Electric hot hatch Kona cuts a dash around the New Forest
HYUNDAI'S zero emission all-electric hot hatch Kona, its latest electrified vehicle (EV), has been cutting a dash around the New Forest.
Putting the EV into Everton, Hyundai was a demonstration version of the 64kWh flagship Kona Electric Premium SE model, joining both the Ioniq family and the forthcoming Nexo as the brand drives towards 18 new electrified models by 2025.
And I got a chance to drive the smart four-seater hatchback with a lusty performance to make you smile, with just over 200bhp (204PS) on tap for 0-62mph acceleration in just 7.6secs and potential top speed of 104mph – and a really useful range of 279 miles.
Even the ‘base’ 39kWh sets a brisk pace with 136PS and practical 180 miles range.
The cars can only be ordered from Hyundai’s Click to Buy website but that means you can specify your choice at your leisure, and finance options, and then it is delivered and serviced through your dealer as with any other purchase.
The only frustration is that the cars are so good you will be very unlikely to be able to buy one until next year, with this year’s allocation sold out – if you order you might just be offered one made available by a cancellation.
But then for business users it is well worth the wait with changes to company car tax introducing 15 new bandings, of which 11 will be for ULEVs.
From 2020-21, the appropriate percentages for zero emission cars like this, rising from 13% to 16% from April 2019, will finally drop to 2% next year, while those for cars with CO2 emissions between 1g/km and 50g/km will vary between 2% and 14% depending on the number of zero-emission miles the vehicle can travel.
This really is the car of the future, bringing the very latest in battery electric powertrain and connected technology, with its impressive driving range, all packaged up in an evolution of the Kona’s striking exterior design.
It is great and simple to drive – after a couple of miles you, well, just drive! It is intuitive, with just accelerator and brake pedals and automatic transmission that whirrs you along with just a melodic pulse sound to alert pedestrians including the blind, and cyclists.
The key element is that regenerative braking charges the battery and you can adjust how much just easing off the accelerator will create braking effect — and yes, that does activate the brake lights.
There is one extra feature not found on traditional cars and that is a pair of paddles on the steering wheel, not for gear-changing but braking, with the left one able to bring the car to a complete stop as though you had hit the pedal.
Early eco cars I have driven in the past were lean and breathless, scrimping on goodies to cut the weight burden to scavenge lower CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning internal combustion engines.
Early electric cars made you very conscious that every time you switched on a device, such as lights, wipers, heater or aircon, even the satnav, would eat into the battery reserves and diminish a rather restricted range.
But Kona Electric is light years apart, loaded with sophisticated driving aids and comfort features – even heated and ventilated electrically-adjusted front seats on the flagship model - and top level safety.
The cars are not cheap, priced from £30,750 for the 39 kWh entry SE model. That is before the government incentive grant of £3,500 currently which brings the net on-the-road price down to £27,250 for the lowest priced all-electric hot hatch Kona.
But then running costs are slashed with the simple zero emissions power train. Benefits start with no first year vehicle excise duty, and then not just no pump fuel (£1.50.9 a litre for diesel at the M27 services this week) or oil changes but low cost electricity – and no Congestion Charge if you go to London, no Itchen Bridge toll in Southampton, lots of free parking. You won’t know you’re born.
Next comes the Premium 39kWH model (£28,720 after grant) with same performance but higher spec, then the Premium 64kWh for the raised performance and spec at £32,845 net, topped by the demonstrator Premium SE at £35,145 net that I drove.
Old fears of running out of charge before you find a charger that will take hours have disappeared with charging points springing up everywhere – see just how many and where at Zap-Map - including one at Everton Hyundai naturally.
There are on-street chargers, a growing number at filling stations, at supermarkets, hotels and car parks, and that is in addition to home charging units also available with £500 government subsidy.
This Kona looks good, riding on comparatively fat 7in wide 17in special alloy wheels. Front styling features include a signature silver garnish connecting the high level daytime running lamps, a closed grille incorporating the charge point and a redesigned front bumper with active air flaps.
At the rear the bumper has been redesigned for improved airflow, as well as housing redesigned turn signal and fog lamp units. From the side, its lower side skirt and wheel arch side claddings are clear differentiators from the internal combustion engine versions.
Kona Electric models come with a high level of standard safety features, including Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition (AEB), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Smart Cruise Control (ASCC), and Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with individual tyre pressure display.
Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Lane Follow Assist (LFA) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) are also available dependant on trim level.
The entry level SE 39kWh equipment includes a 7in display audio including DAB, Apple Car Play and Android Auto rear parking sensors with rear view camera, Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls and a leather steering wheel.
Automatic lights, climate control, driver’s side electric lumbar support and keyless entry with start/stop button are amongst the key specification items.
The Premium 39kWh builds on the SE trim level by offering additional equipment including, privacy glass, LED rear lamps, front parking sensors, auto dimming rear mirror and automatic windscreen wipers, 8in touchscreen display audio system with Navigation, DAB, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, combined with the Krell audio system with eight speakers and wireless charging for compatible smartphone devices.
The range topping Kona Electric Premium SE 64kWh that I drove in the Forest adds LED headlamps with High Beam Assist (HBA), static cornering lights and the really handy head-up display. Additional enhancements include leather seat facings, those super front seats and heated steering wheel.
Kona Electric is available in a choice of six colours - Galactic Grey (metallic) is a no cost option finish, with Chalk White (pearl), Tangerine Comet (metallic), Ceramic Blue (pearl), Pulse Red (pearl) and Acid Yellow (metallic) being a £565 option. A two-tone roof is available to order as a £420 option on the Premium & Premium SE models.