HYUNDAI has taken a stylish, practical compact SUV and made it environmentally friendly as well, with the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite; a car designed by Luc Dockerwolke, the man behind the Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo.
When you first look at the electric version of the Kona, the design is not dissimilar to the rest of its siblings, but there are a few tell-take signs that this one has got a little extra spark. That starts with the futuristic looking panel that replaces the grille.
It’s here you’ll find the exceptionally well hidden charging panel as well. There’s also a set of 17-inch rims that look like something straight out of Back to the Future. The 8-year/160,000km battery warranty is unique to the EV too.
The driving experience of the electric Kona, in our case in its Elite specification, takes a bit of getting used to, but it does offer a smooth and easy drive, and with no transmission, there’s no jerking or lurch from shifting.
Light and responsive steering, and an outstanding suspension setup make for a delightful experience on the road. It’s the blissful silence that might irk you the first few times you drive it, but once you’ve driven the Kona a few times, it becomes second nature.
The biggest challenge with swapping over to an electric vehicle is the mental battle with range anxiety, but with more charging stations popping up all the time, that will soon become a thing of the past.
The Kona Electric Elite is good for 480km under normal driving conditions, and there are three main options to charge your shiny little EV. You can plug into a standard 240v outlet and wait for around 28 hours, if you really want to. Not our first choice.
You can also buy home charging station for your garage wall, which will deliver a fully charged vehicle in about 9.5 hours. The last choice is ideal for road trips, and that’s using a super charger out on the road.
With that method you could be 80 per cent charged in 54 minutes. It’s not too bad if you can find one near a coffee shop, and you can fuel your body while the Kona Electric does its thing.
The 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite is powered by a single speed reduction gear electric motor that’s capable of delivering 150kW of power and 395Nm of torque. That’s enough power to push you back in your seat, when it’s all instantly on tap.
And while the creature comforts feel a little basic despite its Elite specification, the gizmos and technology in the Kona make up for it. The adaptive cruise control with full stop start functionality, is worth the price of admission, on its own.
The car essentially drives itself, and once you’ve set the speed, it will maintain its place in the flow of traffic, and will slow down and fully brake when necessary. To get going again, all you have to do is hit the continue button on the steering wheel.
The lane keep, or lane wandering if you prefer, technology will also keep you perfectly centred between the white lines on the road. The Kona Electric Elite also comes with an excellent reversing camera with dynamic lines, for easy parking.
It has key-less entry and push button start, and comes in a range of exterior colours, including Chalk White, Phantom Black, Galactic Grey, Lake Silver, Pulse Red, and the Ceramic Blue of our test vehicle.
Black leather trim is standard across the colour range, but some are available with a combination Stone Grey/Blue leather trim. It adds a uniquely luxurious touch that’s just something different from the normal black offering.
There’s an 8.0-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation, the usual radio and media functionality, DAB+ digital radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. It’s all hooked up to an impressive 8-speaker Infinity premium audio system.
You’ll also find a generous centre console, with a unique storage area underneath (that’s big enough for a handbag). Space comes courtesy of the lack of a transmission tunnel, and Hyundai has done well to capitalise on its use.
The Kona Electric Elite is a great small SUV that’s roomy and can comfortably fit a rear-facing baby seat and still have plenty of room on the passenger side.
One of the few downsides, aside from maybe heated or electric seats (both of which feature on the Highlander variant), is that the boot isn’t that large, space wise, and isn’t really big pram friendly if you have little babies. Kids over five, no problem. It’s perfect.
All-in-all though, the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite is a little pocket rocket that offers a reasonable entry in the electric vehicle future of motoring. It sits mid-range, with the Launch Edition below it, and a Highlander offering above it.
You can drive one out of the showroom (in its ‘as tested’ form), and never pay for fuel again, for just shy of $66,360. Aside from the battery warranty we already mentioned, it comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty for the rest of the vehicle.
The non-EV version will set you back around $35,000. You could argue that what you’re paying extra for is the opportunity to save the environment, go green and embrace the future of vehicle technology. You’re also paying for the battery technology.
Our test vehicle was provided by Hyundai Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Hyundai Kona Electric Elite, contact your local Hyundai dealer. Pictures courtesy of Cameron Cooke Photography.