If you could judge how good a car is by the amount of attention it gets, then the Hyundai Kona Electric would go to the top of the class. Admiring glances and conversations with curious passers-by were the order of the day.
Refreshed for 2021, the Kona looks slicker than ever and is still one of the most competitively priced long-range EVs on the market.
Starting at £27,950 (price includes £2,500 Plug In Car Grant), this cool crossover is available with either a 39KWh battery pack (giving a range of up to 189 miles) or the more expensive 64KWh version (up to 300 miles).
Our test car was fitted with the larger battery/electric motor combo, giving an output of 201bhp, which results in a 0-62mph of 7.9 seconds. Naturally, CO2 emissions are zero.
A full charge at home using a 7kW wall box takes around nine hours 15 minutes in the 64kWh model, while an 80% charge can take as little as 47 minutes at a 100kW DC charging station, or about an hour at a (more common) 50kW charge point.
The best way to differentiate the new Kona from the award-winning outgoing car, which was launched in 2018, is to check out the new-look closed grille, LED daytime running lights, sharper headlights, revised rear lamps and painted wheel arch extensions.
Tech updates include new safety features, though the regular Kona has always boasted a maximum Euro NCAP five stars.
It’s smart inside too with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display, driver’s digital display and dinky little drive selector in the centre console by the double cupholder.
Equipment levels are high with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights, adaptive cruise control, climate control and keyless entry standard with entry-level SE Connect trim.
The top-of-the-range Ultimate’s nice-haves include a head-up display, but £37,200 is steep, so we’d suggest the mid-range Premium with the 64kWh battery option (£32,550) is the way to go.
The cabin is spacious with plenty of head and legroom front and back, while the boot has a useful 332-litre load space, or 1,114 litres available with the rear seats folded, though they won’t go fully flat.
If we had one criticism of the interior it would be that there is a lot of plastic on show and it could be a tad classier like its big brother, the all-new Tucson.
Swift, almost silent, and comfortable, the Kona Electric is a pleasure to drive, and its acceleration will surprise drivers of more powerful conventional cars during traffic light getaways.
Switch from Eco or Normal to Sport mode and it feels livelier, just don’t expect a performance SUV. Drive is through the front wheels and there’s only so much power a relatively tall, heavy-ish crossover can handle, especially in the wet or on loose surfaces.
We’d say Hyundai’s got the balance right. In fact, body control in more challenging corners will impress more spirited drivers.
As with all EVs, smooth driving, warmer weather and avoiding the use of power-hungry items such as heated seats etc will reward you with a higher range.
Making the best use of regenerative braking (which adds charge to the battery by recovering energy otherwise wasted) helps too, and the Kona allows you to use the paddles behind the steering wheel on downhill stretches or coming up to junctions to increase the effect.
Ultimately, a real world range of around 260 miles is very realistic, which is more than enough to get you from London to Manchester, for instance.
Verdict: Refined, well equipped, easy to drive, practical and safe, the sleek new Hyundai Kona Electric turns heads for all the right reasons. Offering great value for money, it offers peace of mind too because it comes with a generous five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, plus an eight-year/125,000-mile battery cover.