The Hyundai Kona Electric is good enough to be your only car

The key is its range
by Paul Horrell | Sep 9, 2018
PHOTO: TopGear.com

Just been driving the Hyundai Kona Electric. It’s a step-change in the argument for electric cars in Britain. To see why, draw yourself a mental EV Venn diagram.

One oval is labeled ‘long range’. That’s occupied by the Teslas S and X, and the Jaguar I-Pace, and very soon the Mercedes EQ and Audi E Tron. In the second oval, the affordable EVs. That’s the Nissan Leaf, VW e-Golf, the BMW i3. The third oval, often forgotten, is fast-chargeable. Which is all the above.

Now, in a country denied the Chevy Bolt permanently and the base-model Tesla Model 3 for a long time to come, only one car sits in the Venn intersection: The Kona. Road-trippable, tick. Chargeable, tick. Affordable, tick. And because it’s a crossover, you could even call it fashionable.

It’s half the price of the Jaguar, yet goes as far on a charge. And because it uses less energy to do the distance than the Jag, it’ll charge faster on the 50kW DC outlets cropping up at service stations all over the country.

Crossover it may be, but I’m not daft enough to posit it as a perfect substitute for a Model X or I-Pace. It might accelerate with quite some vim, but that acceleration is made all the more striking by the lack of traction and overabundance of torque steer. It writhes like a '90s chipped turbo hot-hatch. That’s because it’s only FWD, because it’s cheap. Also it’s only a fraction as roomy as the Tesla and Jaguar. Because it’s small. Because, again, it’s cheap.

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My point is its near-483km WLTP range (I got 402 driving normally) is a rule-breaker for affordable EVs. Probably even more important than for non-affordable EVs actually. See, if you buy some fancypants premium electric crossover, your household will doubtless have the means to own a second car. Just take that when you’re going somewhere beyond the reach of on-the-go charging.

On the other hand the Kona is in the price bracket where it might be your only car. Which means it’s gotta do only-car things. Not just overnight-charged daily commuting, which is well within the purview of the Leaf and suchlike, but also the odd long trip.

Now you can argue that because rapid DC chargers are now to be found at all expressway service stations and many other places. Besides, most destinations are within reach of a 241km electric car. Sorry, but no.

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PHOTO: TopGear.com
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