Last year we drove the gas-powered Kona and came away nicely impressed, but really wondered what the EV version would be like – after all that was the one we were REALLY interested in. With the lease on our vehicle ending soon, we’re legitimately looking to get a new car and we’re both excited about the EV revolution. With so many new EV’s arriving in 2020 it’s going to be a feast of options, but the almighty dollar (budget) is most likely going to be the deciding factor in the end.
Unless you’ve properly researched EV’s the first thing that’s going to hit you is everyone banging on about “Range Anxiety”, “Not enough charging stations” or the grid can’t handle it. BUNK to all those objections – maybe 10 years ago… Check out my EV articles When Do You Think You’ll Be Buying Or Leasing An Electric Vehicle? and HERE
However, there’s one factor that sometimes get overlooked: the range drops dramatically in the cold weather. This is true, so vehicles can lose as much as 50% of its range while the heater and wipers are on AND the temperature drops. Well, that sounds like a challenge to me! I booked a Kona EV for the middle of November – traditionally we get the first big snowstorm on or around the 15th. If all goes to plan we’ll have a challenging week ahead…
- Small Electric CUV
- Front Wheel Drive
- Three available models: Essential, Preferred and Ultimate
- 415km All-Electric Range
- 150kW Electric motor + 64kWh lithium-ion polymer high-voltage battery
- Single-speed direct drive with Shift-by-Wire mode selector
How Does It Look?
- I like the look of the Kona. The EV version is slightly different from the traditional gas version – that’s either good or bad depending on your perspective. Do you want to blend in or not?
- The EV Ultimate model comes with a two-tone body colour with dark charcoal lower cladding and wheel wells
- Very attractive 17-inch Alloy Wheels
- To differentiate it from the gas-powered version, the EV gets unique front bumper, grille, and special wheels that reduce aerodynamic drag
- Driver’s position is near-perfect with a very good sightline all around and a very comfortable entry/exit
- The seats are quite firm and comfortable but kinda flat, so it doesn’t really encourage sporty driving
- The 8-way power driver’s seat with 2-way lumbar adjustment is very comfortable, but unfortunately lacks any type of memory feature which is a disappointment
- 4-way adjustable passenger seat
- I liked the nice large high screen that sits right within eyesight – thankfully this is becoming the norm and really helps when driving at highway speeds
- Adjustable 8″ Head-Up Display– this is one of the better ones I’ve used
- The dashboard and centre console are good… and bad. I wasn’t sold on the early Y2K silver accents – I had flashbacks to Dodge and Chrysler interiors circa 2007
- 25” color touchscreen navigation is a BIG improvement on the gas version that has an 8″ touch-screen
- Placement of the buttons for the heated seats, wheel Drive Mode etc. is extremely awkward and you have to take your eyes off the road for a considerable amount of time to find the button and press it – FAIL. They should have been up close to the storage bin area near the climate system. Speaking of…
- In order to use the climate system you have to find/push the “climate” button. It’s not intuitive or easy to operate PLUS the buttons are backwards – fan speed off to the right, temp on the left close to the driver AND the dials are perpetual rotates, there’s not max/min – FAIL
- We both HATED the transmission buttons/shift. It looks nice and easy at first glance, but it’s completely confusing and frustrating to use – FAIL
- To save battery juice, the car interior can be set to heat or cool only the driver
- Heat Pump System and Battery Heating (warming) system not available on the Essential model – why is this important? When driving through the cold weather, the heat pump system aids in reducing the loss of electric driving range by absorbing the external heat energy and converts it into cabin heat
- The Infinity Premium Audio with Clari-fi Music Restoration Technology & 8 speakers is very good
- Cargo capacity, rear seats up 544 L (19.2 cu-ft), rear seats down 1,296 L (45.8 cu-ft)
So How Quick Is It & How Does It Handle?
- If you’ve never driven an EV, the first thing you notice is the instant torque, and the Kona doesn’t disappoint
- Turning radius is VERY good – so good it actually got my attention the first time I had to park it or turn around
- Steering input is very good and the weight is just right
- Three drive modes: comfort, eco and sport
- Comfort and Eco modes are very similar (I didn’t like how the dash setup change in Eco though)
- Driving along, I switched to Sport mode and HOLY $hit!! Was the first thing out of my mouth – what a HUGE difference! The fun factor went from 9 to 12 instantly
- Handling is very good – the suspension is firm-ish but soaks up bad roads with aplomb
- Even with all-season tires in the snow, it was fun to drive and grip was terrific. It felt like it was AWD – that’s how well-planted it is in the snow
What Does It Cost? For up-to-date pricing visit: www.hyundaicanada.com
Base pricing starts at $44,999
Test Vehicle: Ultimate, As Tested: $52,999
- Range is rated at 415 kms, but depending on how you drive and the weather that is subject to being the same – or much lower
- 9 Hrs Charge Time @ 220/240V and
- 25 Hrs Charge Time @ 440V
- Using a regular 120V plug, 12 hours got me 78 kms of range and 24 hours got me 166 kms of range in -10° overnight temperatures
- Basic: 5 years/100,000 kms
- Powertrain: 8 years/160,000 km
- Roadside Assistance: 5 years/100,000 km
Special Rebates On EV’s
Depending on where you live, the Government grants can be quite good and make it far more affordable. Unfortunately in Ontario, the grants have been removed, but hey – we can drive in the useless HOV lanes at below the speed limit behind white knuckle gramps and his lovely bride of 65 years – that’s a bonus, right?
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
- The Good: It’s an EV – a blast to drive and you refuel from your driveway
- The Bad: There are a TON of Kona’s in my neck-of-the-woods and you can’t drive a couple of hundred metres before seeing one or more (not Hyundai’s fault obviously)
- The Badder: Keyless entry requires you to press the button on the door handle to lock/unlock the door – it’s a little thing, but when you are used to just touching the door handle it becomes a big thing. Also no driver’s seat memory
- The Ugly: See Noteworthy Standard Features section – plenty of complaints there…
- The REALLY Ugly: Lane Keeping Assist System – was switched on when I picked up the Kona and after 2 minutes of using it – I switched it off. HORRIBLE waste of effort including this in the Kona.
What’s The Verdict?
The Kona EV is a welcome addition to the fast-growing electric vehicle options we’re now getting. It’s the perfect size for about town, and also for highway driving. At a projected range of 415 kilometres you can pretty much forget about range anxiety. I started my week with the Kona at only ½ full and drove 67 kms. I got to my destination at -2°C toasty warm and the gauge said I still had a range of 185 kms. Leaving it in the driveway overnight in the middle of a snowstorm cost me just 3 kms of range. That was quite impressive considering I was expecting a BIG drop in rage due to the cold.
I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Kona EV. Once people get to experience it for themselves there will be no turning back to regular ICE vehicles once the prices come down closer to parity (probably around 2023-2025). Is it worth paying extra right now? I say yes if you can swing the payments. No more going to the gas station and the only maintenance is wiper blades and tires for the first 3 years or so. With warranties in the 8+ year range, there is no fear of getting stuck with a dud battery (Tesla just announced 1 MILLION mile warranty on the Model3 battery!!)
Would I buy one? Nope.. There are just too many complaints and idiosyncrasies that are just not acceptable on ANY car in 2020. The gas version is much better and is $20,000 cheaper. A Tesla Model3 is only a couple of thousand more.
Copyright © 2020 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland