If there is one thing that you can’t blame Hyundai for, it’s for having a small heart. The carmaker has shown great fortitude by being the first mass carmaker to launch an electric car despite India having virtually zero infrastructure for EV charging. So, credit where credit is due. The Kona may only be a statement of intent from Hyundai but it showcases what the company is capable of. The carmaker has plans to electrify a large part of its global portfolio and India will also get a large chunk of these for buyers who want to go electric.
The Kona is a compact crossover and it shows. The relatively compact wheelbase gives it the right proportions for the city, where most buyers will be driving it around. The front end is dominated by the lack of a grille. The grille is rather a plastic panel that has a ‘charge’ design pattern on it. The right side of this section houses the socket for the charging point. What you will also notice is the fact that the main lamps are positioned below on the bumper, while the LED strip for the indicators and fogs is positioned above. This is a design we’ve already seen on the Venue compact SUV but it does look good and visually appealing.
The side profile is complete with 17-inch alloy wheels and they look very cool as well. The rear side isn’t as dramatic as the front though and will remind you of some other Hyundai cars like the i20 for instance. The side profile also gets muscular wheel arches and a muscled up bonnet, which gives it an appealing look. Overall, it’s a design that won’t offend many and should bode well with conservative Indian tastes.
The car feels very premium on the inside and comes with all the bells and whistles that you can think of. You get wireless charging for your mobile phone, leather seats which are both heated and cooled as well. A full electrical sunroof, a 7-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android auto and a 10-way powered driver side seat among other things.
Hyundai cars have always been the top cats in their segment for sheer quality and the Kona is no different. All the switchgear feels solid and the perceived quality levels are as good as that on any car worth Rs 25 lakh. The seat comfort all across is very good as well. Headroom and legroom at the back is decent when you consider the relatively compact dimensions of the car.
Engine, gearbox and performance
Hyundai India is offering the Kona with a 136bhp or 100kW electric motor and the 39.2kWh battery. The impressive stat is the 452km range that Hyundai claims for the car under ARAI certification. Hyundai will offer an 8-year/1,60,000km warranty on the battery. The battery according to the company is good for over 2,000 charging cycles which means atleast 11-12 years of service life. Hyundai is giving two chargers with the car. A regular one that can be used with a three-pin plug at home or office and will take over thirteen hours to fully charge the car from zero. The second option is a 7.2Kw box charger that will fully charge the batteries in just over six hours. Hyundai will help you fix this charger at home.
The Kona comes with four different modes to choose from. Eco, eco plus, comfort and sport. These modes simply help the engine responses as well as the regenerative braking on the car. As the name suggests the Eco plus mode is the one which offers best regenerative braking and least responsive engine and the Sport mode has the most responsive engine but lowest regenerative braking to charge up the battery pack again. You can select these modes by using the flappy pedals behind the steering wheel which are otherwise used for the gearbox. Hyundai claims a 0-100kph time of around 9.7 seconds, which gives this car plenty of briskness. In fact, with the torque available right from the word go, you will have to be careful with the accelerator pedal because before you know it the car can do speeds which are not allowed within city limits.
Ride and handling
The steering of the Kona feels sharp and responsive. It feels crisp and dynamic. The car is a brilliant handler and Hyundai did a good job of inviting us at the BIC racetrack in Delhi for the event. The chassis also feels nice and balanced and is willing to change directions quickly. The ride feels very surefooted as well as confidence inspiring. That said we didn’t get a chance to take the car over badly patched up roads so slow speed ride over bad surfaces remains to be seen.
At Rs 25 lakh the Kona might not appeal to a wide audience but if you want a car that offers green credentials and also has an air of exclusivity then this is a good option(Hyundai will sell only 500 units initially). Hyundai’s trusted aftersales support is a big boon too. We recommend a buy if you have this kind of cash with you.