Hyundai Kona is the first electric car from the South Korean manufacturer being launched in India. This is the only car that has a range of more than 400 kilometres which is quite a lot judging from the earlier cars that the other Indian manufacturers had come up in the past notably Mahindra REVA or the Mahindra e2o. Those cars had a range of merely 120 kilometre which was nowhere fascinating enough for customers to be attracted to the electric vehicles in India.
Hyundai is providing a thrilling driving experience with high acceleration over a long distance with its hundred-kilowatt motor that develops 136 horsepower with over 395 Newton-metre of torque right from the press of the throttle. Hyundai has 120 confirmed bookings in 15 selected dealerships across 11 cities in India. The Kona EV has already been an international success since launch in April 2018. Hyundai aims to touch the hearts of customers by providing them with a sense of security with a battery warranty of 8 years or 160,000 km. Hyundai claims that the new Kona runs at 1/5 the cost of Hyundai Creta petrol, so that’s at Rs. 1 per kilometre. Also with the fewer moving parts inside the engine one expects low maintenance cost as well. But all these features come at a premium price for which I believe that the Indian market might not be ready.
Highest range in the Indian market
Large cargo space
Class-leading warranty coverage
5-star NCAP rating
Cheap plastic components
Look similar to the current generation i20
Cannot be your everyday vehicle in India right now
The Hyundai Kona comes in two variants namely
Electric Premium Dual Tone
The Kona variants differ only in color, the specs for the entire car otherwise remains the very same. The Kona being the first offering from the Korean giant in the Indian market has a lot of expectations to be met. The Kona on its first glance looks futuristic with the sharp and muscular appeal that distinguishes it from the regular Hyundai vehicles look.
(Ex-Delhi) in INR
16-inch Alloys wheels
ABS ,EBD , ESC , VSM ( Vehicle Stability Management )
All 4 Disc Brakes
17.77cm Touchscreen Display Infotainment with Android Auto and Apple Play
Front Ventilated + Heated Seats
Smart Electric Sunroof
Auto Climate Control with Rear Ventillation Duct (under Front Seats)
Smart Key & Push Button Start/Stop
Paddle Shifters for Adjustable Regenerative Braking
To one's surprise, where one expects to find a popping and banging Combustion engine, you would be quite surprised that powering this modern marvel is a 100Kw Electric motor that is neatly tucked in. The 136 Hp all-electric motor in the Kona develops a mind-blowing torque of 395 Nm of torque right from a standstill. And all this power comes in a silent whine which is silent even when it is being pushed hard.
The car comes in 4 driving modes (Eco, Eco +, Comfort and Sport ) depending on the way you want to drive. Overtaking vehicles becomes effortless and smooth with just a gentle tap of the accelerator pedal and with a little more persuasion the car leaps forward with a surge that can even get your wheels spinning.
0-100kph acceleration time (claimed)
Hyundai Claims that the Kona can go from 0 - 100 Kmph in a respectable 9 sec. Which is quite commendable for a mid-size SUV, especially when we look at its kerb weight of 1539 kg. In tests, the hard launches of the vehicle were a little too much for the tyres and it had imminent tyre spin on several launches and was able to do the 0-100 in just 9.6 sec, however with the traction control switched on, the SUV manages to put down power in a very respectable manner which eventually allowed a time of 9.09 sec for the 0-100 test.
But a vehicle is not just measured by just the 0-100 figures, it’s more about how the car puts down the power in the midrange and daily scenarios which truly is the measure of the car’s actual performance. Here the Kona shines as you have loads of torque available at almost every speed, thanks to the torque from the electric motor.
When a car that has this much power available at hand with such ease, it should also be able to control that power, Hyundai has made sure that the car stops just as quickly as it accelerates. With Disc brakes on all four corners, the car manages to do the stopping just as well as it accelerates.
Like most electric vehicles, the Kona also uses regenerative braking. Energy harnessed from slowing down is stored to the battery. This feels similar to engine braking in a regular car, where the car starts to slow down when you lift your foot off the accelerator. The Kona additionally provides three levels of regeneration via paddle shifters on the steering wheel. However, in the maximum regeneration (level 3), the car’s deceleration is so strong that it feels like the brakes have been applied suddenly. This needs some time getting used to. Level 1 and 2 are more comfortable in the sense that they decelerate in a similar manner as most petrol or diesel cars. There’s a level 0 as well, for no regeneration. Holding on to the left paddle shifter also brings the car to a halt, allowing you to drive the car with just one pedal.
The Kona paced out really well in the corners and also at high speed. On tests, it churned out a max top speed of 160 kmph. The Suspension of the Kona is on the stiffer side as it has to carry that extra 320 kgs weight of the batteries. It took on the corners quite nicely and the steering could have been a touch stiffer and more feedback oriented. But then it is a city car so it doesn't need to be that sporty.
While the brake feel isn’t ideal in regeneration mode 2 or 3, it gets better as you reduce regenerative braking. Pedal feel actually gets less and less wooden and vague – which is a good thing. With regeneration on 0, you can actually trail brake into a corner quite effectively. The Kona Electric has an unladen ground clearance of 172mm, which is not that high but neither is it low enough to scrape easily on tall speed breakers.
It handled the small potholes and undulations reasonably well but when taken over a rough patch, the suspension kicks, and there is a fair amount of movement inside the cabin. Big potholes are taken with a sharp thud and you get tossed around inside as well. The multi-link rear suspension and the stiff chassis makes the car feel nice and planted around corners; the low centre of gravity resulting from the under-floor battery pack helps too. So, at speed, the Kona feels planted and stable.
Up until now, most electric could only manage up to 120 kms. But with the introduction of the new Kona, Hyundai has managed to triple the range, counting up to 452 kms on a single charge. Hyundai has equipped the Kona with a 39.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and it gets a 7.2 kW Ac wall charger that can fully charge the car in 6 hrs 10 mins. Hyundai is also providing an additional charger at an additional cost of somewhere between ? 70,000 to ? 1 lakh. The AC wall box charger can top up the charge in the vehicle for a range of 50 kilometres in just one hour. Finally, each Hyundai Kona Electric also gets a 2.8 kW portable charger, which can be directly plugged into your regular 15-ampere socket and it will take about 19 hours to fully charge the car after it is fully discharged. This charger can top up daily running of 50Kms in less than 3 hours.
The Kona if plugged into a standalone 50kW DC fast charger that uses a CCS Type 2 connector can charge the car from 0-80 percent in less than an hour. The fact that these types of fast charger facilities are almost negligible in the country, Hyundai has partnered up with Indian Oil Corporation to set up fast-charging stations at select retail outlets namely in cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai.
452km (ARAI)/289km (WLTP)
Charging time using normal AC charger
6hr 10min (at 7.2kW)
7hrs (at 7kW)
7hr 30min (at 6.6kW)
Charging time using fast DC charger
57min (up to 80%) (at 50kW)
40min (up to 80%) (at 50kW)
Approx. 60min (20-80%) (at 50kW)
Charging standard (AC/DC)
For using some of the electric chargers in malls, you will need to buy a type 2 charging cable with a male and female plug on either side. As of now, Hyundai isn’t providing these as part of its package, so you will need to buy it from third-party retailers or online portals.
Although ARAI have tested it to have a range of 452 kms under real-world scenarios, we found that it failed to reach the claimed range.On an average driving cycle, with an average speed of 17 kmph, the Kona managed to deliver a maximum range of 324 km. On the highways this figure dropped to a mere 295 which is quite disappointing. Usually, in the Combustion engine, we see a reverse trend, they usually do better on the highway. This is because of the gearing which helps in maintaining the efficiency better. In particular, tests are done, the vehicle was set to ECO mode and regenerative braking to level 3 but the climate control was switched on all the way.
My verdict is that with economy driving and proper use of regenerative braking, the 250-300 km mark is easily achievable.
Hyundai calls the Kona an SUV but it’s more of a crossover rather than a full-fledged SUV. Its cabin is sized more like a Creta that is a size bigger than the i20 Active. On the other hand, the Kona is quite loaded with Futuristic features like Slim LED daytime running lights, below which are the bi-functional LED projector headlights. Further, you have a sealed grille that helps channel the air in a better way, giving the Kona EV an overall drag coefficient of 0.29.
The grille also carries the CCS Type 2 charging port, so you can conveniently park head-on into the charging area parking slot. This plastic ‘grille’ is poorly constructed, though, and feels cheap. In profile, you can see a lot of body cladding over the flared wheel arches, especially in the rear, which adds to the Kona’s off-roader look. The slim LED tail-lamps mimic the look of the front DRLs and sit atop the big reversing light. It also has ORVM ( heated ) side mirrors.
Kerb weight (kg)
It gets the same MacPherson strut-type suspension up front and a sophisticated multi-link at the rear just like the combustion engine based Kona’s platform.
If you peek under the bonnet you will see an on-board charger (OBC) and an electric power control unit (EPCU) mounted on top of the electric motor. The on-board charger converts the external alternating current (AC) from your home power supply (wall charger) to direct current (DC) in order to charge the high-voltage battery placed under the floor. An inverter (a part of the EPCU) is responsible for converting the DC supply from the battery to AC and sending it to the electric motor, which generates torque to move the vehicle forward. Also, while decelerating, the electric motor actually spins in reverse and the otherwise wasted kinetic energy (created while slowing down mechanical energy) is converted into electrical energy. A separate 12V battery is used to power the Kona EV’s standard electronics, like infotainment, cabin lights and more.
The cabin size of the Kona isn’t as impressive that you expect out of an SUV but it is surely packed with features and comfort. Let’s talk about comfort. The SUV is equipped with front heated and Ventilated seats. While the driver is equipped with an adjustable 10-way control seat, the co-passenger is not so lucky all that electronics and attention. Getting in and out of the SUV isn’t difficult at all but you have to drop into the seats rather than just sliding into them. The front seats get full lumbar support.
Bridge-Type Center Console
Leather Wrapped Steering Wheel
Led Luggage Lamp
Rear Adjustable Headrests
Rear Split Seats 60:40
Soft Touch Dashboard
Front Ventilated Seats
10 Way Driver Adjustable Seat
Shift by Wire Transmission
Option of Driver Only Air Conditioning
Lots of storage space
The instrument cluster has a simple layout and is easy to read. There’s loads of useful information like range, battery charge, energy flow and different drive modes. On the left, you also have a real-time drive indicator that shows the amount of battery power is used when accelerating and the amount of energy recovered during regeneration.
The horizontal layout of the dashboard is pretty straightforward and doesn’t feel very exciting. Soft-touch plastics are few and the hard plastics don’t really give a premium feel. Neither do most of the buttons on the centre console and steering, though they do have a very nice tactile feel to them.
The Center Console of the Kona is occupied by the button shift-by-wire system and E parking brake with a nice armrest. There is also wireless charging on board which is really nice touch.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen has a crisp display and a very intuitive user interface. It doesn’t have built-in navigation but it gets Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both of which now support Google Maps. The touch sensitivity is also good and the screen is readable, even under direct sunlight.
EV Menu Screens
ECO driving Information
Power Consumption information section
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Connectivity
Surprisingly, it doesn’t get Hyundai’s Blue Link SIM card-based connectivity tech. However, it displays a lot of car information, like battery status, range, power consumption by various systems (including the motor), driving efficiency on previous trips, and even the reduction in CO2 emissions while driving as compared to a similar-sized conventional petrol-powered car! This isn’t very accurate, though. You can also control various charging aspects from the infotainment unit, like setting the percentage till which you want the battery to be charged or even set the appropriate charging current for AC chargers.
If you are primarily going to be chauffeur-driven, there’s not much to look forward to in the Kona, as this isn’t a particularly spacious car. In addition, the floor is placed higher due to the position of the battery below, resulting in a knees-up seating position. Legroom is sparse for tall passengers and there’s no space to slide your feet below the front seats due to the placement of the rear ventilation ducts underneath.
Also, at 332 litres, the boot space is only the size of a hatchback’s
Cargo Volume with rear seats up (Litres)
For an SUV, the 448-litres of boot space offered by the MG eZS seems to be more convenient as compared to that of the Kona. Not just that, even the Leaf has a better boot capacity on offer being a hatchback.
Although the Kona EV has not been crash-tested by the Global NCAP, the regular Kona did receive a 5-star safety rating at the Euro NCAP. The electric version uses advanced high-strength steel. While there is no engine, gearbox or fuel tank, the 39.2kWh, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion polymer battery pack sits on the floor – between the four wheels as well as under the rear seat – and added precautions are taken to ensure that there is minimum damage to it in case of a crash. The high-voltage battery is made up of 90 cells wired in series to provide a voltage output of 327V, and it is connected to the motor by high-voltage orange cables.
Electronic Stability Control
6 Airbags (Driver, Passenger, Front side and Curtain)
Vehicle Stability Management
Hill Start Assist
Virtual Engine Sound System (When Vehicle is in motion, it generates an engine sound to ensure pedestrian safety)
Electric vehicles (and the infrastructure to support them) are still in their infancy in India. Still, it’s clear that the Kona is easily the most complete EV to go on sale in India today. It has a powerful motor that provides good performance; and once you install your own charger at home, provided you can, the Kona Electric even becomes practical. The battery allows you to travel 250-300km between charges in the city and charging it costs next to nothing.