- Doors and Seats
5 doors, 5 seats
Perm Magnet, LI
- Engine Power
1 Spd Red’n Gear
5 Yr, Unltd KMs
- Ancap Safety
5/5 star (2017)
Hyundai has grown its Kona Electric range, with new lower-priced ‘Standard Range’ variants, but is the original Extended Range still the best? Sam Purcell finds out.
- Big battery nullifies range anxiety
- Well-sorted ride and steering quality
- Smooth, quiet and punchy electric powertrain
- Double the price of a non-electric Kona
- It’s worth considering the step up to the Highlander
- Size of the boot and second row not the greatest
Justifying an electric car is like a poisoned chalice, simply because they are still an expensive proposition next to their internal-combustion counterparts.
Take – for example – this 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric. In Kona Elite specification, and with the Extended Range battery pack (the larger of two available), you’re looking at $60,500 before on-road costs. That’s nearly double a petrol-powered Kona Elite, which costs $31,900 before on-road costs.
The Hyundai Kona Electric is available with a less powerful motor and smaller battery for $54,500 in Standard Range specification. Still a hefty premium over non-electric variants, but that’s simply the cost of materials and production.
The extra $6000 gives you a 50kW more powerful motor and a larger battery, which gets you up to 484km of driving in between plugging in. That’s according to WLTP testing, however, designed to mimic real-world use, though ultimately your individual usage may differ.
The 150kW motor is fed by a 64kWh lithium ion battery pack, which is 63 per cent larger than the Kona Electric Standard Range.
Not all electric cars have this same pointed dilemma of justification, because they’re only available in an electrified format. But maybe that’s part of the appeal potential for the Kona Electric? This electric car isn’t as radical or different, like you’ll find with options such as the Kia EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Tesla Model 3.
Sure, it’s missing the grille that a traditional Kona has, but otherwise it’s the same overall packaging and experience of Hyundai’s popular small SUV. And for many that’s a good thing.
Although, the numberplate on our test car does blow the cover quite a bit.
|Key details||2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Extended Range|
|Price (MSRP)||$60,500 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Surfy Blue|
|Options||Premium paint – $595|
|Price as tested||$60,500 before on-road costs, $66,581 drive-away (Sydney)|
|Rivals||Tesla Model 3 | Hyundai Ioniq 5 | MG ZS EV|
Inside, the Elite-specification Kona Electric does without some of the more premium touches of the Highlander in return for costing $3500 less. That extra spend does net you quite a lot of gear, however.
This cheaper Elite specification misses out on high-beam assist, front parking sensors, heating and venting for the front seats, 10-way power adjustment for the driver’s seat (eight-way for the front passenger), sunroof, head-up display and a heated steering wheel.
Elite certainly doesn’t strike you as a low-cost affair, with plenty of positives to note. There’s a 10.25-inch infotainment display backed up by a Harman Kardon-branded eight-speaker sound system. The seats and steering wheel are leather-appointed, and there is push-button start with keyless entry. Projector headlights are dusk-sensing, and the windscreen wipers have a rain-sensing function.
The interior of the Kona is one of decent size, especially for the small SUV segment. Getting in and driving is a painless affair made easier by the large storage compartment underneath the gear selector buttons. Down here you’ll find enough room to stuff a large handbag, along with single USB and 12V power outlets.
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Up on top sit two regulation cupholders and a decent-sized centre console storage cubby. The lidded compartment hides another USB power outlet, along with a wireless charging pad that will fit a big modern-day smartphone.
For everyday usage, the Kona works quite well from a practicality point of view.
In the second row there’s a single USB power outlet and flip-down cupholders in the middle but no air vents. In terms of space and comfort, it’s quite good for the segment. I don’t think any small SUVs will be accused of being capacious, but this Kona offered enough space for our family of four to load in comfortably.
Although, our more broad experience with the Kona range tells us that the amount of second-row space on offer isn’t a strength, and can be beaten by some competitors.
The boot – with its VDA measurement of 332L available – is around 40L less than a petrol-powered Kona. This is owing to the battery pack needing to live somewhere and impinging on the rear storage space. What you’ve got left over in this case is helped by some luggage netting, along with a special spot to store charging cables.
You’ll also find a tyre mobility (goo repair) kit here, with the space-saving spare wheel also falling victim to the space constraints of electrification.
|2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Extended Range|
|Boot volume||332L seats up / 1114L seats folded|
Infotainment and Connectivity
The infotainment display – measuring in at 10.25 inches and shared with the more expensive Highlander specification – is good. There’s the usual array of features you’d expect from a modern system: wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio and native navigation are all there.
This is backed up by a quality digital instrument cluster, which spends most of its time mimicking analogue dials. There’s a fair amount of information that one can dig through here, including all of the energy transfer to and from the battery pack. Having tyre pressure monitoring through here is a handy feature, especially when you don’t have a spare wheel to fall back on.
The infotainment’s operating system is good, proving easy to control and navigate through. Having a wide assortment of buttons and dials always helps in this regard, including a couple of buttons that users can customise with their own assignments.
Below that, you’ve got a traditional array of physical air-conditioning buttons and controls that – call me old-fashioned – makes life nice and easy. This isn’t fully-fledged digital climate control, but just a more simple air-conditioning set-up with an ‘auto’ option. But in our time with the car (during summer), it worked well.
Safety and Technology
The Kona Electric is well-loaded with active and passive safety equipment, regardless of which specification level you go for. Some of the highlights include: autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and collision avoidance, lane-keep assist, safe exit assist, rear cross-traffic alert and collision avoidance, tyre pressure monitoring, rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera.
As is the case with many Hyundais, the lane-keep assistance technology feels a little bit hit-and-miss in its tuning and execution. Sometimes it’s good, but other times – particularly when lane markings aren’t great – it’s fidgety and awkward. Sometimes I found myself turning it off.
For those with plenty of traffic in their daily commute, the adaptive cruise-control feature – which includes stop-and-go functionality – will be a welcome one.
Going to the Highlander gets you parking sensors and a camera up front, along with high-beam assistance on its LED headlights (Elite makes do with projector-style headlights).
There are six airbags on the inside, and a five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2017.
|2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Extended Range|
|ANCAP rating||Five stars (tested 2017)|
|Safety report||Link to ANCAP report|
Value for Money
Here we grip that poisoned chalice and take a drink. Because on the face of it, this electric Kona is hard to justify when it costs nearly twice as much as a petrol-powered Kona.
However, such an assessment will be tempered by how highly one values an electric powertrain. And for those who only want to buy electric, then the Kona is worth considering. It rates well purely from a bang-for-buck perspective when looking at electric driving range packaged up in a popular SUV format.
Perhaps the Kia Niro gives this Kona a strong shake-up in terms of value, but it’s a dated platform that is soon to be replaced. This Kona – although not much newer – feels fresher and more resolved from first impressions.
And, of course, don’t forget the Tesla Model 3. It can be had at a similar price to this Kona in its cheapest ‘Standard Range Plus’ specification.
|At a glance||2022 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite Extended Range|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited kilometres|
|Battery warranty||Eight years / 160,000km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 15,000km|
|Servicing costs||$540 (3 years), $1445 (5 years)|
|Energy cons. (claimed)||14.7kWh/100km|
|Energy cons. (on test)||15.1kWh/100km|
|Battery size||64.0kWh (484km range)|
Elite specification feels well-stocked with technology and gizmos as well; however, stepping up to the Highlander feels quite alluring. Splashing out an extra $3500 does yield a nice packet of extra gear.
Servicing costs seem reasonable at $540 for three years or $1445 for five years using Hyundai’s pre-paid servicing schedule. The factory five-year and unlimited-kilometre warranty is good, and backed up by eight years and 160,000km of coverage for the 64kWh battery.
The Hyundai Kona Electric Extended Range has one of the larger batteries available for its price and segment, and one of the better driving ranges to boot. With a driving range of 484km – according to the more stringent WLTP testing cycle – it means many would only need to recharge once a week at most.
In terms of charging, the Kona is capable of 100kW fast-charging via a CCS connection, which can take the Kona Extended Range from zero to 80 per cent in under one hour.
Charging via a 7kW wall box on an AC current via the Type 2 connector is naturally a bit slower: over nine hours. And charging up from your regular wall plug – which can only supply around 2kW – would take well over 24 hours for a full charge.
That’s no fault of the car, however. It’s because the battery is so damned big.
Speaking of that big battery, we were easily able to get 450km out of a single charge. This is lower than the claim, but our driving also included plenty of power-sapping highway driving with the air-conditioning cranking. If you were more judicious with your driving around town, you might even be able to match the claim.
The 150kW and 395Nm are both healthy figures for the Kona, even if they are required to shove the 1685kg of kerb mass. It feels perkier than the petrol-powered variants, excluding the turbocharged N. It might even feel on par with the less potent N-Line variant.
No doubt, the instantly torquey response of the electric powertrain helps it feel zippy. And for the kind of around-town driving that most will be undertaking with a Kona like this, that’s exactly where you want it. No waiting for throttles to open and turbochargers to spool up, just acceleration.
The smooth and responsive nature of an electric powertrain yields great dividends for occupants as well. It’s quiet and refined, with only a mild electric hum audible at times.
I found the paddle shifters quite handy, and using them to slow the Kona as much as possible to draw power back into the system via the regenerative braking. You can choose this to your own taste, going from barely noticeable to quite startling.
In comparison to a petrol-powered Kona, one can certainly feel the additional weight, which can be up to 400kg. The suspension has obviously been retuned to handle the heft, but the reminder comes through as one feels the tyres working hard around corners.
It’s a balanced and responsive experience, with a nice combination of ride, handling and body control, but sporty driving isn’t its forte.
|Key details||2022 Hyundai Kona Elite Extended Range|
|Motor||Single permanent magnet synchronous|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Power to weight ratio||89.0kW/t|
The 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric is a well-executed adaptation of Hyundai’s small SUV into a zero-tailpipe-emissions vehicle. Which is kind of strange to say, because it doesn’t have a tailpipe at all.
Many will baulk at the price, which is understandable. However, that’s simply the price of doing business with things carrying big lithium batteries. And until technology goes through another handful of step-changes, or we see big subsidies, that will remain the case for some years.
For those who want an electric car – and they’re willing to pay the premium to do so – the Kona Electric is well worth looking at. It’s functional and practical, with a body style that many Australians already know and love.
The second row and boot might not be class-leading, but the general ride quality and performance are as good as the rest of the Kona range: very good.
Plus, this bigger Extended Range battery pack means you can spend more time behind the wheel without sweating over your next plug-in opportunity.