The Kona Electric does have an interesting look. But has it a real-world performance and range to consider it as an alternative to conventional combustion engine car? The track record of electric cars that is sold in India is doing that great. The ones that are on sale earlier are pretty limited in range. It is not as powerful and with no charging infrastructure to support them, which is kind of impractical.
In terms of electrics, the timing would not have been better for the launch of the Kona Electric. It is Hyundai’s first mainstream EV that comes with a large range and has got a modern practical cabin. Within a span of just 10 days, Hyundai has been getting of over 120 confirmed bookings. This model is available in a single “Premium” variant, at an ex-showroom having price tag of Rs 23.72 lakh at 15 select dealerships across 11 cities in India.
The Kona EV has been getting international success. Post its launch in April 2018, it has been selling over 15000 units globally. It comes with 2 battery choices – 64kWh and 39.2kWh, globally. In India, Hyundai has chosen the smaller and more affordable 39.2 kWh options. It has the company states that it is an ARAI – tested 452 km range. On road price of Rs 25 lakh, the Kona EV is not going to disrupt SUV sales. Is it going to be practical to use? What is the real-world range? What are some of the comforts and luxuries you will have to give up when your money is used for buying highly priced batteries? Let’s delve into knowing about the same through the first test drive.
In India, Hyundai calls the Kona an SUV. With the proportions and the design, it is more of a crossover than a full-fledged SUV. When you tend to compare the dimensions, the Kona is just a size which is bigger than i20 Active. It is kind of Creta-sized. Though it is 1800 mm which is quite wide and has a longer wheelbase. To complete the picture, it has got the 17-inch alloy wheels and there is a proportionate feeling to the car’s size.
The Kona does not backlash when it comes to highlight it as a futuristic vehicle. Up front, you will have the outlook of the LED daytime running lights. It is situated below which are the bi-functional LED projector headlights. Also, you will be able to go through the sealed grille that will be helping the channel get through the air in a better pathway. This further gives Kona EV an overall dragging coefficient of nearly 0.29.
This grille also tends to carry forward the CCS Type 2 charging port. This means that you will be able to park head-on into the charging area parking slot. This plastic grille is badly curated and kind of feel cheap. When you go through the model, you will be able to go through the body cladding over the flared wheel arches. This you will be able to visualize in a better way in the rear, it is an addition to the Kona’s off-roader look. The slime LED tail-lamps mirror the look of the front DRLs and sit on top of the big reversing light.
The Kona Electric sits on a heavily modified version of the combustion-engine Kona’s platform. And there you will be able to get through the MacPherson strut-type suspension up front and has got a top-notch multi-link at the rear. Though the Kona EV has not been proper crash tested by the Global NCAP. It has the regular Kona acquire a 5 star safety rating at the Euro NCAP.
Speaking of the electric version, it makes use of the advanced high-strength steel. When you get to find no engine, gearbox or fuel tank. It has got 39.2kWh, liquid-cooled, lithium-ion polymer battery pack that sits on the floor. You will be able to see the same situated between the 4 wheels, also under the rear set. There are also added precautions implemented to ensure that there is minimum damage when it comes to crash. The high-voltage battery should be curated of 90 cells wired in series to present you with a voltage output 327V. It is connected directly to the motor through a high-voltage orange cable.
Delving into the up-front, there is permanent-magnet which is a synchronous motor. It mainly converts the energy into the mechanical energy that forces the wheels to move forward. The functioning of the same is pretty simple. When the current flows through the windings in the motor, it will generate a magnetic field. This rotates the rotor and generated torque. The torque is further transferred to the wheel with the help of a single-speed reduction gearbox.
If you further get into seeing the bonnet, you get to visualize an on-board charger also known as the OBC as well as electric power control unit or EPCU. Both of them are mounted on the top of the electric motor. The on-board charger helps in the conversion of the external alternating current from your home power supply to direct current in order to charge the high-voltage battery which is situated under the floor.
Furthermore there is an inverter which is a part of the EPCU responsible for the conversion of the DC supply from the battery to AC and sending it directly to the electric motor. This will further help in the generation of the torque to move the vehicle forward. Not only this, while declaration, the electric motor tends to spin in reverse and the otherwise wasted kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy. There is a separate 12V battery which is under for powering the Kona EV’s standard electronics. This includes infotainment, cabin light and way more.
Image Source- Hyundai
As for the price, the Kona Electric has got a small cabin. Speaking of comfort, getting in and out of the seats in the front is not that tough. You have to drop down onto the seats rather than just having to slide onto them like the SUV’s. Once in the driver’s seat, you will get to have a foot frontal visibility. Speaking of the rear visibility, there is not much good thing to experience. And this is all due to the small rear windscreen.
The front seats will present you with ample under-thigh and side support that will help in keeping you in place on corners. Also, the driver’s seat provides you with the 10th way adjustment coming with lumbar support. Finding your perfect driving position becomes a bit easier. Tall drivers might find the headroom to be tight as when you get through the sunroof protrudes into the cabin.
The instrumentation cluster has got a simple layout which is easier to read. There are also important information. This includes range, battery charge, energy flow and different drive modes. If you see through the left, you will have a real-time drive indicator that will show the amount of batter power being used. This is more observable when accelerating and the amount of the energy being recovered during the time of regeneration.
The horizontal layout of the dashboard is fixed and straight. It does not give any glamorous feel. Soft-touch plastics are lesser and the hard plastics do not pave way for a premium feel. The button on the centre console and steering are also not the same. Though they have a pretty nice tactile feel to them. The touchscreen is 7.0-inch situated in the middle. It is small but has got a nice height so you will not have to tilt your hard down for operating the same. The button on the sides of the screen might seem like a very old layout, they make touchscreen operation while driving much easier and safer.
There are ample storage places to keep your day to day stuff. The door pockets are accommodating enough and the glovebox comes to a good size. The centre console has a couple of cupholders, a storage compartment in the armrest and has an enclosed storage space just below the AC controls. Since Kona used buttons instead of levers for changing the transmission modes and has got an electric parking brake, you will get an additional storage space below the console. This space is pretty usable and comes with the 12V charging socket and also a USB charging slot.
If you are going to be chauffeur-driven, there is not much to get into the Kona, as this is not a particularly spacious car. In addition to the same, there is a floor place higher due to the position of the battery below. This results in a knees-up seating position. The space of the legroom is sparse for tall passengers and there is no space to slide your feet below the front seats due to the placement of the rear ventilation ducts underneath. At 332 litres, the boot space is only the size of getting like a hatchback.
Powering the Kona in India is a 136hp electric motor that makes 396Nm of torque. The cabin is kind of silent even when you tend to push the start button and that remains silent. This occurs when you start driving with a light foot.
As a driver, you will get a choice of 4 drive modes including Eco, Eco+, Comfort and Sport. This depends on the way you are willing to drive. When it comes to comfort mode, the car responds well to tap on the accelerate and the drive is effortless and smooth.
A simple foot on the acceleration tends to make the Kona build speed seamlessly. All you need to do is go for a quick overtake is hit through the accelerator pedal in a bit harder. The car further leaps forward with a surprising surge. This paves the way for closing gaps making it traffic easy. Not only this, there is always enough available power.
Switch to Sport mode, the response to accelerator inputs gets sharper. There is an instant flow of power when you flex your right foot. At times, if you are a bit harsh on the throttle, you will get a lot of wheel spin. Speaking of the eco mode, it is more inclined towards city-driving conditions. Though the accelerator inputs are slightly dull, it still provides enough power to drive smoothly. Long-pressing in the drive mode button encourages Eco+. It has got the most energy-efficient model. So mainly the top speed of Kona is restricted to 90 kph and the climate control is switched off and it could be done manually.
What seems more of the Kona? When we put it through ou standard test, the amount of torque available right from the moment you floor the accelerator in way too much. It is especially for the tyres to handle and curates a lot of spinning of wheels. Apart from the same, the EV still gets testing at 0-100 kph time. However, when the traction control is switched on, the torque placed on the road in a clean manner bringing the better time of 9.09 sec. It is quite impressive!
Just like most electric vehicles, the Kona makes use of regenerative braking. Energy acquires from slowing down is stored to the battery. This looks quite similar to engine braking in a regular car. It tends to start to slow down when you lift your foot just off through the accelerator. Kona model additionally provides you with 3 levels of regeneration through paddle shifters on the steering wheel. In the regeneration, the car’s deceleration is very strong as it feels like the brand have been applied all of a sudden. This needs some time to get accustomed to. Level 1 and 2 are more comfortable in that sense that they have been decelerating in the same way just like petrol or diesel cars running. There is no regeneration for level 0. Holding on to the left paddle-shifter bringing the car to a halt and further allowing you to drive the car through just a single pedal.
One of the most important aspects of electric vehicles is charging. Hyundai has kept you covered. On the purchase of the vehicle, you will be given a 2.8kW portable AC charger which you can plug into a normal 3-pin wall socket (16A). This will take around 19 hours for you to charge the car from 0 to 100 percent. You will be presented with 7.2kW wall-mounted AC charger which will be installed at the right location of your choice and it takes nearly 6 hours and 10 mins for a full charge. If you are wanting for an extra wall box charger, you can get the same by paying more Rs 80,000.
Hyundai is working with Indian Oil Corporation for setting up fast DC chargers at different locations globally. There 50kWh DC fast chargers make use of CCS Type 2 connectors and can charge your car from 0 to 80 percent less than a house. For making use of the same in the malls, you will have to purchase the type 3 charging cable with a male and female plug on either side. For now, Hyundai is not providing you with this package. You will have to buy the same from the 3rd party retailers or online portals.
There is the implementation of “Auto” button locks charging cable that puts into car’s port for prevention against theft. The Kona model is tested by ARAI under their standard test conditions. They tend to acquire a range of 452 km. It gives you an average speed of 17 kph, the Kona delivery a maximum range of 324 km. On the best testing drive over the highway, driving at the same speed we conduct the same on petrol and diesel cars, it gives a range of just 295 km which is pretty less than the same available in the city.
The reverse happens with petrol or diesel-powered cards and the reason for the regenerative brake feature. This regeneration happens on a large steady-state highway run. What further helps in the combustion engine-powered cars is their gearing which is often suited to highway speeds. When in Eco mode with regeneration at level 3, the climate control gets switched on as it should be. So it does not get difficult to get a range of close to the 250-300 km mark, all depending on how you tend to drive and how much regeneration you will be able to tolerate.
The Kona rides on a stiff suspension. The reason is that it needs to carry the roughly 320 kg battery along with the rest of the car’s weight. It tends to handle the small potholes and undulation which is reasonable. Big potholes are implemented with a sharp thud. You will get tossed around inside as well. The multi-link rear suspension and the stiff chassis makes the car feel nice and planted around corners. The low centre of gravity results from the under-floor battery which is beneficial. So when it takes its speeds, the Kona feels planted and stable.
The car also gets agile and nimble when it comes from one corner to another. Firstly, the steering does nothing to make you feel connected through the front wheels. And the second fact is, the Nexen N’Fera SU1 215/55 R17 tyres through having a good rolling resistance, the grip is not smooth enough.
The brake does not go great in regeneration mode 2 or 3. It gets better when you reduce regenerative braking. The pedal feel gets vague which is a good thing. With regeneration on 0, you will take trail brake into a corner quite effectively. Kona Electric model has an unladen ground clearance of nearly 172mm. It is not that high but not low either to scrape easily on tall speed breakers.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen has got a crip display and a great user interface. It does not have in-built navigation. It does have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, both of the same support Google Maps. The touch sensitivity is better and the screen is readable even under direct sunlight.
The surprising factor here is that it does not have the functionality of Hyundai’s Blue Link SIM card-based connectivity tech. It displays a lot of car information. This further includes battery status, range, power consumption by various systems (including the motor), driving efficiency on previous trips, and even the reduction in CO2 emissions. This happens driving in comparison to a similar-based conventional petrol-powered car. Not only this, but you can also control various charging aspects from the infotainment unit. This is like setting the percentage till which you want the battery to be charged or even set the appropriate charging current for AC chargers.
Hyundai is offering the Kona EV in just 1 variant and has made sure it is loaded with features to compete with other cars in that price range. Coming to safety, there are 6 airbags. There are also factors where there is electronic stability control, hill-start assist, all-wheel disc brakes, tyre pressure monitoring system, virtual engine sound system, ABS with EBD and much more. There is also the incorporation of Isofix child-seat anchors and rear parking sensors with camera.
For better comfort and convenience, there is incorporation of LED lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, 10-way adjustable powered driver’s seat, heated and cooled front seats, 60:40 split rear seat, auto-dimming inside mirror, heated outside mirrors, cruise control, drive modes, three regenerative braking modes and a wireless phone charger.
Video Source- Zigwheels
Due to reduction n the GST, there has been a drop in the price of Kona to Rs 23. 72 lakh ex-showroom in India. The company offers a 3-year unlimited km standard warranty and also 3 years of roadside assistance. When it comes to the battery pack, you will get an 8 year/1,60,000km warranty as well.
This car model is like any other EV. It takes a step forward the ideal goal of environment-friendly vehicles by acquiring the emission to nil. Even though India has been relying on fossil fuels for electricity production, EV adoption takes a long way in the reduction of carbon emissions.
If that is not about motivation, people expect the cost of electricity for running an EV to be way lower than spending on fuel on a regular car. In simple calculation, the capacity of Kona EV is 39.2 kWh. That means it will need approx of 40 units of electricity for a full charge. An average costing of a single unit of electricity costs of around Rs 8 depending on the service provider. The costing of the full charge is around 40 units x Rs 8 which is equal to 320. The range can lift to 300 km. That makes the cost of driving the Kona 320/300 = Rs 1.1 per km.
Coming to the electric vehicles and its popularity in India is still in infancy. It seems that Kona is the most complete EV to go on sale in India today. It has become a powerful motor which is giving a commendable performance. The time you install your charger at home, the Kona Electric even becomes more practical. The battery will allow you to travel for 250-300 km between charges in the city and charging it costs next to nothing.
There are a few flaws. The interiors don’t feel pretty premium, especially for a Rs 25 lakh car. It gets cramped on the inside. The backseat is not pretty comfortable. The biggest challenge is that Rs 25 lakh can get you one of the best SUVs on sale right in India. Something like a fully loaded Kia Seltor or even a Jeep Compass. If you are still looking for an early adopter of the electric technology. There has been overlooking in terms of size, space, comfort, and added conveniences that petrol and diesel cars still have over EVs, Hyundai Kona Electric could be the very first electric. It sets high bars for the standard for the future EVs meeting our way.
Utsha Roy is an aspiring writer who has been gaining knowledge on various genres. Delving into the different cars and gadget news, she has also engaged herself into showcasing latest vehicles and gadgets news and reviews over Autonmobiles.com
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