Riding high in the Hyundai Kona City Slicker

The Hyundai Kona is available in petrol and electric models; with the electric variants offering a cost effective EV (electric vehicle) option. I spent a week with the Kona Highlander EV, which has a 64kW Lithium-ion Polymer battery connected to a permanent magnet synchronous motor with 150kW of power and 395Nm of torque driven through the front wheels by a single speed reduction gear transmission.

One thing EVs don’t lack is off the line acceleration, but the Kona’s front wheels could not cope with this and there was some torque steer and the Kona lost grip even in the dry and in the wet I needed to apply a gentle application to the accelerator. This is not a performance EV and the note on the sun visor that the Kona has a high rollover risk and the driver should avoid abrupt manoeuvres and excessive speed reiterates this.

Depending on your daily commute, the Kona could easily be driven all week and then plugged in and charged over the weekend using the standard 240V plug, which charges at a rate of 2.3kW/hour.  You can purchase a Delta In-home charge for $1,990 installed and according to the Hyundai website this will provide a full charge in 9 hours and 35 minutes. The Kona has a Type 2 plug and is also compatible with DC (fast) charging at CCS stations.

Hyundai Australia does not have a partnership with the any of the charge station providers and do not recommend any particular charge network to their customers. For me this is a major drawback for the Kona, not having certainty about charging locations and being reliant on third party apps like Plug Share to locate a charger is an issue for me, as is the lack on high speed charging points for non-Tesla EVs currently available in Australia.

The Kona has three drive modes; Eco, Comfort and Sport. I spent all of my time in Sport meaning the Kona was zippy off the line making it easy to slip into gaps in the traffic. Each mode is configurable for climate control use and the recuperation level for how hard the engine brakes for battery regeneration.

Under the EV menu on the infotainment system you are given information on where your energy consumption is going to being driving, climate, electronics and battery care. The sat nav also shows charging locations and this includes all major networks and you can also filter charging stations by type (e.g. AC or DC). There are more charging locations closer to Sydney, but none where I live on the out-skirts of Sydney. New charging stations are added through Satellite Navigation software updates at Hyundai dealerships.

According to the on-board computer of the Kona I used an average of 14.6kW/100km giving me a driving range from the 64kW battery of 438km. I calculated that my actual usage was 13.6kW/100km, meaning a range of 470km which is excellent. For each trip you do the Kona will also calculate how much CO2 you are saving compared to a petrol powered car.

Other than the EV functions the infotainment system is the same as the standard offered by Hyundai. You get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and you can only use voice control functionality when your phone is connected by this. Media options include DAB, FM/AM radio, Bluetooth, USB and AUX and sat nav has SUNA traffic information.

The cabin of the Kona has an unpleasant strong plastic smell and the plastics used are hard and not nice to touch on the dash, centre console and door. There is a decent sized storage cubby under the arm rest and at the front of the centre console is one USB port, AUX outlet and wireless phone charging for compatible devices. Under the centre console where the transmission tunnel would normally be is a large flat ledge for smart phone storage with one USB port and one 12V outlet.

The steering wheel is heated for those cold winter mornings. The paddles at the back of the steering wheel are not for changing gears obviously, but rather to adjust the regenerative braking on the Kona. The Kona has a head-up display that rises out of the top of the dash, but it was not positioned well for me as I had to crouch down in the seat to see it and so I didn’t use it.

The front seats are comfortable and have power adjustment including lumbar support for the driver. There are no memory positions for the seats, but they are heated and cooled and the cooling does work OK and was appreciated on a hot summer’s day. My Kona had about 10,000km on the odometer and the white leather appointed seats were showing signs of discolouration.

The rear seats are a bit tight on leg room for adults, but there is plenty of head room. Rear passengers have no air vents, so I needed to turn up the air conditioning and position it to blow air into the back for my children. In addition to the lack of rear vents there are also no USB or 12V outlets in the back. There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but you will definitely only fit two car seats in the back. The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two rigid drink holders and you also have drink bottle storage in the door cubbies.

The boot on the Kona has a manual open and close and fits the weekly shop easily. The boot has four tie-down points, one hook and no 12V outlet. You do not get a spare tyre, only a run flat kit and stored under the boot floor is your portable charge lead in a neat bag.

At the front of the Kona where you would normally find the engine is the electric motor and air con system, etc., so no extra storage here like in some other EVs. This also makes the Kona a noisy EV when you are standing on the outside of the car when it is running. The charging port on the Kona is at the front of the car, which may be convenient for some applications, but it does mean that if you have a nose to tail accident the charging port will most likely be damaged. I did like that the port had an external indicator to show when charging was occurring and how full the battery was.

Driver safety aids fitted as standard on the Kona Highlander include Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist – City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian (camera & radar), High Beam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist – Line/Road-Edge, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning and Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go. Passive safety includes driver and front passenger airbags, side (thorax) airbags – driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags for the first and second row passengers. All Hyundai Kona variants have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating tested to 2017 standards.

The Hyundai Kona comes with a 5 year/unlimited new vehicle warranty and an 8 year/160,000km battery warranty. The Kona Electric Highlander requires a service every 15,000km or once a year, whichever comes first and you can purchase a service plan upfront for the Kona for three ($495), four ($660) or five ($825) years, so you will know your service costs in advance.

The Kona is a great city car due to its size, manoeuvrability and light-feeling steering. It has plastic wheel arches that are not painted, making them easy to fix if they are scraped. I think the exterior design is cute and the Kona does not have an ugly face and I even think the aerodynamic wheels look alright.

The Kona EV Highlander I drove had the optional Two-Tone Roof (no cost option, but deletes the sunroof) and was $64,490 + $595 for metallic paint, bringing the total to $65,085 plus on-road costs, making the Kona one of the cheapest options currently available in Australia to drive an EV. Visit your preferred Hyundai dealer to learn more about the Kona EV.

Pros Cons
Good real-world battery range Reliance on third-party charging networks
Well adjusted city SUV No rear passenger air vents
Driver safety aids included as standard Interior plastics do not smell nice

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.