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Affordable Electric Car of the Year 2018: Hyundai Kona Electric

The Hyundai Kona Electric is the 2018 Auto Express Affordable Electric Car of the Year, with the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf commended

Hyundai believes that as much as 50 per cent of its total sales could be SUVs within the next few years, so it has invested heavily in developing an all-new platform for the Kona. That platform has allowed the creation of the Kona Electric.

While the standard car underwhelmed us, the Kona EV’s 300-mile range takes victory in our Affordable Electric Car category. That means it goes further on its batteries than some thirsty petrol models on a tankful, and much further than rivals such as the VW e-Golf or Nissan Leaf.

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New Hyundai Kona Electric review

It’s a groundbreaking figure that pushes what’s possible in this sector and a statement of intent from Hyundai. Combined with the Kona’s affordable price tag, it shows that genuinely mainstream electric cars are viable now.

During our tests in the Kona Electric we worked out the 300-mile range is well within the realms of possibility, and with careful driving you’ll be able to get even more than that from the 64kWh battery.

With most electric cars, a short commute bookended by charging at home and at work is the best way to keep the EV topped up, but the Kona’s flexibility means it only needs to be charged up once a week or so, removing much of the range anxiety that comes with ownership of an EV. This is a key development in this sector.

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It’s very quiet and comfortable on the move, too, because the EV gets the same multi-link rear suspension configuration as the higher-spec petrol Konas. There’s a good balance between body control and comfort; only the sharpest road imperfections thud into the cabin, and even then the Kona does a decent job of softening the worst of the impacts.

A great infotainment system, a good kit list and funky SUV styling add to its appeal, but the core of the car’s talents are its genuinely usable real-world electric range and that affordable price tag. 

Our choice 

Hyundai Kona Electric Premium 64kW (£29,495)

Thanks to the Kona Electric’s excellent real-world range, we think you should go for this 64kW model. It opens up new possibilities for a small EV, with a range not too far behind some small petrol SUVs. With 201bhp, it’s a strong performer, plus the powertrain doesn’t compromise practicality too much. Premium spec offers a good balance of kit and cost. 

Commended

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf - front

If you’re sticking to the old model of electric car ownership and are able to charge frequently, the new second-generation Nissan Leaf is a great choice. It’s comfortable, quiet and good to drive, plus impressive packaging helps the all-electric hatchback’s cabin space. 

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf - front

Like the Kona, the Volkswagen e-Golf is based on an existing car; the new Leaf has been built from the ground up as an EV. But because the VW uses underpinnings from the best family hatch on sale, it has a superb basis to build on, and we love the e-Golf’s high-quality cabin, refined driving experience and good real-world range. 

Auto Express New Car Awards 2018

For complete, in-depth coverage of the 2018 New Car Awards, buy your collector's edition copy of the Auto Express magazine now or click here to subscribe...

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