Hyundai Kona Electric review (2024): Even better or dethroned?

The Hyundai Kona is an SUV that’s been around since 2018 and has proven to be a popular choice among consumers due to it being affordable, compact and feature-packed. We were left impressed by both the original and facelift variants of the Kona Electric, as at the time of review, in 2020 and 2022 respectively, there weren’t many better options. However, now in its second generation, there are a plethora of alternatives in the all-electric space – all of which are competing for the same market share.

If you’d prefer to watch a review of the Hyundai Kona Electric, head on over to our YouTube channel.

Hyundai Kona Electric price & competition

At the time of writing and in the UK, the fully electric Kona is available in four trims: Advance from £34,995 and £38,595, N Line from £40,395, N Line S from £43,095, and the Ultimate trim, which we have on review from £43,095.

All trims are available with a 65.4 kWh battery pack, however, the entry-level Advance is also available with a smaller 48.4 kWh battery pack configuration, which explains why it’s offered at two price points. A breakdown of the differences can be found below (click to expand):

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In terms of the alternatives, there are quite a few all-electric SUVs to consider: the Fiat 600e from £29,995; MG ZS EV from £30,495Citroen e-C4 from £30,569Citroen e-C4 X from £31,610Kia Soul EV from £32,875; Hyundai Kona Electric from £34,995; Jeep Avenger from £35,700Peugeot e-2008 from £36,500Kia Niro EV ‘2 64’ from £37,325; BYD Atto 3 from £37,596; Vauxhall Mokka-e from £37,610; Skoda Enyaq iV from £40,585; Volkswagen ID.4 from £42,640Hyundai Ioniq 5 from £43,445BMW iX1 from £44,560Tesla Model Y from £44,990Kia EV6 from £45,275; Peugeot e-3008 from £45,850; and the Audi Q4 40 e-tron from £50,745. You’ve also got the MG5 EV, an all-electric estate that starts from £30,995.

Read next: Kia Niro EV review: An upgraded e-Niro?

Hyundai Kona Electric exterior review

From the exterior, the second-generation Kona really stands out, especially over the previous iterations of Hytundai’s vehicles. It reminds us of Robocop, with its headlight design that stretches the width of the vehicle. It’s quite snazzy too thanks to the striking lines present at the side of the vehicle. 17″ alloys are fitted in the Advance, while the other trims have larger 19″ rims instead. At the rear, you still have a sleek look thanks to the elongated taillights, integrated spoiler and bumper, all of which come together to provide a cohesive design. Looks are subjective, but we do feel most will agree that it’s a big step up over the previous generation models.

In terms of your colour options, it comes as standard in the solid ‘Engine Red’, which is a little ironic given it’s a fully electric vehicle. Should you want to change it, the other solid finish is ‘Atlas White’ which will set you back £325, while the metallic and pearl options, such as the pictured ‘Shimmering Silver’  will cost an additional £650.

Elsewhere, the new Kona has a roof load capacity of 100kg, thanks to the integrated rails that come fitted as standard across the trim range. Towing capacity, however, is pretty poor with the 48.4 kWh model only capable of 300kg for braked and unbraked trailers, while the 65.4 kWh model is capable of just 750kg and 300kg, respectively.

Read next: Audi Q4 e-tron review: Best electric Audi?

Hyundai Kona Electric interior review

Inside, the new Kona still looks futuristic but does feature some harsh plastic by the doors, dashboard and centre console. Comparing it to some of the alternatives on the market, it doesn’t feel as premium but it’s certainly far more practical than the vast majority of its rivals. Indeed, Hyundai has retained physical buttons on the steering wheel and dedicated climate control settings – the latter is very much appreciated as it’s far easier to use while on the move. The drive selector is intuitive to use, thanks to a stalk found behind the steering wheel, which can be swivelled up or down to change modes.

Its more traditional design doesn’t mean that the manufacturer has forgotten about technology, as towards the centre of the dashboard there is an angled 12.3″ display. The infotainment system is extremely responsive, intuitively laid out and supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay over a wired and wireless connection.

Reax next: Smart #1 review: The best new EV?

Better still, turn-based navigation data from these mobile operating systems is fed through to the somewhat customisable 12.3″ instrument cluster. Should you opt for the N Line S or Ultimate trims, you’ll also find this information shown on the Head-Up Display (HUD). An excellent addition by the automaker as it promotes driving safety.

In these more expensive trims you’ll also find a punchy Bose audio system that adds a centre speaker and a subwoofer over the stock six-speaker setup. If you’d like to hear how the Bose system performs, watch our dedicated review on YouTube.

Hyundai Kona Electric storage review

To attain the utmost audio quality, you’ll want to be plugged in. Two USB Type-C ports reside at the front of the centre console, with one of them able to switch between delivering power only or working with the infotainment system. Here, you’ll also find a 12V socket for a dash cam and smartphone wireless charger, which comes fitted as standard on almost all the trims apart from the Advance; it can be added for £600 as part of the Comfort Pack. A further two USB Type-C ports can be found at the rear of the centre console.

Storage within the new Kona has been expanded, with the glove box optimised for right-hand drive vehicles, a small area above it making it convenient for the front passenger, and a large open area towards the centre console that can be customised with the retractable cupholders and plastic inserts. A small tray is found under the centre armrest too.

It is a shame, however, that none of these areas have been lined in fabric or have a non-slip coating, as it means loose change or keys will be heard rattling around when you’re driving on uneven terrain. The same could be said about all of the doors bins; the front two are large enough to accommodate a 500ml bottle alongside some valuables, while the rear two are unsurprisingly a little bit more limited. There is, however, a pulldown armrest at the rear of the cabin which reveals two cupholders.

Read next: Peugeot e-308 review: Can it compete with its rivals?

As for its boot capacity, the new Kona offers a sizeable 466 litres with the seats up and 1,300 litres with them folded flat. Not quite class-leading figures, but its boot is large enough for weekly shops and should suffice for most consumers. It’s great to see that it’s larger than the first-generation Kona, which sat at 332 and 1,114 litres, respectively.

Here’s how it stacks up to some of its competitors: Tesla Model Y (854/2,100 litres); Peugeot e-3008 (588/1,663 litres); VW ID.5 (549/1,561 litres); VW ID.4 (543/1,575 litres); Hyundai Ioniq 5 (520/1,587 litres); Audi Q4 e-tron (520/1,490 litres); Citroen e-C4 X (510/1,360 litres); Kia EV6 (490/1,300 litres); MG ZS EV (448/1,375 litres); Kia Niro EV (475/1,392 litres); Peugeot e-2008 (434/1,467 litres); BYD Atto 3 (440/1,338 litres); Kia Soul EV (315/1,339 litres); Citroen e-C4 (380/1,250 litres); Peugeot e-308 (361/1,271 litres); Fiat 600e (360/1,231 litres); Smart #1 (421/989 litres); Jeep Avenger (355/1,053 litres); Vauxhall Mokka-e (310/1,060 litres); GWM Ora Funky Cat (228/858 litres). As for the MG5 EV estate, it offers 479 and 1,367 litres, respectively.

In terms of practicality, there’s a hatchback design, with 40:20:40 (60:40 in the Adnvace) rear-split folding seats, a flat loading bay and a large underfloor compartment that will easily accommodate the vehicle’s charging cables. Aside from the Advance trim, an electric tailgate comes fitted as standard too.

It’s also great to see that the automaker has optimised the front of the vehicle, with an additional 27 litres of capacity. It’s not as accessible as the boot as it needs to be manually opened, but the addition of a frunk is still very much appreciated.

Read next: Tesla Model Y review: Best electric SUV?

Hyundai Kona Electric comfort review

When it comes to comfort, the seats are all accommodating and soft. Headroom and legroom at the front of the cabin are a non-issue, however, at the rear, the latter is a little bit more limited. Despite Hyundai optimising the rear footwell with a near-flat design and integrating reclining seats, 6-foot (182cm) individuals might still feel a little uncomfortable on longer journeys.

Given its price tag, you might expect heated and electronically-controlled front seats as standard across the trim range, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel are not present in the entry-level Advance trim, but can be added as part of the £600 Comfort Pack.

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Electronic controls and ventilated front seats are present in N Line S and Ultimate trims only, while the Lux Pack (at £2,150 and £1,600, respectively) adds premium relaxation seats and a memory function for the driver’s seat. The Lux pack in the N Line S also adds a sunroof, while it comes as standard in the Ultimate trim, thus explaining the cheaper price tag of the Lux Pack.

As for cabin noise, it’s pretty good, although, at higher speeds, one will be able to hear wind deflecting off the A-pillars and a little bit of low-end resonance creeping in when traversing uneven terrain. In our tested press vehicle there was also some wind coming in from one of the door seals.

Read next: Citroen e-C4 X review: A blended e-C4 & C5 X?

Hyundai Kona Electric performance review

This leads us to driving comfort, which has been hampered over the previous generation model due to the inclusion of a slightly stiffer suspension setup. Speed bumps, anomalies and potholes can be heard and felt a bit more through the seats, and while it’s not as stiff as some of the alternatives out there, we wish Hyundai had preserved a softer configuration in the family-orientated Kona.

Of course, there is an advantage to having a firmer ride and that is not much body roll. When driving at speed on winding country roads, the Kona is planted to the ground giving you confidence when cornering. It’s further heightened with the steering wheel feeling more responsive and providing feedback; indeed, it feels as if Hyundai has tweaked the second-generation model to give you a heightened driver’s feel. Make no mistake, however, it’s not going to compete with some of the sportier SUVs on the market. Still, that level of connection with the front axle will be appreciated by some.

Speaking of which, the new Kona isn’t the fastest electric vehicle. The 48.4 kWh and the 65.4 kWh models have a single motor planted on the front ankle. The former has 114.6 kW of power (154 hp) and 255 Nm of torque, while the latter that we have on review has 160 kW of power (215 hp) and 255 Nm of torque. Using Racelogic’s Performance Box Touch we had it tested from 0-20mph in 2.29 seconds, 0-30mph in 3.52 seconds; 0-60mph in 7.46 seconds; 50-70mph in 3.22 seconds and clocked in a peak acceleration of 0.48g. Top speed is limited to 101mph in the 48.4 kWh model and 107mph in the 65.4 kWh variant.

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Despite not providing an exhilarating driving experience over rival electric SUVs, namely those that have an all-wheel drive (AWD) configuration, the Kona is still plenty fast and will suffice for the vast majority of consumers. Those who remember the original Kona will also be pleased to know that there is no longer any front wheel spin or torque steer; this is due to Hyundai reducing the total torque output, which results in the front wheels having better traction even when full power is required.

It is a shame, however, that the brakes don’t provide much confidence. Despite featuring ventilated discs at the front and a solid system at the rear, they require you to know the vehicle’s stopping distance, which obviously isn’t something you can do in an emergency situation.

Hyundai Kona rear

As for its electric range, the manufacturer claims one can attain 234 miles in the 48.4 kWh model and 282-319 miles in the 65.4 kWh variant. Across the trim range, a heat pump comes included as standard, which is very much appreciated for colder weather climates as it bolsters efficiency. From our own mixed driving tests, however, the second-generation Kona only managed 205-225 miles, which coincidentally is identical to what we achieved in its Kia counterpart, the Niro EV.

Its electric range isn’t too shabby, however, considering the older generation model achieved 260 miles in the same tests, it would seem the new Kona has regressed in performance.

For context here’s how it compares to some of its competitors: 325 miles in the VW ID.5; 275-295 miles in the Peugeot e-3008; 270-290 miles in the Smart #1; 250-280 miles in the Tesla Model Y Long Range; 260 miles in the Kia Soul EV (with heat pump), Audi Q4 e-tron, and VW ID.4 (no heat pump); 240-260 miles in the Kia EV6 RWD; 230-250 miles in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 AWD and MG ZS EV Long Range; 210-230 miles in the MG5 EV and BYD Atto 3; 200-220 miles in the Fiat 600e and Jeep Avenger; 180-200 miles in the Citroen e-C4 and e-C4 X; 170-190 miles in the Peugeot e-308; 150-170 miles in the Vauxhall Mokka-e; and 140-160 miles in the Peugeot e-2008 and GWM Ora 03.

However, what is impressive, especially in comparison to the vast majority of alternatives out there is that Hyundai provides a multitude of ways of recouping energy while back on the move. Here, regenerative braking can be set via the infotainment system, with Strong, Medium and Soft settings available. These are accessed via the ‘Auto’ mode, which is initiated by holding the right-side flappy paddle found behind the steering wheel for a few seconds. Hold it down again and it’ll switch to the annual modes: level 1, 2, and 3. This gives you greater control in determining the level of deceleration you want when lifting off the accelerator pedal.

There is also i-Pedal mode, which gives you full one-pedal driving. This means you can lift off the accelerator pedal and come to a complete standstill without having to use the physical brake pedal. Extremely handy if you’re driving around town. While handy, it’s a shame that i-Pedal mode isn’t retained when you power off the vehicle, meaning you have to reinitiate it each time you step inside the cabin. A similar complaint we had of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Hyundai Ioniq 6, Kia EV6, Kia Niro EV, Genesis GV60 and Genesis Electrified GV70, all of which also feature i-Pedal mode.

Aside from recouping energy while on the move, you can of course plug it in. The 48.4 kWh model can take up to 74 kW of input via its CCS port, while the 65.4 kWh variant 102.3 kW. Both have a 10.4 kW onboard charger, which is useful for the Type 2 port.

Connected to a 100 kW charger, both battery pack models will go from 10-80% charge in 1 hour and 22 minutes. Using a 50 kW charger instead, the 48.4 kWh takes 1 hour 38 minutes while the 65.4 kWh model, 1 hour 40 minutes.

As for an AC charge point, the smaller battery pack Kona will take 4 hours from 0-100% when connected to a 11kW three-phase charger, while the larger model 5 hours and 24 minutes. Using a regular 7 kW wallbox, these times extend up to 6 and 8 hours respectively. If you can’t use a wallbox, connected up to a regular 3-pin power socket, the vehicles will take 18 hours 24 minutes and 24 hours and 48 minutes to achieve a full charge.

You can also discharge the battery pack, as the new Kona supports Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) technology. This allows you to charge another electric vehicle (at a rate of 2.3 kW) or better still, power household appliances such as a kettle or coffee machine via the 3-pin port found at the rear of the centre console – useful if you go camping.

Read next: Volkswagen ID.5 review: Germany’s best electric SUV?

Hyundai Kona Electric safety review

When it comes to safety, the Kona achieved 4/5 stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. It scored 80% in Adult Occupancy, 83% in Child Occupancy and 60% in Safety Assist. Rather surprising as the older generation model, which was tested in 2017 and validated in 2020 for the facelift, achieved 5/5 stars – it scored 87%, 85% and 60%, respectively.

Tests aside, the new Kona has numerous driver-assistance systems fitted as standard across the entire trim range: Cruise Control – Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop and Go Function, Driver Status Monitor (DSM), Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA 1.5) – Car, Pedestrian, Cycle and Junction Turning, Highway Drive Assist (1.5), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Follow Assist (LFA), Leading Vehicle Departure Alert (LVDA) and Lane Keep Assist (LKA). It’s great that LKA can be easily disabled by long-pressing the steering button found on the steering wheel; particularly useful if you live near country roads, as LKA is enabled each time you power on the vehicle.

However, it’s rather frustrating that both ISLA and DSM also get enabled, meaning you’ll have to faff around with the infotainment system each time, should you want these disabled. We point this out as DSM is rather sensitive, while ISLA often picks up the wrong speed limit on country roads; both constantly beep and bong when the vehicle thinks the conditions have been met.

In the N Line S and Ultimate trims, you also get Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCA) and Blind Spot View Monitor (BVM), both of which are very much appreciated with the latter system integrating the side cameras into the instrument cluster allowing you to quickly check your blind spot without having to take your eyes off the road.

The more expensive models can also be fitted with Highway Drive Assist (2.0), which adds further steering support on the motorway. You’ll find this comprised within the Lux Pack for an additional £2,150 in the N Line S and £1,600 in the Ultimate trim.

When it comes to parking, all models have front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera fitted as standard. The N Line S and Ultimate trims add: Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Parking Distance Warning – Side, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist – Reverse (PCA-R), Safe Exit Warning (SEW) and Surround View Monitor (SVM). The addition of lateral and 360-degree cameras gives greater confidence when parking in a tight space.

Speaking of which, visibility is pretty good around the cabin, with large front, side and rear windows allowing you to check your surroundings with ease. A rear wiper is also included, which is handy if you frequent muddy terrain. In terms of manoeuvrability, the new Kona has a 10.6-metre turning circle and a light steering wheel, making it a breeze to park even though it’s a touch longer and wider than its predecessor. The second generation model is 4355mm long and 2100mm wide (incl mirrors), while the first generation model comes in at 4205mm and 2070mm, respectively.

Hyundai Kona review

Read next: BYD Atto 3 review: Not your ordinary EV

TotallyEV’s verdict on the Hyundai Kona Electric

Overall, the new Hyundai Kona Electric is a pretty competent all-electric SUV that’s feature-packed, practical, spacious, stylish, loaded with technology and driver assistance systems, and fun to drive. However, it fails to stand out over a few of its rivals due to its somewhat lacklustre electric range and stiffened suspension setup. Still, it’s worth considering the new Kona for its qualities.

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What do you make of the electric SUV? Let us know in the comments section below or via social media; we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, X and LinkedIn.

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