The Hyundai Kona EV is quite simply the electric avatar of Hyundai's hit compact SUV - the Kona. The Kona was not destined for India as it was primarily designed for Europe and the US (also because we get the Creta instead). But Hyundai had decided a few months ago that we would get the electric version - and hence the Hyundai Kona EV is ready to roll on our roads. The car comes with two electric drivetrains - a 39.2 kWh and a 64 kWh battery version. We are getting the smaller one for India. And even though the larger battery gives you a longer range of close to 500 kilometres, most global reports put the smaller battery range at 312 kms.
Hyundai Kona Electric Mileage
However, Hyundai India now says that the smaller capacity battery boasts of a range of 452 kilometres, a claim that's ARAI certified. The car I tested was the higher output version, but they have a similar mechanical setup - in terms of steering, suspension, etc. The Kona EV (39.2) has a power output of 131 bhp and a whopping 395 Nm of peak torque - available of course from word go.
Hyundai Kona Design
The Kona EV is attractive - and yet the face shouts its alternate status. The styling is very much in-line with the ICE counterpart, but while that car gets the wide 'cascade' grille, the Kona EV does not. Instead it has a body-coloured bumper rising to the hood, with an embedded pattern that mimics a front grille - somewhat. It is still very modern looking, and the taillights and rear end are especially good looking. The proportion is also spot on and the car looks every bit the modern crossover most people want to but.
Hyundai Kona Interior
On the inside styling is more like a 'regular' car - and while some may scoff at that I think the more regular things appear the better the acceptance for a car that is all-new in its logic under the skin. There are displays that tell you driving range, and power status on the battery - but otherwise the cabin is just like a regular car's as I said. There is a pop-up plastic screen above the instrument binnacle, which gives you optional head-up display. This is similar to the ones in MINIs. The seats are comfortable, rear legroom is surprisingly good, though not generous. The infotainment options in that touchscreen are ample and you will not be left wanting on connectivity, nav or music.
Also Read: Hyundai Kona Price Expectation
Also Read: Hyundai Kona Compact SUV: First Drive Review
The car handles quite well too. The battery sends power to the 100 kW electric motor, which in turn powers the front wheels. There is no AWD Kona EV, and frankly I don't see the need for one. As with many EVS these days there are different degrees of regenerative braking that can be adjusted using the paddle shifters. The most aggressive is easy to get used to, and lets you indulge in single-pedal driving quite comfortably. The car's steering is pretty good, and it's eager for action overall. The Kona EV will zip in and out of corners quite well, with no sense of body roll. The front end is sharp, and in many ways I enjoyed driving the Kona EV more than the 1.6 T-GDI petrol model I had driven last year. The car's instant torque is such fun, and it never backs off from instantly launching ahead - even when you are driving in Eco mode. Though I have to say - while it's not dull - the Eco mode is not for me! While the steering is precise, I'd have liked it to be a bit stiffer - especially in sport mode.
Comfort mode is a good enough place to be - to achieve good ride quality, quick response, and yet not drain the battery too quickly. In real-world (read Indian) conditions, expect range to be around 280 kms. But think about how that is also quite a solid number - and even with long rush-hour jams, the Kona EV is not impractical. Will potential electric car owners always suffer from range anxiety? Yes - I am one of those still. But anything over 200 kilometres in range puts you comfortably within charging options - since Hyundai's showrooms or workshops will offer the facility too. Customers will be provided with a portable charger or an AC wall box charger. The portable charger will be able to plug into any three-pin 15 Amp socket and charge for a top up to 50 km in less than three hours. The 7.2 kW wall box charger can top up the vehicle within one hour of running up to 50 km. On a fast charger, you can achieve an 80 per cent charge in 50 minutes. Hyundai is also collaborating with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) in four cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru - to set up changing stations with fast chargers in select fuel stations.
To try and encourage the early adoption of this EV - Hyundai has done two important things The Kona EV is being assembled in Chennai at a new EV-specific assembly line that Hyundai invested in earlier this year. This cuts out the crippling import duty costs a fully built car would have entailed. The second thing is what sources within the company have shared with me - that it will take a bit of a hit on the final cost to further enhance the price value equation. Hyundai has priced the Kona electric at ₹ 25.30 lakh (ex-showroom India) and if you want a dual tone option then you have to spend ₹ 20,000 more. This is an introductory price though but given its EV status is fairly competitive. Yes it's Creta sized, but it is also a huge leap - taking you into true electric mobility, without compromising the performance, design, features or usability. That's something most electrics we have encountered in India have been unable to do. I accept that it will still not sell in massive volume, and anything above ₹ 25 lakh would make that even more meagre.
The recent recommendation from the Union Finance Minister to the GST council (to reduce taxes on electric cars) will further help the cause of electric cars in India. I am with those who believe the same must be extended to plug-in hybrids too. But that's separate story. Back to the Kona then. As a first step from a mass manufacturer like Hyundai, the Kona EV is credible, competitive, comfortable and very capable. Test drive one when they get to the showrooms. If not to buy, at least to experience that electric cars can be fun, and can be - dare I say - 'normal'.