Hyundai Kona Electric review

The Kona Electric boasts fashionable looks, reasonable pricing and – crucially – a range that meets or beats that offered by many rivals

£38,600 - £40,950
£35,100 - £37,450
Electric

Pros

  • 279-mile range
  • Fashionable crossover styling
  • Well equipped for the asking price

Cons

  • No choice of battery sizes any more
  • Weight saps driving enjoyment
  • Some rivals more spacious
Car type Official range Wallbox charge time Fast charge time
Electric 279 miles 10hrs 15mins (7.4kW, 0-100%) 1hr 10mins (50kW, 10-80%)

The Hyundai Kona Electric isn’t the first electric SUV; that accolade fell to its Korean stablemate the Kia Soul EV. It’s a much more exciting proposition than the Kia, though, and one that really takes the fight to established electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf, not to mention the Kia e-Niro, which shares the Kona's platform, battery technology and impressive range.

The regular Kona is part of the burgeoning compact SUV class, which means it adopts something of the style of a chunky off-roader while offering the easy-driving practicality of a small family hatchback. In truth, against a roster of rivals that includes the Citroen C3 Aircross, SEAT Arona, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur, a petrol Kona isn’t a very inspiring choice.

There were previously two versions of the Kona Electric depending on how much range and power you wanted, but the 2020 model year car is only offered with a 64kWh battery and 201bhp electric motor. That means it's not quite as good value as before, as there's no cheaper, shorter-range version.

The downside of a big battery is long charging times. If you use the basic domestic charging cable supplied with the Kona Electric plugged into a standard three-pin socket in your house or garage, the 64kWh battery will take more than 30 hours to fill completely, which is why Hyundai expects most owners to install a faster wallbox charger at home.

With a 7.4kW supply, the charging time comes down to a bit more than 10 hours. If you want to drive longer distances, you’ll likely be using rapid-charging stations at motorway services, and these can give the Kona Electric an 80% top-up in just over an hour.

So which spec should you go for? All trim levels are well equipped, with 17-inch alloys, roof rails, adaptive cruise control, electric windows and a seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, as well as a comprehensive safety package, sat nav and wireless phone charging.

The Premium SE adds luxuries like a head-up display to project vehicle and route info on the windscreen in front of the driver, as well as LED headlamps and leather seat facings.

On the road, the Kona Electric feels similar to its internal-combustion-engined siblings, which means it’s not much fun to drive, but never less than competent. The electric version is more relaxing as it’s so quiet, and you don’t have the hassle of changing gear, but the considerable extra weight makes itself felt on twisty roads and when you’re accelerating.

It's said to cover 0-62mph in just 7.6 seconds, but it never feels like a hot hatch, and top speed is 104mph. The ride is comfortable though, which helps add to the relaxing feel of the car.

From a practicality perspective, the Kona isn’t as spacious or well thought-out as some of its rivals (notably the e-Niro) and the boot may feel pretty small to some users – or indeed anyone who looks in the back of a SEAT Arona. But the Kona is just about big enough to manage a family of four, and it has a good safety package too.

For a more detailed look at the Hyundai Kona Electric, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.