Boasting an official Tesla-teasing electric range of 300mls, reports Iain Robertson, the all-electric version of the chunky little Kona hatchback just sneaks under the lower government grant threshold with a price tag of £34,995 (£230 reduction, inc. PiCG) in 64kWh Premium form.
Look, I make no bones about it, all of the car companies involved in the EV movement have been profiteering from it. Ask yourself a question: how can any of them, when confronted by the recent reduction in the grant structure from £3,500 to £2,500 per car and the lowered invoice value threshold of £35,000 (down from £50k) for eligibility, race suddenly towards those levels, barely stopping for breath on the way? Right! You get it.
Needless to say, all of the players are keen to make as much marketing mileage (sic.) from the exercise as they can, almost as if they elect to ignore the fact that the UK motorist is being slam-dunked into adopting electrification, whether liking the prospect or not. To be frank, a little bit of honesty, such as that demonstrated recently, when I tested the latest Mazda MX-30 EV, would not go amiss but, instead, you have so-called ‘PR professionals’ from the likes of Volkswagen and even the subject of this test piece, Hyundai, hollering hollow praise on social media about their ‘conquest’ of a new-ish market segment. Bloody idiots!
At least Mazda had the humility to concede that its EV, with its admittedly low range of around 125mls, would make an ideal proposition for a two-car family, with a moderately frugal petrol/diesel model for longer trips and the MX-30 being retained for city hops and commuting. As all of the car companies are being forced into an acceptance of an EV future, I feel strongly that Mazda’s version of the real scenario is much closer to what many of them are thinking and it is neither blind, nor myopic.
Up to now, if you have wanted to avoid range anxiety, which the EVangelist brigade states categorically is NOT a precursor, even though 99% of potential EV up-takers still insist that it is, your funds would have to be directed at a Tesla. The problem is, a Model S costs around £100,000 and even the cheaper and smaller Model3 leaves very little change from £70,000. Both of them can reach the 300mls margin even though it is one ‘helluvan’ up-front price to pay for the privilege. When I tested the Jaguar i-Pace, it was under a misapprehension that I might be able to eke out a 300mls range from what some protagonists (like Autocar Magazine; for heaven’s sake; we are expected to trust these people?) had suggested was ‘the only Tesla rival’ on the block. Well, they were wrong; 240mls was the best I attained and the car was nowhere near as rapid as a Tesla!
However, Hyundai has achieved the nirvana using present day battery technology for the punchier, 64kWh version of its Kona EV. Opt for the just less than £5k cheaper 39.2kWh battery pack and the range plummets to a stated 189mls. Putting their potency into perspective, these figures are the equivalent of 201bhp and 133bhp respectively, by which the ‘64’ banishes the 0-60mph sprint in around 6.5s, speedy enough for most on-road encounters. However, the recharging story is somewhat different. Naturally, Hyundai makes play of the word ‘from’, a term that I suggest any consumer ought to dig into deeper, prior to making any commitment.
The ’39.2’ version can be fully charged using the standard 7-pin Type 2 connector and a proprietary fast-charger 7.2kW wallbox in around SIX hours; a 10-80% recharge can be attained on a 100kW publicly accessible charger in around 47mins, which is slightly longer than many of its main rivals, which manage the task in around 30mins. However, the ‘64’ timings are NINE HOURS and 15mins domestically and 64mins respectively, a factor that makes journey planning an even more crucial decision and is a downside of choosing the bigger battery. By the way, do not even ask about regular three-pin charging, which might demand extra hotel costs.
Driving the Kona EV (64) as quickly and legally as it can be conducted on HM highways drops its range to around 255mls. Yet, cut the speed from 70 to 55mph and you can add 70mls to the car’s range expectation. On the other hand, exercise the brake energy regeneration facility and the Kona’s urban range can be eked out to a figure in excess of 350mls, which could be the equivalent of a week’s worth of regular motoring, without a need to plug it in. These are respectable and repeatable figures that might turn a chap’s head…mine in particular.
However, if electric frugality is the only demand that you might have of your Hyundai Kona, you would be assuredly happy. Living with the car is a more compromising requirement. For a start, its interior accoutrements, such as trim quality, even though the actual specification is moderately generous, are lacking somewhat. Readily marked plastics are among its least desirable qualities and, even thinking of them as recycled and an inevitable element of a greener driving aim, they barely meet Korean standards of 30 years ago, but that’s not all…
Another of the demerits is the shocking and unsettling ride control and quality of the EV-platformed Kona. While some of it lies with the eco-tyres that come as part of the package, as they offer reduced bump resilience and sidewall compliance, the spring and damper rates create a harsh ride that makes longer drives uncomfortable and tiring. The steering is quick enough at 2.5-turns from lock-to-lock, even though the turning circle is only an average 10.5m. The brakes have a tendency to feel a little ‘dead’. Kona is also cramped internally. Considering its price point, I expect more than Hyundai is prepared clearly to give.
Conclusion: As long as range is not an issue, an entry-level Kona electric will set you back £30,125 (including the grant) but there is a pricier Ultimate version that tips the scales at £40,375, albeit without a grant available, which is perfectly fine, as I do not believe that such incentives should be allowed in the first place!