Given the coverage generated already by the Jaguar I-Pace even before the car has been properly launched to the press, Hyundai might do well to grab more than a moment of limelight for the Kona Electric — a car that, while far from ordinary-looking, hasn’t got the razzmatazz of Jaguar’s design, the sheen of its premium brand, or quite that car’s performance appeal.
But, as a drive in a prototype on German roads has just revealed, the Kona Electric may well have more of what really matters to EV drivers than what Hyundai and Kia has delivered with their electric efforts thus far, or that its direct rivals offer: battery range.
The exact positioning of Hyundai’s second all-electric passenger car to market, after the Ioniq, is still to be confirmed ahead of a UK showrooms arrival later this summer. What’s already clear, however, is that the Kona Electric won’t be priced like too many other compact crossover hatchbacks; company sources suggest they’re working hard to make the top-of-the-line version between £35,000 and £37,000 (before any purchase incentive).
So this’ll certainly be an expensive crossover hatchback in flagship trim, at least, and a fairly pricey compact EV to boot. But it’ll also be a relatively powerful one, with a 201bhp electric motor driving the front wheels and a lithium ion battery that, at 64kWh of storage, is a closer match for the battery capacity of a Tesla Model S than that in a Volkswagen e-Golf or Nissan Leaf.
For those who’d prefer it, Hyundai will also offer the car with 134bhp of motive power and 39kWh of power storage, very likely for a starting price well below £30,000 once the Government’s plug-in car grant has been accounted for.
What is the Hyundai Kona Electric prototype like?
Based on a model platform that was designed for electric propulsion from the start, the Kona Electric has a drive motor similar in concept to the one that powers the Ioniq Electric, but a battery that’s different from that of its sibling in one key respect: it’s liquid-cooled. It’s heavy, too — making the Kona Electric’s kerb weight swell to more than 1.6 tonnes in the case of our test car.
But then big batteries tend to be heavy ones and the Kona Electric’s has been rated as being worth exactly 300 miles of cruising range for the car on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure lab test cycle. That bests the ‘autonomy’ of the latest Leaf and Renault Zoe by around 70% and is also comparable with the brim-to-brim touring range that you might expect of a petrol-powered Kona of similar power and performance. Charging is possible via AC at-home wallbox or by CCS DC 100kW fast charge, the latter needing 54 minutes to give an 80% charge to the battery.