2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium review

The Hyundai Kona Electric has grown up.

The first-generation car was early to the electric car party in Australia, but it has recently been overtaken by newer rivals offering more refined driving experiences, more modern interior technology, and more space.

That’s where the second-generation car here comes in. Like the petrol and hybrid Kona with which it shares its bones, the Electric is designed to offer more space, up-to-date technology, and a more polished drive than its predecessor.

Despite all those steps forward, it hasn’t been smacked with a monster price hike.

The base Kona Electric is actually $500 cheaper than the car it replaces, although the top-end Premium Extended Range on test here is $4000 more expensive than its now-defunct equivalent.

Does the new Kona Electric represent a great leap forward, or is it an incremental upgrade to the old model?

How does the Hyundai Kona compare?

View a detailed breakdown of the Hyundai Kona against similarly sized vehicles.

Hyundai Kona cutout image

Hyundai

Kona

How much does the Hyundai Kona cost?

You pay a healthy premium to get your hands on the Premium Extended Range. It’s $10,000 pricier than the base Extended Range.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric pricing

  • 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Standard Range: $54,000
  • 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Extended Range: $58,000
  • 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium Extended Range: $68,000

Prices exclude on-road costs

The Kona Electric faces off with a number of SUVs, featuring both electric and petrol power. To see how it shapes up, use our comparison tool.

What is the Hyundai Kona like on the inside?

Gone is the flight-deck-like transmission tunnel of the old Kona, replaced by a clean and modern design shared with high-end petrol and hybrid models. It makes the cramped previous-generation model feel very dated.

Presentation is impressive across the range, and the fundamentals are solid. The Premium elevates itself with white leather seats (heated and cooled, naturally), ambient lighting, and a posh-looking cloth knit headliner.

The front seats are comfortable on long hauls and offer a broad range of adjustment allowing tall or short drivers to get comfortable, while the view over the bonnet is more ‘shrunken Tucson‘ than ‘overgrown i30‘ as was previously the case.

Hyundai has also realised buttons aren’t the enemy, which makes the Kona cabin much easier to navigate.  It’s easy to flick into Sport, for example, or knock the temperature up by one degree without taking your eyes off the road, as should be the case.

The infotainment software (which is now rolling out across the broader range) is easy to use, and touches like having the shortcut buttons in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen instead of the top left make life easier in right-hand drive Australia.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are rolling out on some Hyundai models with built-in navigation. It was missing from the car at launch, and is currently being rolled out with an update to cars locally.

Hyundai’s digital dashboard is clean and functional, but it’s not particularly feature-rich relative to what you get in a Volkswagen Group product – you can’t have maps in your display, for example.

The flipside? There’s still lots of cheap, hard plastics, from the sides of the dashboard to the top of the doors.

We called it out in the petrol, and it’s more pronounced here given the Electric Premium is more expensive again. It’s pricier than a base Ioniq 5, which has a more grown-up interior design. Then again, I’d take hard plastics over some of the weirdness in the Kona’s rivals from China.

Rear seat space is miles better in this Kona than the last, starting with the wider-opening doors.

Adults don’t need to contort themselves to squeeze in anymore, which is a step forward, and once back there you get levels of legroom and headroom comparable to a Kia Seltos or BYD Atto 3.

The air vents and USB-C ports are family-friendly touches, and the broader rear bench will keeping warring kids at bay more effectively than before.

You even get a V2L three-pin outlet back there in the rear, allowing passengers to charge a laptop on the move.

The last Kona EV felt very compromised, with a higher floor than the petrol equivalent forcing passengers into an awkward knees-up position.

The new model has more toe-room under the front seats, and won’t make long-legged passengers feel nearly as cramped.

ISOFIX on the outboard seats and a trio of top-tether points are present, as is a fold-down central armrest.

Claimed boot space is a claimed 407 litres (up 75L on the old car, down 132L on the petrol Kona), expanding to 1241 litres with the rear seats folded. There’s space for charging cables under the bonnet in a 27L storage space.

Rural buyers will also be happy to know there’s a space saver spare wheel beneath the boot floor, which is rare in electric cars.

What’s under the bonnet?

Where the last Kona Electric had 395Nm of torque, the new one has 255Nm. Hyundai says that’s still more than enough, and the change was made to improve driveability.

Having lived with a previous-generation Kona Electric for a while, that’s no bad thing. It was prone to torque steer, and could never really put all that torque down without feeling a bit wild.

Model Hyundai Kona Electric Extended Range
Drivetrain Single-motor electric
Battery 64.8kWh lithium-ion
Power 150kW
Torque 255Nm
Driven Wheels Front-wheel drive
Weight 1698kg
Energy efficiency (as tested) N/A
Claimed range 444-505km
Max AC charge rate 10kW
Max DC charge rate 100kW

How does the Hyundai Kona drive?

The Kona Electric isn’t targeted at the sort of person who wants their electric car to feel like a spaceship.

It’s remarkably unremarkable, with a flat learning curve for anyone hopping out of a petrol or diesel car. It felt that way during our shorter launch drive, and it feels that way with more seat time.

Even in the more powerful Extended Range, the way it performs in the city is in keeping with the more expensive petrol 1.6-litre turbo engine. There’s no wheel spin or torque steer – both of which were real issues in the old Kona Electric. It just gets on with the job, backed by a subtle hum from the motor.

The steering is light, and even the more grown up body is small enough to easily squeeze into parking spots or through tight laneways. It feels at home in the city, where you can lean on the instant low-down torque to squirt away from the traffic lights faster than most internal-combustion cars.

Hyundai’s regenerative braking has been improved in the transition from the first- to the second-generation Kona Electric. It’s smoother to engage when you lift off at speed, and you’re now able to use Hyundai’s i-Pedal to avoid the brake pedal around town.

It’s silly that you still need to activate one-pedal driving every time you start the car though; the highest level it’ll default to still requires the driver puts their foot on the brake pedal to stop.

Will owners bother with the regenerative braking? Given this is meant to be an electric car for people who don’t want to drive a science experiment, maybe they won’t.

Hyundai hasn’t chased a sporty feeling here, instead opting for a relaxed suspension tune. It floats over speed bumps and potholes, although you’re always aware of the car’s weight.

1700kg isn’t morbidly obese by electric car standards, but it’s still around 180kg more than a fully-loaded Kona N Line Hybrid and that’s hard to ignore.

On smooth highways, the Kona Electric feels quite grown up. There’s minimal wind and road noise, and there’s enough performance from the electric motor to have punch in reserve for overtaking at the legal limit.

But the soft suspension and chunky kerb weight figure conspire to make this quite a bouncy car over big highway crests and dips, taking one, two, sometimes three movements to control its mass. When the road gets interesting you can really throw the Kona Hybrid around; the Electric doesn’t enjoy being pushed hard.

The adaptive cruise control does a good job maintaining a gap to the car in front, and the lane-keeping assist decisively nudges you back between the white lines if you stray.

Hyundai’s lane-centring system, which more actively controls the car’s position in the lane rather than intervening when you stray, is a bit too hands-on for my liking, though.

The driver attention monitoring is prone to false positives, flashing when you actually are looking at the road… which makes you look away. More refinement is needed, as is the case with the speed limit warning system.

Yes, it’s a European requirement. It’s also so deeply annoying, I would be rooting around online to try and work out a way to turn it off through the OBD II port.

What do you get?

The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric is available in two different trim levels – on test here is the flagship Premium variant.

Kona Electric (Base) highlights:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Space-saver spare wheel
  • Satin chrome belt line/roof spoiler garnish
  • Body-colour painted cladding
  • Heated exterior mirrors
  • MFR-type automatic LED headlights
  • Automatic high-beam
  • LED daytime running lights
  • LED combination tail lights
  • Rain-sensing window wipers
  • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
  • 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Over-the-air software update capability
  • Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Satellite navigation
  • 6-speaker sound system
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Proximity entry and push-button start
  • Remote start
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Shift-by-wire column-mounted gear selector
  • LED interior lighting
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Luggage net
  • Heat pump
  • Battery conditioning system
  • Interior V2L port
  • Premium cloth upholstery

Kona Electric Premium adds:

  • AEB in Reverse
  • Blind-Spot View Monitor
  • Surround-view camera
  • Front, side, rear parking sensors
  • Remote Smart Parking Assist
  • 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Acoustic laminated windscreen
  • Solar control front door glass
  • Privacy rear glass
  • Sunrooof
  • Quad projector LED headlights
  • ‘Seamless Horizon’ front parking light
  • LED indicators
  • Handsfree powered tailgate
  • Head-up display
  • Bose 8-speaker premium sound system
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Cloth knit headliner
  • Leather-appointed upholstery
  • 10-way power driver’s seat with memory
  • 8-way power front passenger’s seat
  • Premium relaxation front seats
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated rear outboard seats

All Hyundai Kona Electric variants also come standard with a five-year subscription to Bluelink connected car services.

Available functions include:

  • Connected satellite navigation
  • Point of interest send to car (inc. charging station)
  • Voice control system
  • Remote climate control, charging and charging port
  • Charging schedule
  • Scheduled climate control
  • DC/AC charging limits
  • Energy consumption monitoring
  • Charging alarm
  • Distance-to-empty monitor
  • Charging status

Is the Hyundai Kona safe?

The new Kona recently received a four-star ANCAP safety rating, based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP.

It received 80 per cent for adult occupant protection, 83 per cent for child occupant protection, 64 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 60 per cent for safety assist.

To get a five-star rating overall, a car needs to receive scores of above 80 per cent in adult and child occupant protection and above 70 per cent for vulnerable road user protection and safety assist.

Standard safety features include:

  • 7 airbags
  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
    • Pedestrian detection
    • Cyclist detection
    • Motorcycle detection
    • Junction assist
  • Evasive steering assist
  • Blind-spot assist
  • Safe Exit Warning
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Driver attention warning
  • Intelligent Speed Limit Assist
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane Following Assist
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop and go
  • Rear occupant alert
  • Front, rear parking sensors
  • Tyre pressure monitoring

Kona Electric Premium adds:

  • Rear AEB
  • Blind-Spot View Monitor
  • Surround-view camera
  • Front, side, rear parking sensors
  • Remote Smart Parking Assist

How much does the Hyundai Kona cost to run?

The Hyundai Kona Electric is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, while it’s high-voltage battery pack is covered by an eight-year, 160,000km warranty.

Logbook servicing is required every 24 months or 30,000km, whichever comes first. The first three services are also capped at $520.

CarExpert’s Take on the Hyundai Kona

The Kona Electric is a solid stepping stone from petrol to electric power.

Where some of its rivals go out of their way to be different, the Kona is reassuringly conventional in how it goes about its business.

It’s also improved significantly over the first-generation car, which had trouble taming its torque, was tight in the back seats and boot, and was expensive alongside its better-rounded rivals.

You can feel a but coming, right? I don’t know that the Electric Premium makes all that much sense, given how well equipped the base Extended Range is for $10,000 less.

It’s nicer inside, and the extra camera hardware and safety kit is unquestionably welcome, but the Extended Range is incredibly well rounded.

There’s no reason not to buy the Premium if you really want the extra kit, but it’s worth looking closely at the bigger Ioniq 5 given it’s actually $3000 cheaper if you do have closer to $70k to spend on an electric Hyundai.

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