Hyundai was an early entrant into the Australian electric vehicle market when they launched the original Hyundai Ioniq sedan in 2018 and followed that with the Kona Electric in 2019. The Kona Electric remains reasonably popular today, sitting just outside the top 10 in terms of sales.
The Kona Electric was basically an electric version of an existing petrol car, although it received a facelift in 2021 which modified exterior styling and increased the WLTP driving range from 449 km to 484 km for the extended range version. A cheaper standard range version with 305 km range was also introduced during 2021.
Hyundai has now released the second generation Kona Electric and this one is based on a new EV-led design. The new Kona addresses many of the shortcomings of the previous generation, increases range and includes sought after features such as vehicle to load (V2L).
It even comes with a space saver spare wheel, which is rare among electric vehicles.
The new generation Kona is slightly larger on the outside at 150 mm longer, 25mm wider and 10 mm taller with a 60 mm longer wheelbase. Larger exterior dimensions along with Hyundai’s EV-led design have improved interior space, comfort and utility in several key areas.
Extended range variants are now officially rated for towing up to 750 kg braked, 300 kg unbraked and handle up to 100 kg maximum tow ball weight. Hyundai says the Kona Extended Range comes pre-wired for towing, making the towbar and wiring fitment seamless.
Hyundai Kona Electric is available in three variants. The entry level Kona Electric Standard Range is fitted with a 48.6 kWh battery and offers up to 370 km WLTP range. Next up is the Kona Electric Extended Range with a 64.8 kWh battery offering up to 505 km WLTP range.
For those looking for additional comfort and features, the Kona Electric Premium comes with the same 64.8 kWh extended range battery but only manages 444 km WLTP range due to larger and less efficient 19 inch wheels.
Pricing for the new generation Kona starts $500 below the previous generation with the Standard Range selling for $54,000 plus on-road costs. The base Extended Range variant is also $2,500 less than it was previously, now $58,000 plus on-road costs.
However, the top-spec Kona Electric Premium is $4,000 dearer than the equivalent Highlander Extended Range from the previous generation, starting from $68,000 plus on-road costs.
More storage space, less ground clearance
Exterior design of the new generation Kona Electric is a mix between smooth, rounded front and rear ends with a contrasting angular crease through both side doors that reminds me of the Ioniq 5. Hyundai’s pixelated design elements from the Ioniq 5 and 6 EVs also feature heavily in the Kona Electric.
The previous Kona Electric did not have any storage space under the bonnet, whereas the new generation comes with a 27 L frunk or froot. It is small and slightly inconvenient to access but at least provides enough space for charging cables and adapters that might be needed for the occasional road trip.
Boot space in the Kona Electric has also grown to 407 L with the rear seats in place or 1241 L with the seats folded down. The unique space saver spare wheel and necessary tools for changing the wheel can be found under the boot floor as well.
While looking underneath a Kona Electric during the launch event, I noticed the main battery pack protrudes slightly below the floor of the vehicle. This results in 151 mm ground clearance for the Kona Electric which is significantly lower than the minimum of 170 mm ground clearance for petrol or hybrid Konas.
For comparison, 151 mm is also less ground clearance than 158 mm in the previous generation Kona Electric. Thankfully, this is the only area where I could find a decrease in utility or functionality for the new generation Kona Electric.
Functional interior and infotainment
The interior of the new generation Kona Electric also benefits from Hyundai’s EV-led design with a flat floor in the rear and more head, leg and shoulder room for all passengers. There is plenty of storage space available throughout the cabin and a low centre console that provides good legroom for front seat passengers.
On top of the extra legroom and flat floor in the back, rear seat passengers are kept comfortable with rear air vents and the option to recline the seat slightly. There are two more USB-C ports on the back of the centre console, plus the interior V2L socket which is capable of providing up to 3 kW of power.
Seats on the Standard Kona Electric are manually adjusted and finished in Obsidian Black cloth, while the electric seats in the Premium variant are genuine leather with a choice of Obsidian Black, Light Shale Grey or Sage Green. Premium seats are heated and ventilated in the front as well as heated for the rear outboard seats.
Comfort levels could be improved though, after driving for three hours between Canberra and Sydney I found the standard seats were a bit firm and unsupportive. The hard plastic on the door armrest also became uncomfortable as this is where I tend to rest my elbow on longer drives while using adaptive cruise control.
Overall I found the infotainment system in the Kona Electric to be quite usable and the dual 12-inch screens are crisp and responsive. The standard stereo sounded reasonable to me, if you prefer better sound the Premium variant includes an upgraded 8-speaker Bose sound system.
In terms of power outlets, the centre console includes a wireless charging pad for phones, 180 W 12 V outlet and two USB-C ports. Wired Android Automotive and Apple CarPlay are available, but if you don’t use either the built-in navigation works well and includes easy to understand graphics for upcoming intersections.
Located below the central touchscreen are physical buttons for frequently used screens such as home, maps, media and settings. There are also physical switches for climate control so you don’t need to poke around on the screen to change settings while driving.
On top of the features already mentioned above, Kona Electric Premium variants include a head-up display, sunroof, powered tailgate, ambient LED mood lighting, acoustic laminated windshield glass and rear privacy glass.
Mixed driving experience
Regenerative braking in the Kona Electric is very flexible and easily adjusted using steering wheel paddles. There are five different levels to suit all drivers from zero or completely off to level 4 or i-Pedal which enables full one pedal driving.
Between drives the car remembers your previous one pedal drive setting with the exception of i-Pedal, defaulting back to level 3 each time. An auto hold function can be turned on or off using a button near the drive mode selector. Driving modes in the Kona are fairly standard with Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow for when traction is limited.
Power for the electric motor driving the front wheels remains the same as the previous generation Kona at 99 kW or 150 kW depending on the battery size. Torque in the new Kona Electric has been actually reduced from 395 Nm to 255 Nm for all variants, which Hyundai says enables a more refined and smoother driving experience.
The Kona Electric is not a sporty car, but Hyundai’s focus on local handling means it performs surprisingly well on twisty and bumpy back roads as well as over speed bumps and other obstacles. Our test loop outside of Canberra included a gravel road section where the Kona Electric had no issues at all.
Hyundai’s SmartSense safety system comes standard with all Kona Electric vehicles and includes all of the features you’d expect such as blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with lane centering and collision avoidance systems. On top of this, the Premium variant adds a blind-spot view when indicating and 3D surround view function for parking.
The SmartSense system is far from perfect though, as it beeps and chimes at you far too often. Some of the interruptions are helpful such as upcoming speed cameras, while other times I genuinely had no idea why the system was beeping at me.
One of the worst offenders was the driver attention warning, which uses a sensor behind the steering wheel to observe your gaze while driving. It sounds good in theory until it warns you to pay attention while you’re doing legitimate things like checking for other cars arriving at intersections.
These warnings can be disabled through the on-screen vehicle settings but they default to enabled again each time the car starts which is frustrating. The workaround Hyundai suggests is to set up the custom shortcut button on the steering wheel or dash to take you directly to the driver assistance settings.
In terms of energy usage, the Kona Electric proved to be quite efficient like the previous model. On the highway between Canberra and Sydney the vehicle used 15.6 kWh/100 km with climate control set to 22 degrees. Around the city I observed 14.1 kWh/100 km on average, with some individual trips dipping into the 11 – 12 kWh/100 km range.
Faster charging and vehicle to load
Hyundai has kept the CCS2 combo charge port located in the front bumper of the new Kona Electric, which enables good access to all types of charging stations. Maximum charging speeds have been increased to 10.4 kW AC and 100 kW DC. The car comes with a portable 10 A EVSE for charging from a regular power point.
The maximum DC charging speed remains slower than some other vehicles, but is a welcome increase over 77 kW in the previous model. For longer road trips, the built in navigation system in the Kona Electric includes EV trip planning with real time status information so charging stops can be added and the battery will precondition accordingly.
As mentioned above, the new Kona Electric now comes with V2L that can deliver up to 16 A at 250 V, totalling 3 kW of power. The interior V2L port on the back of the centre console requires the vehicle to be switched on or utility mode enabled. Unfortunately, I was unable to test V2L as the light turned red as soon as I plugged anything in. I verified that a 15 A plug fits into the V2L socket though.
For powering things externally, a V2L adapter that plugs into the CCS2 charge port is required. Hyundai confirmed the same V2L adapter for sale on their accessories site (link) at $595 for the Ioniq 5 and 6 works with the new Kona Electric as well.
Servicing for the new Kona Electric is required every 24 months or 30,000 km and costs $520 each for the first three services. Hyundai warrants the vehicle for 5 years, unlimited km and the main battery pack for 8 years or 160,000 km.
Connectivity wise, Bluelink connected car services and over the air (OTA) updates come standard with all Kona Electric vehicles. The Bluelink app enables you to see the location and status of the car, remotely control doors, windows and climate control although it won’t act as a digital key to start the vehicle.
Hyundai’s future EV strategy
During the launch of the Kona Electric I spoke with Chris Saltapidas, Product Planning Manager at Hyundai Australia and asked him about Hyundai’s future EV strategy. In particular, I was wondering if the Kona Electric would continue to coexist alongside their Ioniq line of electric vehicles.
Saltapidas responded saying “Basically, there’s no plans to discontinue anything, so Kona Electric and Ioniq 5 will coexist. They both have their different positions in the model lineup, Kona being a small SUV and Ioniq 5 being a medium SUV.”
Hyundai’s customer data shows that Kona Electric and Ioniq 5 are attracting very different buyers too. “What we’re seeing with the Ioniq 5 is a much younger demographic who has got much higher household income and are buying the car based on its design and style,” Saltapidas said.
When pressed for more information on future models, Saltapidas could not say much apart from a large Ioniq SUV is coming but the timing is yet to be decided. This refers to the rumoured Ioniq 7 that is based on Hyundai’s SEVEN concept, a large SUV with a lounge like interior.
I test drove the original Kona Electric back in 2019 and remember feeling underwhelmed, mainly due to the lack of space and because it felt like an internal combustion engine car to me. This new generation Kona Electric feels much more functional with improved space and many new features that are enabled by Hyundai’s EV-led approach.
Referring to Bryce’s article about four years of ownership with his Kona Electric, Hyundai seems to have fixed the main shortcomings he describes with the old model such as a lack of space and no official tow rating. The inclusion of a space saver spare wheel is fairly unique and will come in handy for those who take regular road trips too.
The new Hyundai Kona Electric will be on sale through Hyundai’s dealership network from January. Hyundai are in the process of upgrading all of their dealerships to Blue Drive which means they should all get stock of electric vehicles over time. Hyundai expects ample supply for the new Kona Electric as Australian bound vehicles are sourced from their Korean factory.
Table of key specifications for the new Kona Electric:
|$54,000 plus on-road costs
|$58,000 plus on-road costs
$68,000 plus on-road costs for the Premium
|Paint colours and options
|7 exterior colours. Mica or Metallic Premium cost $595:
|Nickel, manganese, cobalt (NMC)
|505 km (17-inch wheel)
444 km (Premium, 19-inch wheel)
|Power / Torque
|99 kW / 255 Nm
|150 kW / 255 Nm
|100 kW DC, 10.4 kW AC
|Length: 4355 mm
Width: 1825 mm
Height: 1580 mm
Wheelbase: 2660 mm
Ground clearance: 151 mm
|Frunk: 27 L
Boot, rear seats up: 407 L
Boot rear seats folded: 1241 L
All measurements using VDA
|24 months / 30,000 km
Tim has 20 years experience in the IT industry including 14 years as a network engineer and site reliability engineer at Google Australia. He is an EV and renewable energy enthusiast who is most passionate about helping people understand and adopt these technologies.