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Hyundai Kona Electric Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2019
      Body type
      Crossover
      Fuel type
      EV
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Great introduction to electric cars”

Best bits

  • Impressive 279-mile electric range
  • Easy yet fun to drive
  • Transferable five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty

Not so great

  • Not as practical as alternatives like the Kia e-Niro
  • Interior could be more stylish
  • Little chance of a second-hand bargain

Read by

Hyundai Kona Electric frontright exterior

Overall verdict

Hyundai Kona Electric front interior

On the inside

Hyundai Kona Electric frontleft exterior

Driving

Hyundai Kona Electric central dashboard

How much does it cost to run

Hyundai Kona Electric backleft exterior

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Hyundai Kona Electric is one of the best electric cars on the market. It’ll travel far enough between charges to keep most of us happy, and you get a load of standard equipment for your money. It’s so desirable that actually finding one might be tricky, and you’ll pay a premium for it."

Hyundai Kona Electric frontright exterior

The Hyundai Kona Electric could be the car that convinces you that now is the time to go electric. It’s relatively affordable (lightly-used examples start below £30,000), can travel a useful distance between charges (up to 279 miles) and it comes with an extensive list of equipment for the cash.


Chuck in a long warranty and a desirable crossover SUV body style and the Kona Electric is - on paper at least - about as close to perfect as electric vehicles come.


It’s easy to see why demand for the Kona Electric is so overwhelmingly huge. At one point, Hyundai had to take it off sale as waiting times extended to beyond a year. The range has now been streamlined to allow faster deliveries and reduce the wait, but you’d still be wise to skip the queue by looking for an as-new previously-owned example.


In typical electric car fashion, the Kona Electric is a lot of fun to drive. It does without a conventional gear selector, instead using four buttons to allow you to select drive, reverse, neutral or park. You’ll have to recalibrate your mind if you’ve not driven an EV before - it’ll accelerate instantaneously (there’s no waiting for the turbo the spool up or the transmission to find an appropriate gear), and there’s little noise to give you an idea of how fast you’re travelling.


You can slow down by simply lifting off the accelerator pedal. Increase the regenerative braking if you want to reduce your reliance on the brakes, but it’s not as severe as the Nissan Leaf (which has a one-pedal driving mode).


All this means the Kona Electric’s in its element around town. It’ll down in and out of traffic in a manner that’d look antisocial in a noisy combustion-engined car, while the slightly higher than normal seating position gives you a good view of the road ahead. Its relatively compact dimensions mean it’s quite an easy car for squeezing in and out of gaps, too.


While there’s plenty of power to get up to motorway speeds, you’ll find that the remaining range starts to fall quite quickly if you’re hustling in the outside lane - but that’s true for most electric cars. It’s not as refined as alternatives here, with quite a significant amount of wind and road noise.


The cabin feels modern, but it’s far from as futuristic as the new Honda E. Premium and Premium SE models come with a 10.25-inch infotainment system which is simple to operate, helped by useful shortcut buttons alongside the digital display. It looks sharp with clear graphics and fast responses, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are welcome standard features.


The Kona Electric’s interior isn’t as plush as the MINI Electric, either. You’ll find a few below-par materials (the plastic on the centre console, for example) and it doesn’t look particularly attractive. It’s not offensive, though, and it’s logically laid out. You’ll find it easy to get comfortable, too, thanks to plenty of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel.


Rear space isn’t great. Adults will find it feels pretty tight back there, without a great deal of legroom. And the boot’s pretty small, too, with the batteries and charging cables leaving just 332 litres of space - less than in a Hyundai Ioniq Electric or Volkswagen e-Golf. You may wish to look at the Kia e-Niro if practicality’s important.


Still, these minor gripes aside, the Hyundai Kona Electric is a hugely impressive car. You won’t get a bargain - strong demand will see to that - but you will get an electric car that’ll be cheap to run, reliable, fun to drive and - the sticking point for many buyers - able to travel fairly long distances between charges.


If you want the standard Kona, you need our Hyundai Kona review.

Is the Hyundai Kona Electric right for you?

If you’re wondering about switching to electric but need to cover relatively long journeys without plugging in, the Kona Electric’s 279-mile range should give you some peace of mind. It’s not as practical as the bigger Kia e-Niro but it’s easy (and fun) to drive and comes with a lot of standard equipment.

What’s the best Hyundai Kona Electric model/engine to choose?

Don’t bother hunting out a 39kWh model unless you find one that’s particularly cheap - the 64kWh is much more common and more desirable. It’s worth looking for the Premium trim level for the bigger infotainment screen and navigation. The Premium SE comes with some very appealing features, but you’ll pay the price.

What other cars are similar to the Hyundai Kona Electric?

You could also look at the Kia e-Niro. It shares the Kona’s tech, but it’s bigger and more practical (and costlier). Then there’s the Kia Soul EV or Hyundai Ioniq - two more brilliant Korean electric cars. The BMW i3 is a strong competitor, as well as the Volkswagen e-Golf and upcoming ID.3. The Nissan Leaf is a popular choice and represents good value for money, but it’s far from being ahead of the game.

Learn more

Hyundai Kona Electric front interior

On the inside

Hyundai Kona Electric frontleft exterior

Driving

Hyundai Kona Electric central dashboard

How much does it cost to run

Hyundai Kona Electric backleft exterior

Prices, versions and specification