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First Drive Report - Hyundai Kona Electric

  • Aug 21, 2019
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The Hyundai Kona EV is India’s first long-range electric vehicle. Priced at Rs 25.30 lakh (ex-shwroom India), the Hyundai Kona Electric offers the best of both worlds - green tech and a long range. At this price point, you could buy the Jeep Compass, MG Hector, Tata Harrier or even the Hyundai Tucson. So apart from the electric car technology, does it offer something that its rivals don’t?


 


Exterior


 



  • In dimensions, the Kona EV lies somewhere between the sub-4 metre Hyundai Venue and the mid-sized Hyundai Creta. It is longer, wider and has a bigger wheelbase than the Venue; however, the Venue is 20mm taller than the Kona.

  • When compared to the dimensions of Creta, the Kona is wider and has a bigger wheelbase, but falls short on length and height.

  • What will catch your eye in the Kona EV are two factors - the quirky exterior styling and the rarity of the car on the roads.

  • The faux front grille, the chunky 17-inch alloy wheels and the black body cladding extended to the rear fender make it look interesting.

  • The car also gets a headlamp setup that is similar to the Venue, with LED projector headlights mounted in the bumper and the LED DRLs up top.


 


Interior


 



  • Being a Hyundai, the interior is top-notch, and all the controls are easy to use. 

  • The driving position is a little too low for an SUV, but the overall visibility is great. The driver seat’s height can however be an issue for tall drivers.

  • The rear cabin space is on par with some premium hatchbacks, but not even close to what its rivals offer.

  • The rear seat lacks under-thigh support as the seat base is close to the floor.

  •  It has a boot space of 334 litres, which is a lot less than what its rivals offer. The similarly priced Tucson offers 530 litres of boot space.


 


Tech


 



  • The Kona EV is only available in one fully loaded variant.

  • It gets features like a driver AC-only mode (to consume less power when there are no other passengers in the car), a smart key with push-button start, cruise control and an electronic sunroof.

  • The Kona comes with heated and ventilated leatherette seats.

  • It has a wireless charging pad, steering mounted audio & phone controls, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto paired with a 6 speaker music system.

  • Other features include heated wing mirrors, auto-dimming IRVM, tilt and telescopic adjustment for steering, LED cabin lights, and three adjustable headrests for the rear passengers, along with the two at the front.

  • It misses out on rear AC vents and Hyundai’s BlueLink technology, but feature-wise it’s on par with its similarly priced rivals.


 


Performance


 



  • Electric cars deliver torque instantly, and the Kona is no different. Put your foot down the pedal and all the 395Nm of torque is served instantly. 

  • Pushing the pedal down on the Kona is like pushing the joystick ahead on a remote control car. The acceleration is directly linked to how much you press the pedal.

  • The Kona has a claimed 0-100kmph time of 9.7 seconds.

  • The only outside noise that you’ll hear inside the cabin of the Kona EV is the sound of the tyres. The ride is extremely smooth because of the absence of engine sound.

  • It has four drive modes, namely - Eco, Eco+, Sport and Comfort.

  • The Kona also gets paddle shifters, but they do not control the gearbox. Instead, they manage the intensity of the brake energy regeneration system.

  • There are 3 levels of intensity to choose from, which are similar to engine braking. So instead of wasting energy by generating friction by braking, the wheels are used to charge up the battery. Rest assured, it is not jerky or very intense even at its highest setting.

  • Internationally, the Kona EV is available with two battery options - a 39.2kWh battery with a 100kW electric motor, and a bigger 64kWh battery with a 150kW electric motor. India gets the smaller battery which has a claimed range of 345km as per the European rating.

  • The reason why the Indian-spec Kona gets a range of 452km compared to the European rated claimed range of 345km is because of the difference in testing method. The New European Driving Cycle method includes top speed testing at 120kmph, while the ARAI method does the same at not more than 50kmph. Hence, the difference in claimed range.


 


Ownership experience


 



  • The battery is IP67 waterproof rated, hence it is completely sealed from dust and employs liquid cooling. As there is no exhaust, there is no risk of water seeping in. If the water level rises to a risky level, the electric motor automatically shuts off to prevent electrocution.

  • However, that does not mean you can take your Kona EV swimming with you. Don’t take your Kona to places that you won’t be taking your hatchback or sedan to.

  • There are three methods to charge your Kona EV - a 50kW DC Fast Charger, a 7.2kW AC wallbox charger,  and a 2.8kW Portable Charger.

  • DC Fast Chargers will be set up at select Hyundai dealerships & service centers. Hyundai has also partnered with IOCL to set up charging points at Indian Oil petrol pumps around the metro cities. It will give you an 80 per cent charge in 57 minutes.

  • The AC wallbox charger will be set up at your residence, which will fully charge the battery in 6 hours & 10 minutes. An hour’s charging will give you a range of 50km. Hyundai will install this charger free of cost. If you live in an apartment complex, you will need a dedicated parking spot.

  • The portable charger can be plugged into a 3 pin 15 amp charge point, and will take 19 hours to fully charge the battery.

  • Hyundai claims the average running cost of Kona EV is 1/5th of an equivalent petrol or diesel car.

  • A short road trip can be managed in your Kona EV, however as the AC wallbox charger cannot be carried, you either have to rely on DC Fast Chargers or the portable charger.

  • Hyundai is offering 3 years/unlimited km warranty with the Kona EV. The battery pack gets an 8 year/1,60,000km warranty.


 


Safety


 



  • Hyundai Kona gets 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX, vehicle stability management, electronic stability program and traction control as standard. 

  • It also comes equipped with hill start assist, rear parking sensors and camera, auto headlamps and tyre pressure monitoring system.


 


The Kona offers better noise insulation, a smoother driving experience and is on par on features with its rivals. However, considering the price point, it does not offer the cabin space, practicality or bad-road ability that similarly priced SUVs do. As a daily commuter, the Kona makes sense if you already have other car(s) at home. Considering the fact that the Kona EV is the first electric car in India to offer a long range, it is a car that sets a benchmark for electric vehicles to come. Along with that, it also gives you the bragging rights of owning one of the first long-range EVs in India.

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