Review: Hyundai Kona Electric (2019)

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Electric version of Hyundai Kona. Two models available: 39KWh with a range of 180 miles and a 64KWh version with a 279-mile range. High specification and good value for money.

Not the most spacious crossover.

Hyundai Kona Electric (2019): At A Glance

It's surprising how much swapping a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor can transform a car. While the standard Hyundai Kona is a below-par rival to the SEAT Arona and Nissan Juke, the Kona Electric is one of the most desirable electric cars on the market. So much so, Hyundai announced it'd only take orders online - and even then, it sold out.

There are two models available. It's the pricier 64kWh model that grabs the headlines with its impressive 279-mile range, but the more affordable 39kWh version can cover 180 miles - enough for most drivers.

Batteries located under the floor mean there's a reasonable amount of room inside - although, as per the standard car, the rear seats are a bit short of legroom, leaving adults sitting awkwardly with their knees above their waist.

The cabin looks pleasingly modern compared to the standard car, with buttons on the centre console to make the car go forward or backwards. Search for hard plastics and you'll find them, but it's not as offensive as a relatively affordable electric car could be.

The highlight of the Kona Electric is how it drives around town. The 64kWh model in particular is surprisingly quick off the line, accelerating forwards with little noise but the scrabble of the tyres as they struggle to find grip. Even those used to the instant torque of electric cars might be surprised by just how eager the 64kWh Kona is to accelerate.

It's a heavy car and it can't hide that entirely in the bends, but a low centre of gravity means it remains relatively composed.

By offering Tesla-rivalling electric range in a desirable crossover package for an affordable price, Hyundai has already proven it's onto a winner with the Kona Electric. It has its flaws - a small boot, for example - but it's still a massively appealing electric car.

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What does a Hyundai Kona Electric (2019) cost?

List Price from £18,210
Buy new from £14,998
Contract hire from £180.80 per month

Hyundai Kona Electric (2019): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4180 mm
Width 2070 mm
Height 1570 mm
Wheelbase 2600 mm

Full specifications

The Kona Electric is the most expensive Kona you can buy, and you can tell that Hyundai's tried to give it a premium feel inside. It's got a unique, raised centre console, finished in silver with buttons to make the Kona Electric move instead of a conventional automatic gear shifter.

The lack of a conventional transmission means there's also extra room underneath the centre console, providing considerably more storage inside the Kona Electric than the regular Kona.

This is still, of course, an affordable electric car, so it doesn't feel quite as premium as the likes of the BMW i3. Standard SE models get a seven-inch media display, which is fine - and provides access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, giving you the ability to access certain functions from your phone on the move.

It's worth upgrading to the Premium or Premium SE model for the eight-inch display, which is simple to use with clear graphics as well as access to live features such as real-time traffic information and speed camera alerts.

In terms of space, the Kona Electric isn't quite as spacious as you might expect. It's fine up front, with lots of adjustment in the driver's seat and steering wheel meaning you'll soon find a comfortable seating position. Adults won't be quite so happy in the rear, however. Headroom is reasonable, but it's pretty tight in terms of legroom.

The boot is pretty small, too - the batteries eating into an already quite small luggage area. By the time you've loaded the charging cables, you're left with 332 litres of space - less than in a Hyundai Ioniq Electric or Volkswagen e-Golf.

Fortunately, the rear seat splits 60:40 and fold easily, but access isn't great - with a high lip over the rear bumper.

Standard specification (from launch):

The Kona Electric SE features a seven-inch audio display including DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear parking sensors with rear view camera, Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls and a leather steering wheel. Automatic lights, climate control, driver’s side electric lumbar support and keyless entry with start/stop button are amongst the key specification items.

KONA Electric Premium adds privacy glass, LED rear lamps, front parking sensors, auto dimming rear mirror and automatic windscreen wipers, eight-inch touchscreen display audio system with navigation, DAB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, combined with the KRELL audio system with eight speakers and wireless charging for compatible devices.

The range topping Kona Electric Premium SE 64kWh builds on the Premium trim with LED headlamps with High Beam Assist (HBA), static cornering lights and head up display. Additional features include leather seat facings, electrically adjustable and heated/ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

Child seats that fit a Hyundai Kona Electric (2019)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Hyundai Kona Electric (2019) like to drive?

Instant acceleration means the Kona Electric's at its best when darting in and out of traffic around town. Even the standard 39kWh model can cover 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds, while the higher-powered Kona Electric covers it in 7.6 seconds.

That's quicker than the likes of the Volkswagen e-Golf, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and even some versions of the BMW i3, but at low speeds it feels even sprightlier than its figures suggests. With all that power going through the front wheels, hit the accelerater hard and the wheels will squeal before propelling you forward with amusing urgency. Such antics aren't great for range, of course, but it's much more fun to drive than any petrol or diesel Kona.

You can adjust the amount of regeneration using shifters behind the steering wheel, meaning it can decelerate as you lift off the accelerator without touching the brakes. To an extent, you can resort to one-pedal driving around town - a cool feature of many electric cars.

The Kona Electric's haste does fade off as you approach motorway speeds, while it's difficult to hide its weight on twisty roads. It's a competent handler but - despite its low centre of gravity - it doesn't remain as composed during spirited driving as the Ioniq Electric.

It's a relaxing car to drive, though, without the usual noise from a combustion engine. There's a little wind noise on the motorway, but this is only noticeable because there isn't an engine to drown it out. Turning up the radio fixes that.

If you're concerned that pedestrians or cyclists might not hear you approaching at low speed, Hyundai does provide an audible hum. It's quite distinctive and seems to work well, in our experience.

A fast charger (such as those at motorway services) can charge the Kona's battery up to 80 per cent in around an hour, while a home Wallbox will charge it in around 9 hours 40 minutes (for the 64kWh Kona) or 6 hours 10 minutes for the 39kWh model. You can also charge it using a three-pin socket if required, but this'll take more than 30 hours to top up the higher-powered Kona Electric.

Charging it is easy, with the charging port located in the front of the vehicle next to the Hyundai badge. It's worth noting that the official ranges of 180 miles and 279 miles for the 39kWh and 64kWh models respectively are under new WLTP tests, so these figures should be fairly achievable in the real world.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
Electric 39kWh - 9.7 s -
Electric 64kWh - 7.9 s -

What have we been asked about the Hyundai Kona Electric (2019)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

I want to sell my old car for a new electric vehicle. Is there a scrappage scheme for this?

I have a 12-year-old BMW that is getting expensive to keep on the road. I want to get an electric car. It needs to be one that can handle the bumpy lane I live on (full of potholes). Is there a scrappage scheme I can use for my old car? I occasionally drive 150 miles in one go but mostly do short distances.
The Kia Soul EV, Kia e-Niro or Hyundai Kona Electric all sound like good options. They all have generous ranges, represent good value for money and should be able to handle your bumpy lane fairly well. You could also consider the MG ZS EV - it's an electric car bargain, but its official 163-mile range means you'll probably have to stop to charge on longer journeys. Unfortunately, due to demand, electric cars aren't usually available on scrappage schemes. I'd recommend selling your BMW privately to get the most for it.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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