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2024 Hyundai Kona Electric – Australian launch (video)

The all-new 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric has arrived in Australia, and it looks set to break through a few benchmarks in the small SUV category thanks to a futuristic design that accommodates more space than ever before, a tech-filled interior, and a good driving range.

Electric vehicle sales are on the rise in the Australia, with 87,217 EVs newly-registered during 2023, according to VFACTS figures. That’s up 161.1 per cent on the year before, and that means against the 1.216 million new vehicles delivered during the year, EVs accounted for around 7.1 per cent of all sales. However, with more and more EVs being introduced, naturally that concentration is going to grow.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium: Specifications

Battery: 64.8kWh lithium-ion, 358V
Output: 150kW / 255Nm
Gearbox: Single-speed auto
Drive type: Front-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 19×7.5, 235/45
ANCAP: Four stars
Weight: 1795kg
Power-to-weight: 8.20:1 (kg:kW)
Official range: 444km (with 19in wheel), 505km (with 16in)
Charging max: 10.4kW AC, 100kW DC
0-60km/h: 4.28 seconds*
0-100km/h: 8.01 seconds*
60-110km/h: 4.96 seconds*
1/4 mile: 16.04 seconds at 147.6km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.535g*
100-0km/h braking: 41.61m in 3.24 seconds*
Max deceleration: -1.199g*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 73*
Starting price: $68,000

*Figures as tested by Driving Enthusiast on the day. Manufacturers’ claims may be different

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-taillights

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric: How much does it cost?

Three variants are on sale in Australia, including an entry ‘Standard Range’ model that features a 48.6kWh battery and 99kW electric motor, offering a range of 370km. This helps bring down the entry price to $54,000.

Above that, there are two versions equipped with a 64.8kWh battery, powering a front motor that develops 150kW and 255Nm. These ‘Extended Range’ models are split into Premium and standard. Prices start from $58,000 and $68,000, respectively.

This isn’t a cheap SUV. A small SUV at that. However, the two entry versions are obviously the best value options here but even so, they pale against the regular Kona. Even the new Kona Hybrid top dog is priced considerably less, from $46,500 for the N Line Premium, with pretty much exactly the same features yet more moving parts.

Just for comparison, let’s take the regular Kona Premium with the front-wheel drive 2.0L petrol. Prices start from $39,500. It offers essentially the same packaging as the Electric Premium, yet the price difference is $28,500.

Even if you could some how recharge the electric version for free, that $28,500 saving with the petrol model could be used for fuel and, based on its official consumption of 6.6L/100km, it’d get you around 200,000km of driving (based on $2/litre) with about $1500 leftover for 5 years worth of petrol station snacks.

That’s about 13.3 years of ownership, based on an average distance of 15,000km per year. Adding in the cost of recharging the electric model only spreads the cost gap wider, in favour of the petrol model. The price of the electric model just doesn’t stack up in our opinion.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-interior

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric: Interior & packaging

Step inside the Kona Electric and you’re greeted with a blend of modernity and spaciousness. The ‘floating’ horizontal dashboard creates a futuristic ambience, complemented by a 12.3-inch digital cluster and multimedia display, housed on one seamless panel.

The touch-screen offers all of the apps and connectivity functions you need, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, in-built sat-nav, digital radio, and live traffic updates via Bluelink connectivity. A six-speaker stereo comes standard while the Premium variant adds an eight-speaker Bose system.

With increased dimensions (150mm longer and 10mm taller) over the predecessor, the new Kona Electric presents a more spacious and versatile cabin than ever before. Second-row passengers are the real winners here, enjoying a remarkable 77mm more legroom, 17mm more shoulder room, and 15mm more headroom compared with the previous model.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-rear seats

Boot space has also increased, from 332L to 407L, partly thanks to the boot floor stretching a further 172mm in length. Now the boot is much more useable for everyday errands, and can even accommodate the family shopping or a full-size pram.

In terms of practicality, the removal of the driveshaft tunnel allows for a flat rear floor, improving the overall ease of movement for passengers in the rear. The multi-purpose tray in front of the passenger seat and the large-capacity open-type console with a wireless charging pad further enhance the interior’s convenience and functionality.

There’s no doubt about it, the new Kona is a more practical and liveable vehicle than ever before. You could consider this as a main family vehicle, whereas before, it wasn’t an ideal option.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-boot

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric: Powertrain & handling

Switching to Hyundai-Kia’s K3 platform, swapping out the aging K2 layout, brings in all of those practicality benefits mentioned above. But it’s also a more dynamic platform, more rigid and incorporates improved geometry for handling and technology.

Out on a country road, you’ll be surprised by how vast the driving breadth is. It’ll absorb nasty bumps and patchy bitumen with ease and without disrupting the vehicle’s balance, despite offering a wide suspension stroke. Yet, punt it down a series of spirited S-bends and it’ll respond like it wants to be there. The steering feels nice (for its class) and body management characteristics are playful and encouraging, albeit not razor sharp.

Driving the 150kW setup, it’s got excellent low-end response and decent top end. However, with torque reduced from 395Nm in the previous model to 255Nm now, absolute acceleration is reduced slightly, according to our Vbox timing.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-surround view camera

In the previous model the best 0-100km/h we saw was 6.77 seconds. That was with the traction control system left on because with it off, the front tyres used to smoke away into dust. Now with wider (and superior) tyres, measuring 235/45 on the Premium model, and with less torque, traction is no longer a problem.

This is great to see overall balance improved. But it does mean the 0-100km/h time isn’t as quick. Using the same private road and Vbox, the best we saw was 8.01 seconds. It also clocked the 1/4 mile in 16.04 seconds at 147.6km/h, and covered 60-110km/h in 4.96 seconds.

Mid-range pick-up is very enjoyable, allowing you to surge past other motorists with absolutely no effort at all. Especially compared with the petrol models. There is a Sport mode that makes the pedal feel snappier, but it doesn’t increase overall power. In fact, we did some sprints with the Vbox in Normal mode and the difference wasn’t clear. Repeating the tests saw mixed results, but all very, very close figures.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-19in wheels

When it comes time to recharge, the new Kona Electric’s battery can go from 10-80 per cent in around 45 minutes using a 100kW DC plug, in either battery. The max charge rate for AC power is 10.4kW, which requires 5 hours and 15 minutes in the base model, and 6 hours and 35 minutes in the 64.8kWh system.

As usual, it’s the Australian infrastructure that lets this vehicle down the most. Not enough public stations and poor management of the stations (often errored) means you do need to plan your trips more than any petrol or diesel vehicle. Spontaneous trips can also be quite stressful and lengthy in comparison.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-charging

By far the biggest downside to the new model is the driver assist technology. The speed limit warning system is over-the-top and often picks up the wrong speed. It’ll also carry through a 20km/h limit onto and up the road, as it looks out for a new speed sign. In the meantime it’s beeping and binging at you.

The driver monitoring camera system is also overly sensitive. And even when you do turn it off, if something triggers it, the system turns back on. So what’s the point of having an ‘off’ switch. Reaching across the engage with the touch-screen can trigger it, yawning or talking with a passenger can also make it go haywire. In our opinion, such technologies don’t increase safety, they reduce it by way of distraction and frustration.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-charging status

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric: Key attractions/reasons to buy

  • It’s now a big SUV: Not a large SUV officially, but the new model has grown considerably so now it can accommodate adults in the back and lots of luggage.
  • Design: Modern and very distinctive interior and exterior ensure it will age well over the next five or so years.
  • Technology: Two big digital screens are packed with features and functionality, and offer lots of adjustable settings.
  • Balance: It is slower to 100km/h but with less torque than before and wider tyres on the Premium trim, it is a better balanced vehicle.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric Premium-rear power socket

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric: Key considerations before you buy

  • Expensive: It is still too pricey for what it is; a small SUV, big on technology, but a small non-premium SUV nonetheless.
  • Active safety assist systems: They drive you nuts with their constant beeps and bings, apparently all in the name of safety.
  • Not as quick: With 255Nm dropping from 395Nm in the old model, it is over a second slower to 100km/h according to our Vbox testing.

How does it rate against its rivals?
  • Price
  • Quality look & feel
  • Interior tech
  • Powertrain performance
  • Ride & handling
  • X factor (does it stand out in its class?)
3.6

Final word

The 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric emerges as a strong contender in the electric SUV segment, combining futuristic design, spacious interior, advanced technology, and commendable performance. Its range and focus on passenger comfort make it a compelling option. But the active safety systems and the big price tag put large dents in the overall appeal and desirability factor in our opinion.

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.

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