Hyundai Australia has announced the arrival of the company’s first fully-electric SUV to our shores, and despite looking very much like the usual Kona crossover you’ve already seen in showrooms, this version boasts some impressive stats even for an EV, putting the South Korean automaker’s contender within punching distance of Tesla buyers.
The Kona Electric boasts a sizeable 64kWh lithium polymer battery that, thanks to its relative light weight and single-motor configuration, is quoted to have a real-world range of 449km according to WLTP estimates. However, its $59,990 price tag might be a tough pill to swallow for those who have preconceived notions about price-boxing a Hyundai.
By comparison, the combustion-powered Kona range starts at around the $25k mark, though when comparing it to spec-for-spec competitors like the second-generation Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 won’t be entering the Australian market until some time in latter 2019.
Meanwhile, its sibling within the Hyundai portfolio, the IONIQ electric, gets outclassed by the Kona in nearly every measure. For one, its 28kWh battery is less than half its size, and it’s 88kW electric motor can’t match the 150kW unit in the crossover. As a result, the hatch can only manage around 230km of range.
On paper, then, the Kona is in a class of one and needs to convince buyers on its own merits alone. Offering buyers a unique product at a comparatively appropriate, if still expensive, price point.
Available in Elite and Highlander grade, the Kona Electric is equipped with a 7.2kW on-board charger that allows recharging from a household socket via its supplied In-Cable Control Box, needing 9 hours and 35 minutes. However, when plugged into a 100kW DC fast-charger, it requires just 54 minutes to refill the battery to 80 percent capacity.
Hyundai calls the zero emissions crossover ‘surprisingly sporty’, and while we shrug at prospect of it evoking any spirited driving, the immediate delivery of 395Nm from its 150kW electric motor drives the front wheels with enough urgency to propel it to 100km/h in a respectable 7.6 seconds while top speed is 167km/h. Prior to its launch, the car underwent numerous testing sessions in and around Sydney, after all, and we’d wager it would be unbeatable at zipping around the urban sprawl.
Handling and grip might be hampered by its thinner low roll resistance tyres and comfort-tuned suspension, but there’s no doubting the low centre of gravity and planted feel afforded by having the battery array floor-mounted.
Both variants of the Kona Electric also receive Hyundai’s SmartSense safety suite as standard, which adds active pre-collision features such as Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Forward Collision Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Warning (Highlander), Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Smart Cruise Control.
The centrally-mounted 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system has also been altered to accommodate EV-specific functions while still retaining the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity options and a 10-years of live traffic updates from SUNA. An 8-speaker Infinity audio system is also standard - a generous touch. Though, Qi wireless smartphone charging is only given to the pricier Highlander.
Other niceties reserved for the range-topper include a glass sunroof, heated and ventilated electric seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, high beam assist, and full LED headlights and taillights.
“We’re excited to bring long-range, eco-friendly electrified driving within reach of everyone with the stylish Kona Electric small SUV,“ Hyundai Motor Company Australia CEO, JW Lee said.
“It is Hyundai’s intention to establish leadership for eco cars in Australia. We have demonstrated that with IONIQ and now Kona Electric, with the NEXO hydrogen-powered SUV to follow once suitable infrastructure is developed.
“Kona Electric’s unique, fun styling, packaged with advanced standard safety and connectivity features make for a highly appealing and affordable zero-emissions package,” Mr. Lee said.