Silent Running: Hyundai Kona Electric Series 2 Review

Where electric cars are concerned, there are fewer names with a stronger heritage than the Hyundai Kona Electric. The first generation made waves for bringing the EV lifestyle to a much larger base of buyers and offering solid value at the same time. A tall order to follow! So, is the Kona Electric Series II up to the task?

The short answer is yes, now for the long answer! While the first generation Kona Electric tried to navigate the tightrope between looking either petrol car like or EV like, the second generation model is owning its fully electric identity. It offers some clear distinctions from the petrol version, in all departments.

Front view of the Hyundai Kona Electric Series 2
Let’s play spot the difference!

While the Kona retains its small SUV/crossover silhouette and looks mostly identical to its ICE counterparts, there are a few key differences with the electric model. At the front, the grille has been wiped away and replaced with a fluid bumper. Normally, a faceless car would be a little frightening but the Kona Electric pulls it off with a friendly demeanour. The charging point has also been moved to the front, further highlighting its electric status. It also solves the age old problem of remembering which side to park your car at the charging station! I’m not quite sure about this front mounted port as it may pose a risk in frontal impacts. Though, I wouldn’t doubt Hyundai’s safety record. They certainly know what they are doing!

Knowledge that is applied not only in the safety aspect of this car but also in its aerodynamic design. Just take a look at those wheels which are shaped to create the least drag possible while still offering ventilation for the brakes. Something that further adds to the dynamic prowess of the car is the battery pack, mounted low to reduce the car’s center of gravity. The more observant of you will have noticed that you can actually see the battery casing hanging slightly below the car’s side skirts, another giveaway of its electric powertrain!

Front view of the Hyundai Kona Electric Series 2
Faceless but friendly

Sharing design elements with the petrol Kona means that this electric model might blend into traffic but that opens up the ideal opportunity to flex your instant acceleration! Leaving ICE cars in the dust is one way the Kona Electric makes people take notice of it, the other is in the colour. This model came in a very pleasing Pulse Red, a shade that highlights the car’s smart lines and powertrain giveaways.

Interior view of the Hyundai Kona Electric Series 2
Distinct differences separate the electric from the petrol Kona

The interior on the other hand is one place that could do with a little more colour. Black plastic is the most abundant material in here with flashes of silver highlights to break it up. With this being my fourth Kona this year, one would have expected me to feel quite at home in the cabin. A statement that was true to a certain extent. The gauge cluster, infotainment screen, steering wheel and general dashboard layout are shared across the range.

However, things change when you glance at the centre console. The floating unit does away with a stick, replacing them with buttons for changing gears. Your phone is neatly tucked away from the driver’s eyes in a compartment that can be closed as well! Charging points are aplenty too with a couple hidden away at the bottom of the floating console. While this is still a pure EV, it maintains some of the car like aspects that drivers know and love. Including physical controls for the air conditioning! While you can regulate the temperature with buttons, the infotainment screen is not so hot. Feeling a little outdated compared to the rest of the Kona range, the screen still has everything you need but it’s not presented in the same theme that the newer Hyundai’s share.

Rear three quarters view of the Hyundai Kona Electric Series 2
Zero emissions mean you’ll find no chimneys on the Kona

Speaking of sharing, car manufacturers always face an interesting conundrum when it comes to retrofitting a traditionally ICE car with an electric powertrain. I’d say that Hyundai is one to have succeeded in this department. It still look and feels like a Kona, a compliment no doubt. There’s been no compromise in the interior space, boot space or even the range for that matter. With a 64kWhr battery and 484km on a full charge, the Kona has one of the best WLTP ratings of any electric car on the market. A seriously impressive feat!

That electric motor doesn’t just perform strongly when it comes to range, it also pushes out 150kW of power and 395Nm of torque. Figures that mean you have the ability to surprise other drivers with your acceleration, albeit quietly. Combining that sort of power with a battery pack also means that the Kona Electric is confident through the corners. While its 205mm width tires don’t tend to like the twisty roads in the wet, they offer plenty of comfort for commutes.

Electric badge on the Hyundai Kona Electric Series 2

The Verdict

If you are in the market for an electric car, the Kona Electric Series 2 should be a frontrunner for your money. It’s not just an ICE car with a battery. Being a small SUV means the car body has the room to accommodate all those batteries and a motor without compromising on room. And with a range of 484km, there’s not much sacrifice there either. A package made so much sweeter when you throw in the clean car discount!

With that, my love affair with the Hyundai Kona comes to an end for this year. If you are in the market for one, make sure to also check out my reviews of the Kona N-Line, Kona N and Kona Elite.

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric Series 2: 4/5

Thanks for reading! For more Hyundai news and reviews, check out Tarmac Life.

Words and pictures by Matthew D’Souza. Car courtesy of Hyundai Motors New Zealand.

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