The original Hyundai Kona Electric re-defined the market for affordable electric vehicles (EVs) when it was launched in 2018. This new second generation version is larger, smarter, far more sophisticated and, because it's been priced very reasonably, we think it's one of the best Motability EVs you could pick.
The new second generation Hyundai Kona Electric starts at £399 Motability Advance Payment (section updated November 2023).
Hyundai didn't invent the mainstream EV market but back in 2018, it introduced one of the two models usually credited with popularising it, the Kona Electric. That first generation version, updated in 2020, was a clone of the other key EV of the time, the similarly-sized Kia e-Niro, a fellow Hyundai Group model that shared all the same engineering. Like that full-battery Niro, the original Kona Electric was a derivative of the combustion model. This second generation Kona Electric though, is now the design core around which entire Kona range is these days based. Hybrid versions still exist: but they'll be out-sold by this full-battery variant this time round - in ever-increasing numbers.
Even the old EV model accounted for four in every ten Konas sold in Europe, so hopes are high for this 'upscaled' MK2 version. Hyundai says the car was developed based on lessons learnt from their larger avant-garde IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6 EVs, though unfortunately, it doesn't get the advanced ultra-rapid charging 800V electrical architecture that sets those two models apart in their respective segments. This is because the new K3 platform this second generation Kona Electric runs on (shared with the current Niro EV) wasn't developed for that. Much else about this car though, is satisfyingly avant-garde. Let's take a closer look.
Though this second generation Kona Electric shares its new K3 platform with its close cousin and nearest class rival, the Kia Niro EV, surprisingly it doesn't share that car's electric motor and battery system. The differences aren't huge mind you: a 65.4kWh battery (0.6kWh bigger than the one in the Kia) and an electric motor with 214bhp (it's 201bhp in the Niro EV). But it's enough to make acceleration feel a tad more urgent. And crucially, for the driving range to be raised to a class-leading 319 miles with 17-inch wheels (36 miles more than the Niro EV). If you don't need to go that far between charges, Hyundai also offers the Kona Electric with a smaller 48.4kWh battery, a feebler 154bhp electric motor and a reduced range of 212 miles. With both versions, a standard heat pump should preserve those range figures in really cold weather. 0-62mph in the 65.4kWh version takes 7.8s en route to 107mph.
As with the combustion mild hybrid and full-Hybrid Kona variants, you can expect a big refinement improvement thanks to the sleek aerodynamics and lessons Hyundai says it's learned from the slippery IONIQ 6. The drag coefficient here is a slippery 0.27Cd - about the same as the old Toyota GT86 sports coupe. Lots of effort went into that figure: the front bumper for instance, wraps around the front of the car a bit like a rocket's nose cone. And the panel joints are pushed right back along the wings, which means that they don't take the full force of the airflow over the front of the car, so there's less turbulence. In addition, an active shutter has been fitted to the front grille that blocks the opening when that isn't required for cooling.
Hyundai has developed a new version of its 'i-Pedal' system, which allows selectable amounts of brake energy recuperation via steering wheel-mounted paddles. With the highest level of brake regen selected, the car will slow very noticeably off-throttle, almost down to a stop. There's a 'N Line' trim package available, but Hyundai says it has no plans for a full high-performance N version like the one it's developed for the larger IONIQ 5.
Designing a car from scratch primarily as electric vehicle ought to make it significantly different from a model created for combustion. On an EV, the wheelbase is usually longer, so passenger space can be greater, particularly in the rear seat where there can be a flatter floor. Another common mark of a full EV platform is a 'frunk' - the use of under-bonnet space for extra cargo storage. Because, unlike its predecessor, this MK2 Kona was primarily designed as an EV, all these hallmarks are in evidence. And they make this second generation Kona electric considerably easier to live with than the first.
The looks here have evolved too, though not perhaps by quite as much as you would expect given the more sophisticatedly electrified K3 underpinnings. This full-electric Kona hasn't been visually differentiated from its combustion mild and full-Hybrid stablemates in any significant way. So, as with those variants, this is now significantly larger car. True, it's still slightly smaller than its Kia Niro EV close cousin but compared to the original Kona Electric, this 4.35-metre-long version is 175mm longer and 25mm wider, sitting 20mm higher. It's also far more aerodynamic and, in its own way, quite eye-catching thanks to expensive touches like the full-width front light bar. Big 17, 18 or 19-inch wheels add the finishing touch.
Inside, the cabin is vastly different from the rather cramped, plasticky affair served up before. Material quality has taken a big step forward and it all feels a lot more spacious, helped by the relocation of the main driving controls from the centre console to a steering column stalk. Upper-spec models feature a pair of joined 12.3-inch screens and a head-up display. The things you regularly interact with like the door handles, the switchgear and the steering wheel now feel considerably more solid.
Where you really notice the extra space of this MK2 model (and its 60mm wheelbase length increase) though, is in the rear. Head room and knee room, both restricted with the previous Kona Electric (even by modest class standards) are now far more acceptable. And as you'd hope, there's more boot space too, luggage capacity for this Electric version having jumped from 332 to 466-litres (extendable to 1,300-litres if you fold the rear bench). Plus as we said earlier, with this EV variant, there's an extra compartment under the bonnet (27-litres in size) to store the charging leads.
For this second generation Kona Electric there's a choice of four trim levels - base 'Advance', mid-level 'N Line', then 'N Line S' and top 'Ultimate'. If you want the smaller (and cheaper) 48kWh battery, you'll need 'Advance' trim.
Whatever version you choose, you should find it to be very well equipped. All variants get large alloy wheels with rims at least 18-inches in size, as well as roof rails and front and rear LED lights. Interior features include air conditioning, tinted glass, cruise control with a speed limiter and 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto 'smartphone-mirroring. But you'll need to buy in at the top of the range to get the sophisticated joined twin 12.3-inch dashboard screens that the brand makes so much of. This media system features over-the-air updates and has built-in technology that in future could allow the brand to launch a subscription-based service for things like heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
You can add a household socket in the back which will allow you to do things like charge your laptop as you drive to work. Safety features are well up to class standards, all models getting 'Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian detection', 'Lane Keep Assist', 'Driver Attention Alert' and the brand's clever 'Lane Follow Assist' and 'Leading Vehicle Departure Warning' alert systems. Plus there's Tyre Pressure Monitoring and an 'eCall' emergency button that'll activate automatically to inform the rescue services should any of the front, front side and curtain airbags inflate.
We gave you the top 65.4kWh battery version's class-leading 319 mile range figure in our 'On The Road' section (that's with 17-inch wheels; it's 269 miles with 19-inch wheels). We also gave you the 212 mile figure for the lesser 48.4kWh variant. There's a claimed energy efficiency of 4.1 miles per kWh if you select the car's 'Long Range' driving mode. This improved Kona Electric also provides customers with faster charging options, with an increased DC fast charging capability of 102.3kW compared to the previous generation's 75kW maximum. For the 65.4kWh version, expect the battery recharging times to be pretty much the same as the Kia Niro EV. For that, recharging from 10 to 80% at a public rapid charger takes as little as 45 minutes. And topping up the battery from an 11kW garage wallbox takes six hours 20 minutes.
A class-leading level of electric driving range ought to be enough to sell any EV and this one, as promised, backs that up with a design 'upscaled' in both size and quality. Hyundai's decision not to merely clone what's available from this model's Niro EV close cousin is interesting (unlike that Kia, there's an entry-level battery option, a larger main battery and no Plug-in Hybrid variant). It's a rather sensible approach on this Korean maker's part.
From an electric car that this time combines sense with a good deal more style. If the looks suggest evolution over the earlier model, the reality is more of a revolution. Enough to bring this Kona Electric onto the wish lists of people who'd never have considered its blander predecessor. Compact EVs are getting better and to get a feel for just how quickly that's happening, you've only to try this one.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Hyundai Kona Electric through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Hyundai dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these Hyundai Kona Electric models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: