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Hyundai Kona Electric review - Engines, performance and drive

Great performance and smooth, relaxed road manners make the Kona Electric one of the best-driving EVs around

Put simply, the Hyundai Kona is great to drive – it’s surprisingly fast in 64kWh guise, rides nicely and handles quite neatly. It’s not the last word in driver involvement – the Kona takes a more relaxed approach – but there’s enough grip and agility to help you make the most of the impressive power and torque in the most powerful version of the car.

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Like most EVs, the Kona Electric’s lack of a gearbox means that engine braking is absent in the traditional sense – instead, the car uses a configurable regenerative braking system that can be used to simulate the effect while also charging the car’s batteries. Switched off, the system allows the Kona to coast off-throttle with almost no loss of momentum, but when dialled up, the car can almost be driven without touching the brakes – you can use the paddle on the left behind the steering wheel to step down gradually, much like changing down gears on an internal combustion car. It has a similar effect to that of the ‘e-Pedal’ system found in the Nissan Leaf, but doesn’t bring the car to a complete stop as that system does.

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Electric vs hybrid vs ICE: which powertrain is best for you?

The Kona Electric is best enjoyed in 64kWh guise – its power and range are genuinely impressive – but those whose journeys are limited to urban commutes could save some money by opting for the 39kWh version. Performance isn’t quite as impressive but it still feels nippy, with a similar sense of instant torque and linear acceleration. It feels faster than an equivalent 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol Hyundai Kona and, while best suited to town driving, can easily keep up on open roads and motorways.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The Hyundai Kona Electric’s single electric motor is available in two power outputs: 134bhp and 201bhp. The first option is the cheaper of the two and comes with a smaller 39kWh battery, but still produces the same 395Nm of torque as the more powerful 64kWh version.

Performance is good in the 39kWh car, with 0-62mph taking 9.7 seconds and top speed limited at 96mph. The step to 64kWh brings a little more poke – 0-62mph drops to 7.6 seconds and top speed increases to 104mph.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    100kW SE 39kWh 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £30,111

Most Economical

  • Name
    150kW Premium 64kWh 5dr Auto [7kW Charger]
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £37,661

Fastest

  • Name
    150kW Premium 64kWh 5dr Auto [7kW Charger]
  • Gearbox type
    Auto
  • Price
    £37,661
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