Publication date: 28 July 2018
Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric

The ideal car?

Review - It has been said before: Hyundai owes its success to the fact that it listens to customer needs like no other. And right now, motorists want two things: they want an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) and they want to drive as economically as possible. That's why Hyundai is now introducing the Kona Electric, an electric-powered SUV. Is this the ideal car?

Change is fine, as long as it makes us better off. Initially, the electric car is therefore welcomed with open arms. As a rule, electric cars are faster, quieter and more comfortable than combustion-engine cars, and that is perceived as progress. But electric cars have a major drawback: the range is limited.

Hyundai Kona Electric

This is because the batteries that store electricity to drive the electric motor are heavy and expensive. Simply adding more batteries, while increasing the range, also makes a car expensive and heavy. It is therefore up to the carmaker to find the balance between price, weight and range. Hyundai solves this by offering the Kona Electric in two variants: with a small battery (39 kW) and a large battery (64 kW). With the small battery, the range is 300 km, while 470 km can be covered on the large battery (WLTP standard).

One or the other

The latter is comparable to the range of a petrol car, so range is no longer an argument against electric driving. Because of the greater range (and greater profits!), Hyundai is taking the Kona with large battery into production first. But. that big battery does come at a price. The "Kona Electric 64 kW" costs roughly double that of a petrol-powered Kona! For that money, a Hyundai IONIQ, Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf are also available. These are higher-end cars that are bigger and more luxurious. However, they are also cars that have only half or two-thirds the range of the Kona.

Hyundai Kona Electric

However, the Kona remains a lower-end SUV that offers significantly less refinement. This is evident in the materials used, the appearance and the equipment. For an SUV in the lower segment, however, the Kona does offer modern equipment with a lot of focus on safety (semi-self-driving features) and infotainment. As with the "regular" Kona, Krell's audio system deserves special mention. Its sound is not only good for a compact car, but would not even be out of place in a top-class limousine.

Spot the differences

The appearance differs from the other Konas. Because an electric motor needs less cooling, the grille is closed. This reduces drag, making a car more fuel-efficient and quieter. Already from outside, one can see that the batteries are mounted under the floor. This is because the battery pack is so tall that the ground clearance is significantly less than that of the Kona with combustion engine. Anyone wanting to use this SUV for (light) off-road driving will therefore have a lesser candidate in the electric version.

Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai Kona Electric

The height of the battery pack also limits the space under the front seats and therefore rear passengers have less room to put their feet. Instead, the "floating" centre tunnel provides extra storage space. As the centre tunnel contains no mechanical parts (gear lever and handbrake), it is much slimmer. On top of the centre tunnel are push buttons that are used to select forward, reverse or neutral.


Once the Kona Electric puts itself in motion, everything is also different. Not only is the electric version noticeably faster than even the fastest petrol-powered Kona, the difference lies mainly in the ease with which the Electric performs. After all, an electric motor does not need to rev to perform; as soon as the accelerator is touched, the Kona moves. The Kona does so in silence, and because there is no need to shift gears (electric cars have no gearbox), the electric motor offers maximum agility in every situation. For those who have driven the Kona Electric once, the petrol-powered version is instantly hopelessly outdated.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Behind the steering wheel are levers that can be used to determine how much energy is recovered when the accelerator is released. The more the car reduces speed, the more energy is recovered. A nice detail here is that the on-board computer shows how many metres of extra range that results in. In practice, this encourages smarter and thus more economical driving. Partly thanks to Hyundai's experience with other electric cars, the Kona has an efficient powertrain and the promised range of 500 km is actually achievable in practice (depending on driving style and weather conditions, of course).


One thing Hyundai seems to have forgotten: because an electric motor produces no noise and no vibration, other (driving) noises are all the more audible. Tyre noise is therefore very prominent. This detracts from the comfort that an electric car generally offers and again gives the feeling that this is "only" a b-segment SUV.

Because of its higher weight (+/- 300 kg extra) and different weight distribution, Hyundai was forced to choose a completely different chassis for the electric Kona. This achieved the most important goal: the Kona Electric has stable and safe handling. Moreover, it is in no way noticeable that this is a heavy car. At the same time, the charm of the conventional Kona has been lost. The latter has a distinctly dynamic character and therefore offers a good dose of driving pleasure, while the Electric's handling can best be described as "characterless".

Hyundai Kona Electric


Since the Kona Electric has the same range as a petrol car, there is no need to plan trips from one charging point to another (as with the first generation of electric cars). Those who want to can "fill up" whenever convenient, just like a petrol car. This is because the Kona Electric not only boasts a large battery, but also champions fast charging.

The technology in an electric car determines how fast the batteries can be charged. Some manufacturers cut back on this, allowing them to travel a long distance on a full battery, but then having to charge for so long that it is still impractical. They also sometimes economise by not actively cooling or heating a battery. The Hyundai Kona has an actively conditioned battery that, regardless of weather conditions, charges at lightning speed, performs optimally and also lasts longer than a "passive" battery.

Hyundai Kona Electric

The Kona Electric, like any other electric car, can be charged at home, which takes the longest time. By choosing a public charging point, 7.2 kWh can be charged and then a completely empty battery will be fully charged after 9.5 hours. The Kona is one of the first electric cars already ready for the latest generation of fast chargers. With a quick charger, the Kona accepts power outputs of up to 100 kW and then the battery is charged to 80% in 54 minutes. Ideal!


Is the Hyundai Kona Electric the ideal car? The answer to that question depends on the target market. The price of an electric car is largely determined by the batteries. Hyundai opts for a large battery and also does not skimp on battery technology or fast-charging capabilities. For the price of a Kona Electric, a lot of larger and more luxurious electric cars can therefore be bought. However, they all have a shorter range and/or less fast-charging capabilities. To make the choice even harder: the Kona Electric steers very differently from the petrol-powered Kona, and unfortunately the latter has an advantage when it comes to driving pleasure.

Because Hyundai wants to offer the best of everything, the price is logically high. For private buyers, the extra price of the electric Kona is therefore hardly recoverable and only true idealists will choose the Kona Electric (or wait for the version with smaller battery). For business drivers, only the tax rate matters, and it is so low that the Kona Electric is the ideal car for them.

  • Good design
  • Sublime audio system
  • Good range, super-fast charging
  • Less dynamic handling than Kona with petrol engine
  • Less ground clearance than Kona with combustion engine