s talk about the Kona Electric’s range. That is, after all, the reason a lot of people shy away from electric cars. However, it just happens to be one of the Kona’s big strengths. According to the new benchmark testers, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) the Kona will do more than 300 miles. I had one for a week and I came fairly close to that before bottling it and putting it on charge, so it’s more believable than you might think.
It charges on a normal home setup in nine and-a-half hours and a fast charger would top it up to around 80% in less than an hour. So it’s actually quite useable.
It’s also priced pretty well. Including the Government’s electric vehicle grant, you could have a Kona Electric on your driveway for around £35,000. That, incidentally, is more than the Nissan Leaf, but a very similar price to the Kia E-Niro, which is certainly its strongest rival.
However the E-Niro’s looks are fairly conventional when parked alongside the Kona’s. The standard, fossil-fuel powered version, has a controversial exterior, but the Kona Electric, with its blanked-off grill and aerodynamic wheels will definitely divide opinion.
But if you can get past all that, there’s a very good car lurking within. For starters, its punchy electric motor and lack of any gears to bother with helps it sprint from 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds, which is sports car territory, and although its battery pack piles on weight, the Kona’s sprightly road manners are watered down less than you might expect.
Inside you can opt to furnish your relatively conventional cabin with a head-up display, seven inch instrument cluster, eight inch LCD main screen with cameras, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a beefy audio system.
Heated and cooled leather and a heated steering wheel are also on the options list, along with LED headlamps and regenerative braking.
Safety kit is generous and can include smart cruise control and pedestrian detection and one of the best lane-keep assist systems I’ve used.
While the cockpit is comfortable and roomy, the rear seats are less spacious, but the boot is good with 334 litres to play with when the rear seats are in place.
It’s fair to say, there’s no reason why most people can’t carry out their normal daily commute in an electric car nowadays. The numbers might not work for everyone, especially considering the relatively high purchase price over a combustion-engined equivalent, but we’re reaching the point at which electric vehicles are becoming a serious option for many people.
And the Hyundai Kona is certainly one of the better ones. If you can live with its controversial looks, you’ll be rewarded with a decent range, great driving manners and generous spec. It’s certainly a strong contender.