- Doors and Seats
- Engine Power
- Ancap Safety
Hyundai makes the Kona Electric more compelling with a more affordable variant dropping into the range. But, it comes at a cost…
- Zippy performance and supple ride
- Great list of standard equipment
- Better-than-claimed range
- Second row is tight
- Boot space compromised by the battery pack
- No spare tyre is a letdown
Hyundai has made no secret of its plans to be Australia’s leader in electric vehicles, promising a slew of new models by 2025.
Case in point is the 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Standard Range, which joins the brand’s expanded Kona EV line-up, offering less driving range than the original Kona EV (now renamed Extended Range) but at a more affordable price.
Price has long been a barrier to larger-scale electric vehicle uptake, and with the Kona EV Standard Range, Hyundai is making moves to democratise EV ownership.
“We are committed to expanding our EV portfolio across Australia … Our aim is to be a leading Australian EV provider,” said John Kett, Chief Operating Officer of Hyundai Motor Company Australia mid last year.
The car on test here is the Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Standard Range. It’s the most affordable Kona Electric in the brand’s line-up priced at $54,500 plus on-road costs. That compares favourably against the Kona Electric Extended range that gets underway at $60,500 for the Elite trim and tops out at $64,000 for the top-spec Highlander trim, both before on-road costs.
That makes the Standard Range around $10,000 more affordable than the range-topping Highlander Extended Range. It’s an astute move from the Korean carmaker, where consumers might baulk at paying around $64,000 for a small SUV, even an electric one, but might consider one priced closer to mid-fifties. Time will tell.
The Kona Electric Standard Range’s pricing certainly makes a compelling case in the world of EVs, undercutting sister brand Kia and its Niro that gets underway at $67,490 drive-away for the entry-level S, or $70,990 drive-away for the range-topping Niro Sport.
The Kona Electric Standard Range doesn’t quite take the mantle of ‘Australia’s most affordable electric vehicle’ – that honour still belonging to the MG ZS EV and its $44,990 drive-away price. But it does bring the game closer, and it does offer better driving range (305km against the MG’s 263km), and in a segment where range is paramount that counts for everything.
Standard equipment is aplenty, the Kona Electric even in this most entry-level spec brimming with niceties and technology. Highlights include 17-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with smartphone mirroring and inbuilt satellite navigation, a second 10.25-inch digital driver display, leather-appointed seat trim, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, wireless smartphone charging, climate control, and rain-sensing wipers. There’s also a full complement of active safety technology.
The Kona Electric Standard Range is powered by a single electric motor sending drive to the front wheels. It makes 100kW and 395Nm and gets its electrons from a 39.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Hyundai says the Standard Range is good for 305km, although we saw around 333km during our week with the small SUV.
Externally, there is little to differentiate the Kona Electric from its petrol-powered siblings. The most noticeable difference is around the grille area, the electric version doing away with a conventional grille that allows airflow over the engine for a colour-coded solid design. Electric cars don’t need engine cooling, though do still require some flow for battery cooling. The wheels, too, are noticeable for their solid and distinctive design, there to minimise drag and thereby increasing range.
The jury’s out whether the bespoke design elements of the Kona Electric enhance or hinder what is, to our eyes, one of the better-looking mainstream small SUVs on the market.
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It’s sleek, it’s modern, it’s comfortable, and it simply makes you give that sigh of contentment when you slide inside.
There’s something about that white interior that screams modern, that shouts future, that feels more expensive than the Kona EV’s circa $55,000 buy-in suggests. Yes, there are some harder plastic elements, but the key areas of focus, such as the dashtop, yield to the touch.
Electric vehicles of all persuasions seem to embrace minimalism inside, and the Kona is no exception. There’s a paucity of distractions with a clean and uncluttered layout. Physical buttons are smoothly integrated into the dash and underneath the infotainment screen, while the push-button gear selector is snugly fitted into the centre console.
Personally, a gear lever works just fine for me, but I can appreciate the aesthetic the push-button selector brings to the clean lines of the Kona’s interior.
Storage is plentiful with a pair of generous cupholders, a decent-sized central storage bin, an additional lidded cubby in the centre console and bottle-sized door bins. There’s also a cavernous storage area under the centre console, but it’s awkward to reach and clumsy to use. We can’t imagine a practical use for it.
Second-row passengers also score a pair of cupholders in the fold-down armrest, while the door pockets can accommodate bottles. But it’s not all wine and roses back there.
Thanks to the Kona’s EV architecture, the battery array living under the raised floor has impacted on space. There’s minimal toe and leg room, although head room is fine for most adults. There are no air vents back there either, although thanks to the raised floor and that white interior, there’s an overwhelming feeling of light and space, even if the latter is an illusion. Still, as temporary accommodation for around town, the second row is fine.
The boot measures in at 332L and expands to 1114L with the second-row seats folded away. That’s down on the 361L/1143L the regular non-electric Kona offers, all of that litreage down to the battery array underneath. Also, don’t look for a spare tyre, not even a space-saver, as the Kona EV is fitted with a repair kit. Boo.
|2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Standard Range|
|Boot volume||332L seats up / 1114L seats folded|
Infotainment and Connectivity
A generous 10.25-inch touchscreen hosts the Kona’s infotainment system. It runs Hyundai’s latest operating system and is a pleasure to use, with an ease of functionality sometimes missing from modern vehicles.
There’s inbuilt satellite navigation as well as smartphone mirroring via wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. CarPlay works as you’d expect – quick to pair, and easy to use – while a handy split-screen function (configurable) allows you to keep an eye on range and battery life, as well as a neat little feature that displays where the nearest electric vehicle charging station is located. Digital radio is standard, alongside the traditional AM/FM band, as is wireless phone charging.
The array of shortcut buttons is a welcome feature in an automotive landscape gradually doing away with them. Similarly, having manual buttons and dials for climate-control functions is a boon – easy to use without taking your eyes off the road.
Complementing the Kona EV’s 10.25-inch infotainment screen is another 10.25-inch screen, this one acting as a digital driver display. It’s configurable with a variety of driving data. It looks good, too, with its white dials on a dark background – modern. There are a couple of USB-A plugs up front and an additional one in the second row to help keep devices juiced.
A premium eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system does the audio heavy lifting and offers good sound quality.
The broader Hyundai Kona range was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating back in 2017. This has been updated to include all electric variants.
Australia’s safety body gave it an overall score of 35.07 out of a possible 37, with notable high points a perfect 16 out of 16 for side impact protection and 14.07 out of 16 in frontal offset crash testing.
The Kona Electric range is equipped with Hyundai’s latest suite of active safety technology. Dubbed Hyundai SmartSense, the suite includes blind-spot monitoring and avoidance assist, driver attention alert, camera- and radar-based autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist and lane-following assist, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function.
A suite of six airbags covers both rows of occupants, while those with kiddies are catered for by a pair of ISOFIX mounts on the outboard seats and three top-tether points on the second-row seatbacks.
Taken at face value, the Hyundai Kona EV Standard Range currently represents good value for the EV segment. With its circa $55K starting price, the Kona EV is at the lower end of the EV market. Yes, the MG ZS EV can be had for around $10K less, but we’d argue the Kona represents better value thanks to its longer range and healthy equipment list.
Hyundai covers the Kona EV with its standard five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, while services are required every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Service packs can be prepaid and ask for $540 over three years or $1445 over five.
Hyundai claims the Kona Electric Standard Range will consume energy at the rate of 14.3kWh/100km. Our week of largely urban driving netted a return of just 12.1kWh per 100km, a good deal under the maker’s claim. That translated to greater driving range, too, with the Kona EV indicating 333km of range at our consumption levels against Hyundai’s 305km claim. Nice.
|At a glance||2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Standard Range|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$540 (3 years), $1445 (5 years)|
|Energy cons. (claimed)||14.3kWh/100km|
|Energy cons. (on test)||12.1kWh/100km|
The good news here is the Hyundai Kona Electric Standard Range drives just like a regular, run-of-the-mill, petrol-powered Hyundai Kona, only quieter. It’s light on its wheels, agile and nimble around town, and simply a pleasure to drive.
It boasts a front-mounted electric motor pumping out 100kW and 395Nm to the front wheels. That motor is fed by a 39.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack and Hyundai claims a driving range of 305km, which is more than enough (just) for the average Australian weekly commute of around 289km (based on our 15,000km annual average). And, as already pointed out, our week with the Kona EV did even better, indicating 333km of available range.
Things to know. Initial acceleration is sharp, the Kona moving away from standstill really quickly. Sure, it’s not in Porsche Taycan or Tesla Model S territory, but first-time EV drivers will be surprised at just how fast the Kona gets off the line.
It’s tempting to mash the throttle every time moving away from traffic lights, because that surge of instant torque is fun, but the cost in available range means you don’t want to do it too often. Stick to driving the Kona EV like a conventional petrol-powered car is our tip.
Other things to know. Some of the lost energy in the battery can be regenerated via the Kona’s brakes, and you can vary the amount of regeneration – from mild to aggressive – via the paddle-shifters on the steering wheel.
In its mildest mode, deceleration once off the accelerator is, as the name suggests, quite mild. Medium ramps up regeneration but still needs you to use the brake pedal to come to a complete stop.
But in its most aggressive setting, and with some getting used to, you can in theory never touch the brake pedal. Instead, the regeneration is aggressive enough to ensure the Kona EV comes to a complete stop without using the brake pedal, all while feeding electrons and precious range back into the battery pack.
It’s not a huge amount, and eventually the battery will be depleted to levels where charging is a good idea. However, as an example, my commute from Drive HQ to home is around 9km of inner-city driving, and using the regenerative function in its most aggressive setting, I could complete the trip using around 6km of indicated range. Every little bit counts, right?
Things to know about charging. The Kona Electric Standard Range features a Type 2 AC socket suitable for most public charging destinations. It takes around 48 minutes, according to Hyundai, to reach 80 per cent charge from zero at a 50kW DC public charger. That’s weekly grocery shop time.
Using a Hyundai-supplied 7.7kW wall charger installed at your home takes about four hours from 0–80 per cent, while using a conventional home socket blows charging out to 13 hours. Keep it topped up, nightly, is our tip.
Things to know about the driving experience. Once you get past the quietude (there is no engine noise, obviously) and the rush of acceleration, the Kona EV drives just like a regular small SUV.
It’s zippy around town, accomplished out on the highway (although cruising at 110km/h does chew through range), and thanks to local suspension tuning it remains comfortable and cossetting inside. The Kona EV’s sweet spot is in an urban environment, where harvested energy can be fed back into the batteries and its agile nature, despite its 1535kg kerb weight (only marginally heavier by around 30kg than a petrol Kona N Line Premium), makes for a pleasant and quiet driving experience.
Quick off the mark, a breeze to manoeuvre, and with a commendable ride quality that soaks up the detritus of our modern urban roads with ease, all ensures the Kona is a pleasure to drive.
|Key details||2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Standard Range|
|Engine||Single permanent magnet synchronous motor|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Single-speed reduction gear|
|Power to weight ratio||65.2kW/t|
It might not have the rock star presence of Hyundai’s all-new Ioniq 5 electric car with its undeniable good looks and street appeal. Nor does it offer the emblematic virtue-signalling of a Tesla, but the Hyundai Kona Electric Standard Range is a small SUV that looks, feels and drives like a regular car that just happens to be electric.
It’s packed with features, is relatively affordable in the sphere of electric cars, and offers enough range for most people to go for a week without the need for charging.
There are shortcomings. Second-row comfort isn’t the last word in, er, comfort, while boot space is compromised by the battery array under the floor.
Still, as an electric vehicle, the Kona fills the brief admirably with real-world driving range, decent road manners, a cabin that looks and feels modern and fresh, and enough performance to satisfy most. If you’re tempted by a switch to electric vehicles and don’t know where to start, the $54,500 (plus on-road costs) Hyundai Kona Electric Standard Range is worth considering.