Hyundai Kona Electric Roadtest Review – Electric days ahead


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Hyundai have a knack of being pioneers in getting the latest and innovative technology into India. The latest step in this direction is the Kona Electric Vehicle. The future is Electric and you can’t deny that fact. With the Hyundai Kona Electric the Korean car maker becomes the first one to actually launch an proper range SUV into the country. We were lucky to get behind the wheels of the Hyundai Kona Electric to understand the EV for our exclusive road test review coming directly from the Buddh race track.

Food for Thought

Hyundai had launched the Petrol and Diesel engined versions of the Kona in 2017. The Electric version of the Kona was launched in 2018. The Hyundai Kona is also sold in a few markets as Kauai and Encino. The Hyundai Kona has also won the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the year by What Car. The Hyundai Kona becomes the 1st All Electric Long Range SUV to be launched in India.

Exteriors

The Hyundai Kona EV upon first look appears catchy and trendy with its unique styling on the face. As this is an all electric car with no combustion engine there is no conventional grille with air on the face. The front gets a closed styled bumper. The charging socket is placed on the face covered with an openable lid. Special textured styling around the charging lid adds some unique character to the face of the Kona.

The slim styled DRL lights are placed on the bonnet sill, under this is the projector styled headlights. Joining the DRL’s is a slim silver body panel running horizontally across the Hyundai logo. The front bumper also gets special vents to aid aerodynamics of the vehicle. Both the front and rear fenders come with unpainted faux cladding with special BlueDrive badging boldly stating its Electric nature in front. The running board also gets plastic cladding giving the sides a touch of rugged SUV crossover feel.

The Hyundai Kona EV drives on Nexen tyres mounted on special five spoke alloys designed especially for EV’s sporting slim aerodynamic styling on them and running on 215/55 R17 spec tyres. The Kona also sports roof-rails and an electric sun roof. Wing mirrors get full electric adjust and also come with heating feature.

The rear styling is highlighted with stretched slim styled LED tail lamps and the extended rear spoiler with aerodynamic cuts on the edges. The rear bumper is in dual tone color and also comes mounted with turn and parking lights mounted on it.

The overall build quality and fit-finish is excellent. The unique closed face and the missing exhaust on the Kona EV makes it stand out and the vehicle demands loads of attention.

Interiors

The Hyundai Kona comes with an all black theme on its cabin and an soft touch sloping dashboard in place. The instrument cluster is an all digital with a round speedo in the center. The Centre dash sports a 7 inch floating touch screen infotainment system with the latest generation Hyundai system running it.

You get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, radio, USB, Navigation, wireless connectivity etc. Wireless charging feature is also on the feature list of the Kona. The leather wrapped steering is in a three spoke design with silver inserts and all the much needed multifunction buttons placed on it.

This steering also comes with paddle shifters on it but here on the EV they work to change the level of brake regeneration. The steering can be adjusted for height and reach. The Kona EV does not have a gearbox hence the drive shifting is controlled using buttons placed on the centre console. The seats get leather upholstery and full electric adjust with lumbar support.

The seats also get cooled ventilation. You get climate control with a unique driver only option too. This feature only activates the vents towards the driver. The front seats offer excellent support and comfort with good visibility of the road ahead. Rear seats are also supportive with loads of headroom and shoulder room alike. The rear seats come with adjustable headrests and folding armrest to enhance comfort levels.

Electric Motor – Drive – Handling

So what powers the Hyundai Kona EV? Well the heart of the Kona EV is an Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor ( PMSM) that sources its power from a high voltage 39.2 kWh advanced lithium -ion polymer Battery that develops 136ps of power and 40.27 kgm of torque to its front wheels.

The Hyundai Kona EV is rated at doing acceleration speeds 0-100kmph in just 9.7 secs. This Battery pack has its own liquid cooling technology and is weather sealed too.
How does it feel to drive the Kona EV? Well to start off you don’t actually feel any noise or vibration in the cabin as you do in a combustion engine car, this makes you wonder if the car is started or no.

Super silent and zero vibes the EV glides ahead in complete grace and harmony. Acceleration is instant and you can feel the power building up rapidly. The steering feedback is precise and sharp with positive response coming to the driver. The overall ride quality is excellent on the Hyundai Kona EV. You can toggle between the four preset drive modes – Eco, Eco+, Comfort and Sports.

The throttle response changes as per the modes and so does the overall drive range. We touched speeds of close to 165kmph driving on the Buddh race track and the Kona EV was more than happy and planted at this speed. Cornering was super fun with the EV gripping the tarmac very nicely.

Straight line acceleration is better than even some normal engined cars. No gearbox so no gearshifts resulting in smooth seamless pure acceleration. Comfort levels are very high and a very different experience driving the Kona EV.

How do you charge the Kona EV?

The Hyundai Kona EV comes with a portable charger and an AC wall box charger as standard. The portable charger cable is placed in the boot and can be used on any 15amp power socket while the AC wall box charger will be installed by Hyundai technicians wherever the owner wants it to be installed for example home, office etc.

The Kona has a claimed range of 452kms as tested by ARAI. The portable charger can top up the daily range by around 50kms in less than 3 hours while the AC wall charger takes 1 hour to top up the 50kms drive range. Also Hyundai has tied-up with Indian Oil fuel stations in select locations to install the DC Fast charging stations which can charge around 80% of the Battery in under 1 hour.

Additionally Hyundai is also getting a special Kona EV Fleet that can charge other Kona’s during emergencies while providing roadside assistance. Hyundai is offering the Kona EV with 3 years unlimited kms Warranty while the Battery pack comes with 8 years or 160,000kms Warranty.

Safety

Safety levels are pretty high on the Hyundai Kona EV, the vehicle comes with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ESC, VSM, HAC, rear camera, tyre pressure monitor, all disc brakes, virtual engine sound system (pedestrian safety), Electric parking brake to name a few.

Verdict

With the Kona, Hyundai has taken a big bold step towards the Electric future. With this they have a clear advantage of being the first mover. The Kona is an excellent Electric car with future technologies that delivers on all fronts like performance, comfort and convenience. The overall drive feel is very different and truly electrifying. Hyundai has also taken major steps in setting up charge stations and support to the Kona owners. With the Kona EV Hyundai Motor India has propelled itself right into the future and that too in sheer style and this is just the beginning. The Kona EV is priced at around ₹25 Lakh making it tad bit expensive but never the less is a bold positive new beginning for Electric Vehicles in India.

Review – Ritesh Madhok
Photography – Govind Gadekar

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