I was really excited about this test drive. Ever since Hyundai announced the upcoming availability of the Hyundai Kona’s electric version at the Manila International Auto Show in April 2019, I had been excited to try out this car, electric or otherwise. From not knowing much about the Kona, I was suddenly doing a lot of research about it—reading motoring articles from both local and international outlets, and watching video reviews on YouTube. I even went as far as to check out the Kona EV in person at a South Delhi showroom. By doing so, I got to experience the cockpit, sit in the front and back seats, see the full spec sheet of the model they offered in India, and learn a lot about the different features of the Kona EV. All said, for a good couple of months in 2019, I was telling my partners at DIYguru, “Our next car will be a Kona EV.” There were some good things, some bad ones, and some surprises I learned along the way. This time, I’m sharing my thoughts on the Hyundai Kona with a special mention of appreciating it from the point of view of an electric car in the Indian market with maximum range.
India’s first all-electric premium crossover is – Hyundai Kona EV. Kona carries the green image with no tailpipe emission, which will appeal to the environmentally conscious. Its INR 25.30 lakh tag makes it appear expensive initially however once you factor in its green credentials, the technology on offer, the warranty packages, and the low running costs the Kona makes a compelling case for itself.The car looks like an oversized hatchback with crossover treatment rather than the SUV that Hyundai likes to call it. It lies somewhere between i20 and Creta. The split headlamp setup with slim indicator atop the LED projectors looks sharp, so does the slim LED taillights. The most distinctive visual component is the excellent front body panel with a “positive charge” indentation instead of an air dam as seen in other cars.The seventeen-inch wheel looks trendy and stylish. Hyundai Kona looks arresting with roof-mounted spoilers and overall edgy design. Without featuring too much quirk across, it does have the premium sporty look. Considering the price tag, the interior feels a touch underwhelming. Mostly the interior has hard plastic except for a soft touch panel on dashboard fascia.
Kona shares the steering and some of the switchgear with the cheaper Venue SUV. Kona is missing the Blue Link sim-based connectivity tech that was introduced with Venue. The digital instrument cluster is comfortable on the eye. The floating touchscreen with physical buttons looks slick. As you step inside the car, you feel the slender door cavity. Due to the raised floor height (to accommodate the battery pack), you are seated quite low, in a knee-up position.The legroom in the rear is quite tight. The headroom is also smaller for taller occupants thanks to the sunroof. The slim rear windscreen compromises the rearward visibility. The car offers a variety of safety features like six airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP and hill start assist. The Kona is packed with premium features like sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, 10-way powered driver’s seat, touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, tire pressure monitor, digital instrument cluster, auto-dimming mirror, cruise control and a lot more.One unique feature is that climate control of Kona enables you to channel air solely within the driver region. The Indian version of Kona comes with 39.2 KWh of battery, and under the hood, it holds a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor which can churn up 136hp, and manages a torque of 395Nm from the go.
The 2.8KW portable charger, provided by Hyundai, could fully charge the car in 19 hrs. We drove the Hyundai Kona EV on hustling, bustling roads of south Delhi. Uncanny silence fills up the cabin as I push the ignition button. In fact, when I got behind the wheel, the instrument cluster displayed a range of over 250km, which had me stumped. Every flex of the right foot is rewarded by Kona’s instant reaction without any delay.
As we moved on to the Aurobindo Marg I pushed the pedal to the metal, the car reached 100KMPH within no time. I was stunned by the acceleration, and I couldn’t help but break into a smile. The selectable levels of regenerative braking, adds range, aids braking performance and is fun. The brake pedal lacks feel & linearity, which takes some time getting used to. The brake pedal is especially wooden in sports-mode.Driving modes allow you to customize power delivery and while Eco mode is expectedly a little drab, Comfort mode does its job well. I switched to Sport, and the difference was apparent instantly as the amount of wheel spin surprised me pleasantly not just when taking off from standstill but also on the go! A hard press on the throttle around corners had the front tires chirp instantly accompanied by seriously quick acceleration, which isn’t something I was anticipating.
Around corners is also where I found that the weighted feel from the steering wheel was likable, though some more feedback would have been welcome. However, the steering did feel good when switching lanes quickly. The combination of the steering feel and strong punch from the motor, literally from the word go, allowed me to make rapid progress through the city traffic. Of course, I missed the growl of an internal combustion engine but Kona’s credit accelerate hard, and Kona greets you with a happy whine which sounds sporty enough. If you need a smart-looking secondary car for the urban commute, Hyundai Kona looks competent. The feel-good factor of being clean and green outweighs the missing elite class value. The case of Kona is further strengthened by the fact, that it is 100% electric and the range is ~300Kms.