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Driven: Hyundai Kona Electric charges up

Battery-powered Hyundai Kona Electric small SUV checks in from $59,990 plus ORCs

22 Mar 2019

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) has launched its pure-electric Kona small SUV this month commanding a circa-$30,000 price premium over its front-wheel-drive, internal-combustion counterparts.
Specifically, the Kona Electric range kicks off at $59,990 before on-road costs for the Elite and rises to $64,490 for the range-topping Highlander, a $30,490 and $28,990 increase over the 2.0-litre engine equivalents.
Speaking at the Kona Electric launch in Adelaide last week, HMCA senior manager of product planning Andrew Tuitahi justified the substantial price increase with the advanced electric technologies on board.
“It’s absolutely the right price for the car,” he said.
“Compared to the standard Kona, there is an exceptional amount of technology that has gone into it, particularly in terms of battery capacity.”
As the first pure-electric small SUV on the market, the Kona Electric has no direct rivals, but pricing puts it close to the BMW i3 hatchback that retails from $68,700.
Hyundai also currently lays claim to the cheapest electric vehicle (EV) in Australia with its Ioniq Electric sedan ($44,990) that undercuts the upcoming Nissan Leaf small car ($49,990) and current Renault Zoe light car ($51,990 driveaway).
With the Kona Electric, Ioniq and upcoming Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, HMCA chief executive officer JW Lee said the South Korean brand is positioning itself to be the local market leader for alternative powertrain vehicle.
“It is Hyundai’s intention to establish leadership for eco cars in Australia,” he said. “We have demonstrated that with Ioniq and now Kona Electric, with the Nexo hydrogen-powered SUV to follow once suitable infrastructure is developed.
“Kona Electric’s unique, fun styling, packaged with advanced standard safety and connectivity features make for a highly appealing and affordable zero-emissions package.”
Though Mr Lee would not be drawn on sales expectations for the Kona Electric, HMCA confirmed 500-600 units have been allocated to Australia, which could represent around 5.0 per cent of total Kona volume if 2019 sales hold steady at last year’s 12,352 tally.
However, for the first two months of the year, Kona sales have dropped 23.6 per cent to 1531 units.
While the internal-combustion Kona line-up is powered by either a 110kW/180Nm 2.0 litre in front-wheel-drive form, or a 130kW265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine in all-wheel-drive guise, the EV version combines a 64kWh lithium-ion battery with a 150kW/395Nm electric motor sending drive direct to the front wheels.
Driving range tested under the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) is set at 449 kilometres, and performance figures include a zero to 100km/h time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 167km/h.
Plugged into a 100kW DC fast-charger, the Kona Electric can charge to 80 per cent capacity in 54 minutes, while charging from the standard 7.2kW household plug takes approximately nine hours and 35 minutes.
As with all Hyundai passenger vehicles sold in Australia, the Kona Electric benefits from a local suspension and steering tune.
Distinguishing the EV from its conventionally propelled Kona is a closed front grille design as well as a unique rear bumper and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Out-of-the-box, the Kona Electric is equipped with Hyundai’s SmartSense safety package which includes forward collision avoidance, active cruise control, driver-attention warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The cabin features an 8.0-inch infotainment system with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, an eight-speaker audio system and DAB+ digital radio.
Stepping up to the Highlander adds a glass sunroof, wireless smartphone charging, power-operated heated/ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Other Highlander-specific features include a head-up display, high-beam assist, front park assist, and LED headlights.
Six optional metallic and mica colour schemes are available for an extra $595, and a two-tone roof will be available as a no-cost option on the Highlander, replacing the sunroof.
Hyundai’s standard five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with 12 months roadside assistance is offered with the Kona Electric, however, the warranty extends to eight years/160,000km for battery faults.


2019 Hyundai Kona Electric pricing*

Elite (a) $59,990
Highlander (a) $64,490

*Excludes on-road costs

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