Hyundai Kona Electric: owner review
Richard Gledhill started with a range extender but now drives a fully electric car. Here he outlines the pros and cons of his Hyundai Kona...
Car: Hyundai Kona Electric 64kWh Premium SE
Owner's name: Richard Gledhill
"My wife Louise and I were early adopters, buying the electrified Vauxhall Ampera back in 2014. The Ampera was a range-extender, in that it would do 30-40 miles on pure electric power, then used its petrol engine as a generator. The impact of driving something so smooth, quiet, refined and with instant torque was nothing short of a revelation. It was a good compromise until an electric car with a good range became available, because we live in Warwickshire but have family at the far ends of Cornwall, Wales and Devon.
"When the Kona Electric came on the scene with a relatively large 64kWh battery and a genuine range of around 240-280 miles, we realised this was a true milestone in relatively affordable, range anxiety-free electric motoring. We placed a deposit online in September 2018, finally getting the car in May 2019.
"Back then, electric cars were just starting to lose their 'only for early adopters' tag, but we still knew more about the car than the local dealer, who didn't even know it existed! Although the list price was high, when you calculate it over a few years due to low depreciation, almost zero fuel costs and maintenance, it worked out cheaper than a petrol or diesel equivalent.
"The Kona was immediately put to the test with an 800-mile round trip through Devon and into Cornwall. We did our research thoroughly and a few things became clear: the Ecotricity chargers at motorway service stations are hopelessly unreliable for cars with a CCS charger; and most of the charging companies required tedious apps, accounts and pre-payments.
Thankfully, InstaVolt were busy rolling out true contactless charging, where all you need is a credit card or phone with contactless functionality for payment. We decided there and then to exclusively use contactless chargers and have never needed to use anything else. Most charging companies are now coming round to this obvious method of payment.
"The 800-mile trip was a complete breeze and a sign of things to come. With an easy range of 240 miles at motorway speeds and getting up to 300 miles while pottering around in summer, the Kona completely dissolves any range anxiety. We charge at home overnight at 5p/kWh on an EV tariff, which equates to around 1.2p/mile – try doing that in a combustion-engined car! Even paying for rapid chargers while on longer trips is still significantly cheaper than petrol or diesel.
"Since then we have enjoyed a number of long trips with no problems. I'd recommend doing your homework and looking up contactless chargers, and also seeing if anywhere you might stay would be happy to let you charge with the slow mains (3-pin plug) charger while you're there; it might be slow, but it can add 150+ miles overnight.
We have made absolutely no compromises to our holidays or our plans, adding Scotland to our list of places visited in September. Next year we are going to visit an EV exhibition in Holland; we could get there without stopping to charge if we wanted to.
"As for the car itself, it’s simply very nice to be in, particularly in Premium SE specification, which includes nice toys such as a head-up display, automatic adaptive cruise control, heated and vented seats, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking and more. These safety features mean it's cheap to insure – less than £200 per year for both of us including business usage.
It's also very quick away from the lights compared with most cars and doesn't ease back until you're up to the speed limit and beyond. Partly due to the high torque, we changed the factory-fitted cheap summer tyres for decent all-season tyres which gave more grip, a quieter and more controlled ride, and had no loss of range. Later cars (from early 2020) were fitted with better tyres than our originals, though they're still summer tyres.
"We've enjoyed our 12,000 miles in the Kona so much that we swapped our second car, a Toyota Yaris Hybrid, for a run-out edition Renault Zoe last November, so we're now a two electric car family. We've not been to a service station for over a year and have enjoyed trouble-free, zero maintenance motoring for next to no cost.
We both feel it's made us better drivers too, because electric cars are so smooth to drive that you can relax more and concentrate better on what's going on around you. Town driving in particular is far easier. Again, we've made no compromises for having two electric cars and feel no need or desire to have a combustion-engined back-up car.
"So is it all perfect then? Well, not quite; the charging network ranges from the sublime (InstaVolt) to the ridiculous (Ecotricity) so it's vital to use an app like ZapMap and read the users' comments to find which ones are reliable. Also, the range varies a lot more in an electric car than with a petrol or diesel depending on temperature and speed, but you quickly get used to it and the estimate of remaining miles is surprisingly accurate in the Kona.
Really long get-aways require a little planning ahead, but not much these days because the roll-out of rapid chargers is now in full swing, with dozens being added each week. Sometimes the immediate torque from the electric motors can overwhelm the tyres in the wet, but only if you're careless.
"If you're thinking of switching and don't have your own drive or parking space, I would say that unless you have access to charging points near your house or workplace, it's probably best left to enthusiasts who won't mind finding a charger every week or so – though that will change completely over the coming years as car parks and supermarkets install charging points to fill up your car while you shop or grab a coffee.
"If you have somewhere you can get a charge point fitted, however, you should very seriously consider an electric car. Remember that each morning you can effectively start with a full "tank" of fuel, so range only becomes something you need to consider if you are travelling some distance. Even then, the charging network is growing so quickly that you shouldn't be concerned.
"We're now looking at changing the Kona. For a petrol car? No, not even if you paid us! For a Polestar 2, simply because we fancy something posher for a change.
That said, the Kona continues to be a brilliant car with a genuinely big range, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for something fun, quick, easy, relaxing yet fun to drive, with a strong element of practicality, too. The icing on the cake is that it's only depreciated 15% in more than 18 months."
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