A decade back in time, if you were in a market for an electric car, you’d either end up getting a grimace or an uncanny gaze. You see, back in the day, gasoline and oil-burner powered cars reigned supreme, and people were not very concerned about the environment. But over the past couple of years, times have changed and climatic change has become one of the severe issues to deal with.
Quite frankly, in most of the contrary situations, automobiles and vehicular pollutions are the ones to take the blame. Now let’s leave this discussion for some other day and focus on what we have in front of us today. You see, Hyundai has been successfully retailing the Kona SUV in European and Western markets. For India though, the Korean automaker is keen on introducing the electric avatar of the crossover SUV. Before that happens, we managed to drive the Kona EV for an extensive period of time. Here’s our Hyundai Kona Electric SUV review.
Quirky Yet Conventional!
If you have ever laid eyes on the global-spec Kona, you’d recognize the electrically-powered crossover in a heartbeat. In my opinion, I’d say the Kona is an interesting amalgamation of design of an SUV and a hatchback. It’s a very unique design with a blend of quirkiness and convention to the right limit so that it is still accepted easily. That said, there are some touches to the design that tells you that this is not your conventional fuel-powered vehicle.
Most of these cues are allocated in Kona’s finer design such as the fully enclosed front grille in place of a conventional cascading grille that also houses the electric charging port and the 17-inch alloy wheels with large spokes for the purpose of aerodynamics.
Keeping up with the trends, the Hyundai Kona Electric gets a split headlamp set up at the front with sleek DRLs and indicators up top and the chunky projector unit mounted on the bumper – something we already came across in the Venue. In profile, the 17-inch wheels look dapper and the overly swollen wheel arches give it a more SUV-ish feel. That said, the aerodynamic lines flow straight from the front fender to the rear LED-tail lamps, which again are simply a work of art. Although, in our time while filming the Kona Electric SUV review, we were simply impressed by the build quality.
Once inside, you are greeted by a clean and clutter-free cabin. The fit and finish are up to the Korean automaker’s standards. That said, the cabin isn’t as premium as what you would expect from other SUVs in the same price bracket.
But then again, the Electric Hyundai is loaded to the brim. There’s an 8.0-inch touchscreen with a dash of features that takes up the center stage. However, unlike the Venue, the Kona misses out on connectivity features meaning you can’t remotely access the Kona. Other than that, you get ventilated seats, a driver-only air conditioning option and wireless charging. In our time throughout the Hyundai Kona Electric SUV review, we were quite impressed with the front seats for the immaculate comfort and cushioning over the right places.
I am Electric!
The main highlight of the Kona remains to be the all-electric powertrain. In that case, the Kona lays claim over the bragging rights of being the first electric SUV with a sufficed range. Internationally, the Kona Electric is offered in two battery configurations – a long-range 64KWh battery and a standard-range 39KWh. In India, we only get the 39KWh setup. Even with the small-battery setup, the Kona claims an impeccable ARAI-certified range of 452km on a single charge. However, in real-world we expect the Kona to deliver 300km of range, which still seems quite remarkable for an electric SUV.
Pressing the ignition switch, and the Kona comes to life in utter silence. As far as specs are concerned, this motor produces 136bhp and 395Nm of torque, right from the get-go. The instant torque means that there’s no delay in the power delivery, and the car pushes ahead with minimal effort. There are three regenerative braking modes which you can toggle through from the steering-mounted paddles. In the most aggressive state, the Kona tends to become a single pedal car. What this means, is that the regenerative braking is extremely exorbitant which makes the Kona decelerate aggressively as soon as you lift your foot off the throttle. In our Kona Electric SUV review, we also noticed the car uses the maximum possible energy generated during braking to charge the battery. In that case, the Kona becomes reasonably fun to drive, save for the fact you only have to play with the throttle knowing the car will brake automatically.
As for the ride and handling, just like the newer Hyundais, the Kona is well-sorted as well. You see, the ride quality is amazing and cutting through triple-digit speeds is an effortless task for the Kona. However, the steering while direct lacks any sort of communication or really feel.
Even while the Kona Electric easily tackles the range anxiety discomfort thanks to the massive ARAI-certified range. The problem what the electric Kona lays is that there is no real charging infrastructure as of yet in the country. You see, Hyundai is good enough to pack up a portable charger and an AC-charging home mount in the Kona. But as far as charging time is concerned, you are looking at around 19 hours and 7 hours respectively for a full charge. For the time being, Indian Oil is offering a fast charging solution for the Kona which will fill up the car by 80% in just 57min. But then again, it’s only limited to metropolitan cities.
Worth The Penny?
Kona Electric is actually a fantastic product for the Indian market. The Korean automaker is keen on minimizing the need for fossil fuels in the Indian market. And with an ARAI-certified range of over 400km and a staggering design combined with an immaculate fit-and-finish, the Kona electric makes for a fantastic product. Why you should buy second-hand luxury cars?
But the problem still lays in the charging structure. As of now, electric vehicles with a long driving range and portable fast charging still aren’t easily accessible. In that sense, we’ll have to wait and hope to see better in the future. For our extensive Hyundai Kona Electric SUV review, be sure to tune in to autoX.
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