New Hyundai Kona Electric eclipses Kia Niro with 305-mile range

The latest version of Hyundai’s small electric SUV gets a striking design and a more practical interior

New 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric

The new Hyundai Kona Electric will do 305 miles on a charge, according to its maker. Sharing its underpinnings with the new Kia Niro, the second iteration of the brand’s compact SUV will also be available in petrol and hybrid form, and debuts a revolutionary new design concept alongside a hi-tech interior, pinched from the more-expensive Ioniq 6 electric saloon.

The new Hyundai Kona’s exterior is a clear evolution of the outgoing model, with similarly slim LED daytime running lights, which this time merge to form a full-width front light bar. The main headlights sit below this, as does the charge port on Kona Electric models. The petrol and hybrid versions instead feature a slightly different lower grille arrangement; the sporty N Line trim gets a more aggressive look and bigger wheels. 

That front light bar is replicated at the rear, with the rest of the tail-lights housed separately – just as the headlights are on the nose of the car. Large lettering marks out the Kona nameplate, sitting beneath the recognisable Hyundai logo.

Inside, there’s a 12.3-inch central touchscreen, presumably with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, plus nav, media and trip information. The single panel also houses a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster – just as it does in the brand’s Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 models – with the system in the new Kona able to receive Over-the-Air (OTA) software updates from Hyundai, too. 

Hyundai says the cabin's ambient lighting “enhances the user experience”, while the steering wheel-mounted gear-shifter provides an “uncluttered layout” and frees up space on the centre console. We can also see the Kona has retained its physical climate controls, and features some physical buttons on the new three-spoke steering wheel as well.

The brand claims the “living space” is larger than before, saying the rear seats offer “maximum usability”. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 60mm, which should make the new Kona bigger in the back than before. Images show what looks like a completely flat floor in the rear, plus three rear belts meaning seating for five. Behind the second row is a “maximised cargo space” – again, hinting that the revised Kona will get a larger boot than its predecessor.

As mentioned, the new Hyundai Kona Electric will offer an electric range of up to 305 miles – around 20 miles more than the Kona’s sister car, the Kia Niro EV. Power comes from a 65.4kWh battery pack mated to a 215bhp front-mounted electric motor; performance figures are yet to be announced, but we can expect the plug-in Kona to match the Niro EV’s 7.8-second 0-62mph time.

It’s worth noting the Kona Electric’s 400-volt architecture means it won't be able to match the ultra-rapid charging speeds of the likes of the Ioniq 5; however, it's likely the Kona will get access to the same 77kW charging speeds as the Niro EV. We also understand that UK cars will get a heat pump as standard in order to help the Kona get closer to its maximum range in the colder months.

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Meanwhile, the new Kona Hybrid uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to an electric motor for a total output of 139bhp and 265 Nm of torque – the same as the latest Niro Hybrid. Fuel economy figures for the Hyundai haven't been released yet, but the Kia will do around 60mpg, with CO2 emissions of 107g/km.

The Kia Niro is also offered as a plug-in hybrid, but there is no suggestion a Hyundai Kona PHEV will join the range any time soon.

Pricing for the second-generation Hyundai Kona is still under wraps, but we expect both the petrol and hybrid models to start from less than £30,000 when they go on sale in late spring. The Kona Electric will arrive a few months later and is likely to cost around £38k, with top-spec versions commanding a premium. 

Hyundai’s boss for Europe, Micheal Cole, told us that he expects residuals for the new Kona to be stronger than before, meaning monthly finance payments for the new car shouldn’t change dramatically.

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