In-depth reviews

Hyundai Kona Electric review

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

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Up to 300-mile range
  • Fashionable crossover styling
  • Well equipped for the asking price

Cons

  • Interior a bit bland
  • Some rivals more spacious
  • Weight saps driving enjoyment
ModelOfficial rangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Kona 39kWh189 miles6hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)48mins (10-80%, 50kW)
Kona 64kWh300 miles9hrs 15mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)47mins (10-80%, 100kW)

A compact SUV launched in 2018, Hyundai's Kona has been offered with petrol, diesel and hybrid power during its time on sale, but this fully electric version is possibly the most impressive of the bunch. While the combustion-engined variants are little more than midfield runners in their class, the zero-emissions Kona is one of best electric family cars you can buy – and even more so after its 2021 update and styling refresh.

When it appeared, the Kona Electric – along with its Kia e-Niro cousin – really took the fight to established electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, offering greater range and more practicality than had gone before.

That 2021 facelift we mentioned left the battery and electric motors were left unchanged; there are still two versions depending on how much range and power you want. The entry-level car has a 39kWh battery and 134bhp electric motor, while the range-topper features a 64kWh battery and 201bhp motor. The latter is vastly more popular, but the 39kWh version's lower price may appeal to some who primarily want a car for shorter local journeys – especially now that the UK government's plug-in car grant has been reduced.

The downside of a large 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 model 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 from one of these, charging time comes down to a little over 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 less than an hour. Maximum range stands at between 189 and 300 miles depending on which battery you opt for.

So which spec should you go for? Even the entry-level SE is well equipped, with 17-inch alloys, roof rails, adaptive cruise control, electric windows and a 10.25-inch touchscreen with sat nav and smartphone connectivity, as well as a comprehensive safety package. Premium trim adds luxuries like a heated seats, wireless phone charging and LED headlights, while Ultimate tops the range with a head-up display, plus ventilated front seats and a sunroof.

On the road, the Kona Electric feels similar to its 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. The 64kWh version will do 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds, but never feels like a hot hatchback; top speed is 104mph. The ride is comfortable, though, which adds to the relaxing feel.

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 Hyundai 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 Kona Electric, have a look at how we got on running one for six months – or read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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