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Hyundai’s affordable electric crossover has the numbers to shake this market segment to the core

Hyundai’s recent rise to ubiquity on British roads has been so dramatic that it might surprise you to learn the marque’s first foray over here was all the way back in 1982.

That incipient offering was a cheap four-door with a sloping hatch and rear-wheel drive, yours for a mere £3075. Not that many people bought a Pony, mind; and between 1982 and 2004, Hyundai sold the Brits only 400,000 mainly uninspiring cars.

‘Blue Drive’ is the umbrella term for Hyundai’s fuel-saving technologies. Accoutrements include low rolling resistance tyres

It’s only since then that the brand’s popularity has exploded with a blend of outstanding warranty-backed reliability, tantalising value and much improved aesthetic appeal.

Today, Hyundai competes strongly in every segment that really matters for a mainstream manufacturer, and even makes a hot hatch so rewarding to drive that it starred in last year’s Britain’s Best Driver’s Car shootout alongside McLaren, Porsche and Mercedes-AMG.

The point is that back in 1982, any notion that Hyundai might significantly alter the automotive marketplace in this country was incomprehensible; and yet, in 2018, it just might. The subject of this week’s road test looks like a landmark in the development of the electric car.

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The Kona Electric offers the most compelling blend of usability and affordability yet seen in an EV. We’ll come onto the exact figures in due course, but the claims are for a Tesla-baiting 300 miles of range with an asking price closer to a Nissan Leaf’s.

To anyone feeling ready to wean themselves off fossil fuels, those facts alone should grab the attention. That the Kona Electric can also be considered discreetly attractive, and as a compact crossover also promises to be conveniently spacious, should hold that attention rock-steady.

And the big question whether its real-world abilities are a match for its considerable on-paper appeal? You’re about to find out.


Hyundai Kona Electric First drives