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Hyundai Kona Electric (2018-2023) review: performance, top speed & drive

The Hyundai Kona Electric is quick off the mark, but its handling is safe and sensible rather than thrilling

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Performance, motor & drive rating

4.0 out of 5

Model0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
39kWh9.7s96mphFront134bhp
64kWh7.6s104mphFront201bhp

The Hyundai Kona Electric is a safe, sensible and predictable car to drive. It feels instantly familiar, even if you've no previous experience with electric cars. A powerful motor in the 64kWh version means that version has what it takes to surprise a hot hatch at the traffic lights, too – although its considerable weight and comfort-focused handling mean it’s most at home pottering around town or cruising on the motorway.

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Even the less powerful 39kWh model feels pokey enough for most, thanks to all the power being instantly available when you put your foot down. Both motors produce the same 395Nm of torque.

Hyundai Kona Electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

A 201bhp electric motor helps the 64kWh version of the Kona from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds, but in spite of that relatively decent on-paper time, the acceleration doesn’t really add any sense of excitement to driving it, as its 1.7-tonne weight always makes itself felt. The 39kWh version is less powerful and so the 0-62mph sprint and top speed take a hit, to 9.7 seconds and 96mph respectively.

Paddles behind the steering wheel let you adjust the regenerative braking system, allowing you to gently slow the car to a stop while giving the battery a boost – without touching the brake pedal. Progress is pleasingly silent inside, unless you’re accelerating hard, when a faint whine from the motor is audible. In order to alert pedestrians and cyclists to your approach, a not-unpleasant harmonic hum (required by law) replaces the engine note of a traditional car at low speeds.

Handling

Once again, the Kona Electric’s weight is the defining characteristic here, and the chassis is definitely not set up to provide any fun behind the wheel. The steering is direct and neither too heavy or too light, but it doesn’t offer any tangible connection to the front wheels through your fingertips.

The handling is unremarkable, too, with a tendency for the nose to drift wide into understeer quite early if you’re trying to push the car into corners with any sort of commitment. On the plus side, the silent interior, well composed suspension and easy-driving nature of the Kona Electric make it a likeable companion for drivers who want a relaxing, comfortable drive.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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