It costs $60k, but the Kona Electric's claimed 449km real-world driving range is many miles ahead of other 'entry level' electric vehicles out there

Hyundai Australia has launched its second EV, the Kona Electric, which sits above the Ioniq and gives the company ammunition to become the local leader in semi-affordable, pluggable vehicles.

The Kona Electric wears a starting sticker price of $59,990 before on-road costs in Elite spec level: $10,000 pricier than the Nissan Leaf and $15,000 more than a base Ioniq. The Kona Electric Highlander costs $64,490. However, it's not quite apples for apples.

The Kona Electric is capable of a usefully longer real-world (WLTP) driving range. Its 449km distance claim is 50 per cent greater than the Ioniq's and 40 per cent greater than the Leaf's.

It also offers the proven allure of a small crossover body style like a Jaguar I-Pace, even though at just 4180mm long it's shorter than either the Leaf or Ioniq, and its 332L boot is smaller than both.

While that $60k-plus price is notable, it's worth mentioning that the flagship Kona Electric in the UK has a recommended retail price of around £38,000 – at the current exchange rate equal to AU$72,000.

The bigger price issue for buyers motivated by economic rationale will be the minimum $21,000 premium the Kona EV wears over the Kona Highlander turbo-petrol version.

So what's the Kona Electric packing?

  • Battery pack: 64kWh (more than double the Ioniq's capacity)
  • Electric drive motor: 150kW/395Nm
  • WLTP driving range: 449km
  • 0-100km/h time: 7.6 seconds
  • Governed top speed: 167km/h
  • 100kW DC charge time to 80%: 54 minutes
  • 50kW DC charge time to 80%: 75 minutes
  • AC garage wall-box via 7.2kWh charger cable, time to 100 per cent: 9 hours, 35 minutes

The paddle shifters behind the wheel allow you to adjust the level of brake-energy regeneration, which is added to the battery store and almost allows for 'one-pedal' driving at maximum friction.

As a side note, the 449km EV driving range on the WLTP real-world cycle equates to a 557km range on the less reliable ADR or NEDC driving cycle.

As with every other Hyundai passenger car and SUV, the Kona Electric received a number of Australia-specific suspension changes based on local engineering tests. The group claims to have cycled through 37 damper designs and six different spring/anti-roll bar combos.

The Kona Electric uses more aluminium in its construction, helping offset that heavy battery pack. At 1685kg, it's still 270kg heavier than the size-equivalent turbocharged Kona Highlander.

“The low centre of mass brings lots of benefits that seem obvious, but also many challenges that were new to us,” HMCA's product planning chief Andrew Tuitahi said. “... Kona Electric shares very little in its ride and handling package with its petrol-powered sibling."

To stand apart from its siblings, the Kona Electric has a closed grille incorporating the charge point, active air flaps in the front bumper, LED headlights, a more aero-friendly rear bumper, eco-style 17-inch alloy wheels, more cladding and standard roof rails.

There are six colours (Galactic Grey, Phantom Black, Ceramic Blue, Pulse Red, Lake Silver and Chalk White) and you can ditch the glass sunroof in favour of a two-tone roof colour on Highlander models.

Compared to the regular Kona, the Electric version has a new digital instrument cluster and centre screen surround, a slicker climate control panel and a reworked area where the transmission tunnel would usually reside, incorporating buttons instead of a shifter, and more storage.

Befitting the Kona Electric's status as range flagship, both versions are equipped with Hyundai's full range of SmartSense active safety tech including:

  • Camera/radar collision alert and AEB
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Driver attention alert
  • Lane-keeping/centring assist
  • Active cruise control
  • Rear cross-traffic alert

Other standard fare on the Elite includes:

  • Eight-inch screen with sat-nav
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Leather seats
  • Proximity key with button start
  • Climate control
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Infinity premium audio
  • Digital radio

The Kona Electric Highlander grade adds:

  • Front parking sensors
  • LED headlights/tail lights
  • High-beam assist
  • Sunroof (deleted with two-tone roof option)
  • Heated/ventilated front seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Head-up display
  • Qi wireless phone charging pad

The Kona Electric also comes with Hyundai Auto Link Premium SIM, a smartphone app that integrates with the car's ECU.

You can look at basic vehicle data like efficiency, driving history, vehicle health, weather and battery status etc. You can also locate your car, log your trips and book a service through the interface, and remotely lock or unlock the car and turn on the hazards lights, horn and climate control.

Kona Electric servicing intervals are 12 months or 15,000km (whichever comes first) and each of the first five visits is currently capped at $165 a pop. The regular Hyundai warranty is five years, while the battery warranty is eight years/160,000km.