The all-new Kona Electric -- Hyundai Motor’s latest all-electric compact sport utility vehicle -- is looking to lure customers with a roomier interior, longer driving range and sound riding experience.
The South Korean automaker on Tuesday held a test drive event for local journalists to ride the Kona EV over a 172-kilometer-long course beginning from Hanam, Gyeonggi Province and ending in Sokcho, Gangwon Province.
At first glance, the all-electric SUV did not appear too “compact.” It looked rather sizable. One of the biggest changes in the revamp was its size -- the length comes at 4,355 millimeters, 175 mm longer than the previous generation in 2017, as well as the 60 mm longer wheelbase of 2,660 mm, 25 mm wider at 1,825 mm and the 20 mm taller height at 1,575 mm.
The exterior and interior design echoed Hyundai Motor’s recent trend of a futuristic, dynamic impression. The vehicle featured pixelated, seamless horizon LED headlamps with sculpted wheel arch armor and parametric surfaces between the aerodynamic nose and tailgate, adding more character.
The floating horizontal crash pad with a dual 12.3-inch panoramic display screen in the driver’s seat emphasized the Kona Electric’s futuristic design. The entirely foldable second-row seats and trunk offered improved loading convenience, providing up to 466 liters of cargo space. Despite the large loading space, the legroom in the rear seat did not look like it would be comfortable for three adults for long drives.
The overall riding experience was pleasant and balanced. Once the car was on the highway, the acceleration and steering were powerful and stable. The handling of high-speed riding felt smooth with intact body control and firm road holding.
The car had a 92 percent battery before The Korea Herald reporter hit the road as the front display screen showed the remaining driving range at 393 km. After the 200-minute test drive that included two stops and covered a distance of 169.3 km, the car’s battery was down to 48 percent with a remaining driving range of 192 km. The electric efficiency ended up at 6 km per kWh.
Throughout the drive, the reporter enjoyed the smart regenerative system that automatically adjusted the amount of regenerative braking based on the information from the traffic flow ahead. Combined with the i-PEDAL driving mode that allows drivers to accelerate, decelerate and stop using only the accelerator pedal, the smart regenerative system helped the driver minimize the use of the brake pedal.
According to Hyundai Motor, Kona Electric’s maximum driving distance per charge is 417 km under the standards of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Using a fast-charger, the vehicle’s 64.8 kilowatt-hour battery can be charged from 10 percent to 80 percent in 43 minutes.
The car is equipped with the vehicle-to-load, or V2L, function to allow powering and charging any electric device or equipment through outlets available both inside and outside.
Although the price of the Kona Electric begins at 47 million won ($36,000), the actual purchase cost is likely to be in the low to mid-30 million won after local and central government subsidies are applied. Hyundai Motor plans to begin sales of the electric SUV in Europe and the US in the second half of this year.