The Hyundai Kona Electric

(Originally published in Boundless Magazine, June 2019)

Jim Dunlop test-drove a Hyundai Kona Premium SE. Currently he drives an Audi Q2.

“After many months of research and a short test drive in a Kia e-Niro, I decided that if I was serious about converting to electric driving, I needed to live with an EV for a couple of days. Courtesy of West Riding Motors in Colne, Lancashire, I picked up a top-spec Hyundai Kona Premium SE and agreed with the dealer that I could make a trip to Glasgow. I travel there from Burnley on a regular basis as my daughter lives there and I follow Celtic as often as I can.

“Having discussed the EV situation with my wife and friends, they are all very negative; “not sure, range, cost”, but I think all of the negatives can be overcome with a bit of effort. At the outset, the decision to opt for a fully electric car needs plenty of research. The detailed research I undertook certainly paid off and other than a couple of minor hiccups along the way, any major concerns simply did not materialise.”

“Prior to setting off for my home city, the dealer had topped the battery up and the dash was reading 258 miles of range. Leaving home after some running around the reading was 252. The satnav was calculating the trip at 207 miles, so, in theory, we had around 45 miles to spare. Had we had a Pod Point at home, we would have topped up before leaving. The claimed range is 278 miles. More of this later.

“I currently drive an Audi Q2 making a comparison with the Kona relatively easy. The basic platform is similar and frankly, I couldn’t really see much difference in build quality. Some of the plastic interior features in the Kona were of a lower quality than the Audi, but certainly not a deal breaker. The Kona was very high spec with leather heated and ventilated seats and interior space was similar to the Q2.

“We do a fair bit of UK and European travel and luggage space is important to us. On longer journeys, it tends to be just me and my wife so overall space is judged on that basis. The photograph shows the boot with 2 hold (20kg each) cases and 2 carry-ons (10kg each). In addition there is room below the boot floor for a smaller bag.”

The Hyundai Kona battery range

“Ready to depart, I set the mode to “ECO” rather than comfort or sport to gauge the range. As I reversed off the drive, I’m convinced my wife’s range anxiety had already kicked in! Apart from a few miles at home and on arrival in Glasgow, the drive was totally on motorways. First impressions of the car is that it is very comfortable and quiet. On the motorway, it is possible to set a fair level of autonomy with “smart” cruise control and lane keep assist. I tried both out and they work well although after about a minute, it tells you to put your hands back on the steering wheel! I gave the accelerator a bit of a belt leaving Southwaite on the slip road and acceleration is pretty fierce, if that’s your thing.

“We stopped for a short break at Southwaite services, (106 miles into the journey), and the range to satnav difference was 101 miles meaning the “comfort zone” had dropped from 45 to 22 miles. Around 50 miles from Glasgow, the dash warned that the journey could not be completed without a fill up. Generally, people are probably unaware of the fact that many of the public charging points in Scotland are free to use. All that is needed is a ChargePlace Scotland card, which costs £20 per annum, and the rapid charger at Abington village is on the scheme. I plugged in for 15 minutes and added 80 miles to the range. My research had helped enormously at this point. A minor detour of a few hundred yards into Abington village saved the day.

“I believe Tesla already shows charge points on its satnavs, and Kia has its UVO system accessed via smartphone, which has charging points on the app. Hyundai don’t, and I suspect they are not alone (NOW UPGRADED). It would be very useful if all electric cars had something like a “Zap Map overlay” on their navigation screens.

“Based on a rough calculation, I missed out on a non-stop journey by around 12 miles. With a charge point at home, one may have been twitching slightly, but it could have been done non-stop. I think that the range was more around 210 – 220 miles in the real world on that kind of trip.”

Charging the Hyundai Kona

“Around 500 metres from my daughter’s apartment in Glasgow, the multi-storey car park has a bank of seven chargers, three of which are 50kW. That evening I charged to car to 80%, (189 miles) in 45 minutes for the princely sum of a £2 parking fee.

“The following day, we travelled to Edinburgh and drove around with three adults and a baby in a baby seat. The shorter journeys were a mix of town and motorway driving and in the end we had 50 miles of range left. Another trip to the car park that evening took the range to 183 miles for the trip back. I knew this would not be enough so another fill up at Abington was the order of the day.

“The trip back involved a change of route to see if that made any difference to the range. We left the M6 at J36 and crossed country via Kirkby Lonsdale and on this section of the journey; here the range actually increased by 15 miles due to the type of driving and lower speeds, I suspect. It also gave me the opportunity to use the regenerative braking paddles on the steering wheel, which helped to increase the range.

“There are a couple of issues that may throw a bit of negativity into the equation. I have never owned a car with heated seats/steering wheel before and I really don’t know whether or not they are really necessary. The outside temperature was between 5 and 7 degrees during the trip and the aircon wasn’t used. I wonder how their use would impact on the claimed range.”

A Hyundai Kona as a family car: the verdict

“In conclusion, would I buy an electric car? The answer is most definitely yes. I accept that they are more expensive to buy, but three years of savings on fuel, RFL and servicing, by my calculation, gets the car down to the ICE equivalent. It’s more difficult to give up our second car and embrace the concept of becoming a one car, greener family. And it’s good to know we’d be doing a wee bit for the environment to boot.”

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