Cool Kona is top of EV range
The days of looking for chargers and shepherding an EV to extend battery life are over, writes Campbell Spray
There was just no anxiety. Although, come to think of it, there was a slight nagging feeling at the back of my brain that I should have been worrying about something. I had driven around town and then down the motorway to Wicklow, and, after a foray into the hills, we were now on the way home and that little nag came again. And, as suddenly, went away.
It was only as I was getting out of the all-electric Hyundai Kona in our garage did I realise that I had never even looked at the range indicator during our trip. I had instinctively known that the 440km range from the 64kw battery in the small crossover/SUV would be big enough for any trip that I would make. The days of anxiously looking for chargers and gently shepherding an EV along the road to extend battery life have gone with this attractive Korean number which has the range previously only seen with marques like Tesla and Jaguar.
Here it comes at way less than half the price, although the Kona EV still costs €37,630, which is expensive by Nissan Leaf standards, but comparable to the Electric Golf from Volkswagen. However, its range is far superior to both.
The blend of looks and real-life usability has piloted the Kona to the very top of the electric sales charts for the first 20 days of the year, with 231 purchased, as against 191 for the Leaf (the Europe-wide top seller), 60 for the Renault Zoe and 38 for the Hyundai Ioniq. There's been another 35 sales shared between VW, Tesla, BMW, Jaguar and Renault.
It has also shot the Kona in all its forms to eighth in the overall sales chart with 521 purchases, which leaves it just behind the Skoda Octavia and just ahead of the Ford Fiesta. However, all three are a long way behind the sales leader for the first three weeks of the year, the Hyundai Tucson, which sold 1,137 units compared to 905 for its long-time rival, the Nissan Qashqai, which almost invented the craze for these Crossover/SUVs and at the same time rescued the Japanese brand.
And while I am nerd-like going down the rabbit-hole of sales charts, it would only be fair to point out that Hyundai now sits at the top of the overall league with 2,805 cars sold by January 22, followed by Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota and Nissan, all on either side of 2,000. The overall market is down 12.33pc, however Hyundai sales are up 2.63pc. Others in the top 10 to beat the market are VW, with a very impressive 9.21pc increase, plus Skoda and Peugeot.
That's enough figures, so back to the Kona, which is very impressive to drive and delivers excellent pace in a smooth confident way. It holds the road well and is so easy to drive with buttons for selecting forward, reverse or park. The Kona doesn't have any of the room in the back like its big sisters, the Tucson and Santa Fe. In fact, it's fairly tight in the back, and, with all seats up, the luggage area is adequate but no more. It would suit us fine - it's a great car for couples, both young and old - but not a family with large teenagers or a lot of buggies and equipment.
Once bought, it would be exceptionally cheap to run. For the company employee, as it does not attract any benefit-in-kind tax, it makes perfect sense. Almost like giving somebody a €10,000 rise against a conventionally powered car.
It also would not date like many of the other offerings out there among EVs and plug-in hybrids. People have voted very strongly with their money already this month and Hyundai has got a winner with the Kona, which, with the big upsurge in the sales of overall EVs this year, could herald the real start of the move to electric motoring, if not this year, definitely next.
Anxious days are over.