Hyundai is ready to launch its new Hyundai Kona electric SUV in our market. What will the Indian version be like and what does it have to offer? We answer all that and more
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Introduction
With the new trend of electrification and hybridisation sweeping across the automobile industry, a whole host of manufacturers are scrambling to get their next best, and greatest electric/hybrid model out on showroom floors. Not only are these manufacturers rushing to introduce these models in developed nations, but they’re also now looking to create the infrastructure in these countries to ensure success for their EVs. Being the first electric car from Hyundai in India, the Kona was first showcased at the MOVE summit in New Delhi and announced its launch to happen by July 2019. Well, it appears Hyundai has kept to its word, and the new Kona has inched closer to launch. The car has been spotted under heavy camouflage by our friend Prasanna Venkatesan, who caught the EV on camera in Chennai. The electric SUV was spotted very close to the Hyundai’s Indian headquarters.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Exterior & design
While it boasts a modern design, the new Hyundai Kona has the company’s design DNA etched into every single angle of its body. With the cascading closed-off grille, sweeping roofline, large alloys, muscular arches, angular design lines and two-tone paint job, the new Kona has all the means to get second looks from every passing head, if not three. While the Kona SUV isn’t an all-electric model, it does share its body and platform with those that run on petrol or diesel engine. However, notice carefully, and you’ll notice even between these, there is a subtle design change to differentiate the electric from those that run on an internal combustion engine. The first and most noticeable is the grille, which in the former has a closed-off look with a flappy opening for the charging port and the latter gets a traditional trapezoidal-shaped mesh. The second difference is that the electric-powered Kona gets more aerodynamically-styled 17-inch alloy wheels as compared to the standard ones on the rest of the range.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Interior & features
As stylish as the Kona is to look from the outside, the car is even more of a treat for those seated inside. The attractive five-seater gets a modern, well-laid out cabin which gets premium quality materials and upmarket upholstery. Being a Hyundai, you should expect the cabin to be well-built but also have its share of cost-saving measures in the form of hard plastics. Getting to the features list on the international versions of the Kona, that is where the car shines. While Tesla, Mercedes and Jaguar, all have premium electric vehicles in their line-ups which have as much technology as a spaceship in the 60s, they all cost about the same too. The Kona, on the other hand, gets a whole host of luxury niceties and undercuts all of the above on price, by a significant margin. Some of the tech features on the Kona include 8-inch touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Infiniti premium audio system, a heads-up display for speed, navigation and other vehicle information and BlueLink mobile app which can be used to control a whole host of features remotely.
On the other hand, the Kona also gets a lot of technologically advanced convenience features like shift-by-wire button-style gear position selector, heated seats, a heated steering wheels, auto AC with automatically controlled air vents, 8-way adjustable drivers-side seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers. While the Kona is an extremely well-endowed SUV in terms of entertainment and convenience features, Hyundai has stuffed the Kona to the gills with high-tech safety features as well. How many of these will make it to the final production car in India is still unknown, but there’s no denying the benefit of each of these in our jam-packed, sense-less traffic conditions. These safety features include Forward Collision Avoidance assist to help prevent pedestrians or rear-end collisions, lane departure warning system to tell you if you stray from your lane, Lane Keeping assist to assist in steering input if you do stray, line spot collision warning to help you monitor your blind spots, driver attention warning system to monitor driver behaviour against fatigue and drowsiness, high beam assist and a rear cross-traffic collision warning system to help you avoid mishaps when backing out of a tight parking space. While the interior design and features are a big part of what makes the Kona so special, its what is under the hood or should I say, under the floorboard which makes the car a shining light.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Specs & driving range
Yes, the new Hyundai Kona looks as good with its sleek coupe-like styling and is as generously packed as a mid-size luxury sedan but where the Kona’s strengths lie is with its engines. The electric SUV packs a lot of its punch from under the hood. The SUV gets its power from a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery, which is aligned vertically under the floorboard. The car is available with two battery pack options which offer different levels of power and range. The base variant gets a 39 kWh battery with a company-claimed driving range of 345 kilometres. This cheaper variant is what India is most likely to get but is not a slouch, by any mean. In this state of tune, the battery develops 134bhp and a peak torque of 395 Nm, which is available the instant you step on the throttle. The second choice which customers in international markets get is a higher variant which gets a 64 kWh battery. In this version, the Kona gets a claimed driving range of 546 kilometres and its primary focus being that of extended driving range. This being so, power figures only get a slight bump up to 202bhp, while torque figures remain the same at 395Nm. To provide the best range possible from the juice it has in its cells, the Kona also features regenerative braking for the extra driving range. This is operated via the braking paddles which are located behind the steering wheels and is at the operator’s discretion. Drivers can vary the level of motor drag, via these paddles, from zero being none to three being the strongest. The car automatically selects the default level at one, which slows but doesn’t stop the vehicle, unless it is travelling at a very low speed. On the other hand, holding the left paddle down will bring the Kona Electric to a complete stop and will generate drag which is equivalent to 0.25g of deceleration.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Charging times
While the Kona offers enough driving range to travel the width of some small countries, the car does require topping up of currents from time-to-time. Facilitating this need, both versions of the Hyundai Kona get a honking 7.2 kW battery charger onboard charger. As for standard charging time, it takes just a little over 6 hours to charge the base variant and around 9.5 hours to top up the current in the higher variant. But, if you find yourself to be in a hurry at times and would rather pay extra for faster charging, you are in luck. Hyundai has the solution for that annoyance as well. The Kona also gets an option of a larger 100 KW fast charger which will allow you to juice up the batteries in the Kona up to 80 per cent faster than the standard 7.2KW charger. As a result, your waiting time is cut to 54 minutes on the base variant and 75 minutes for the higher variant. For us Indian though, there is some sad news on that front. It should be mentioned that charging times mentioned above were as tested by Hyundai in Europe. The time it will take to charge in India will differ greatly, and the 100KW fast charger will not be an option altogether in the Indian-spec Kona.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric: Expected launch & prices
When the Hyundai Kona Electric comes to our shores, it will be the first of its kind from the company that many feel is the best international VFM brand in India. Being a CBU unit and despite the relaxed taxes from the government, we expect the car to be priced in the range of INR 20 lakh to INR 25 lakh (ex-showroom). However, the brand itself knows that the SUV will be bought by extreme loyalists and environmentalists. Hence, it has already announced expectations of selling just around 50-60 units a month.