LOS ANGELES—If you imagine we might be higher off with extra folks driving electrical autos, any enhance within the number of these EVs is a welcome occasion. The newest possibility for the would-be EV proprietor definitely hits a lot of the proper notes to be a success. The Hyundai Kona EV is a crossover, the physique model so on-trend that it made Ford kill all its old style automobiles. The 64kWh battery provides it a variety of 258 miles, and on the newest fast-chargers it’s going to go from flat to 80 % state-of-charge in 54 minutes. And it comes with all the newest superior driver assists and a fairly funky inside. The solely factor we nonetheless do not know is the precise value. But since Hyundai advised us it is meant to be aggressive towards the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and that elusive standard-range Tesla Model 3, anticipate a pre-incentive value to begin someplace round $37,000.
Our first expertise of the little Kona crossover was again in April once we examined a pair of its gasoline-powered variants. The Kona EV is constructed on the identical bones, however Hyundai’s design workforce has given it a singular styling remedy inside and outside to differentiate this all-electric one from its inside combustion engined siblings. Most noticeable is the brand new nostril. Hyundai is eschewing the concept of creating all its fashions look equivalent, and battery EVs needn’t suck in a lot of contemporary air to feed an engine. So the Kona EV ditches the massive grille for a way more aerodynamic entrance finish.
It slips by the air
You can see the search for aerodynamic effectivity elsewhere. The underbody airflow is managed by covers and air deflectors. The precise air consumption (within the decrease a part of the entrance bumper) is lively and closes when acceptable to additional reduce drag. And the alloy wheels are principally flat, with few openings to attenuate turbulence. The result’s a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.29. That’s higher than the common Kona (0.34) and the Chevy Bolt (0.32) and on a par with Jaguar’s I-Pace, however it’s inferior to the Leaf (0.28), Audi e-tron (0.27), or Tesla Model 3 (0.24). (CdA, the place the drag coefficient is multiplied by frontal space, is the determine that basically issues, however OEMs by no means give out these numbers.)
Under the pores and skin, the format is standard for an EV—the battery pack is between the axle and beneath the occupants, with further reinforcement (versus the common Kona) to guard the battery (and the passengers). Like the Bolt and Leaf, the Kona EV is front-wheel drive, with a 201hp (150kW), 291lb-ft (395Nm) everlasting magnet synchronous motor coupled to a single-speed discount gear. The 64kWh battery pack is liquid-cooled, and, as with different EVs we have seen, this method is looped into the automobile’s local weather management system to trade warmth with the radiator and air conditioner. (This reduces the necessity to attract vitality from the battery to warmth or cool the inside). It’s rated at 170kW and has an vitality density of 141Wh/kg.
The Kona EV can DC fast-charge at as much as 75kW and 200A (which would require plugging it into one of many latest quick chargers like the type Electrify America is constructing). That will take a flat battery to an 80-percent state of cost in 54 minutes. This is not Supercharger-fast, however it’s enough so as to add one other 125 miles of vary in 30 minutes, Hyundai says. On an older 50kW quick charger, that very same 80 % will take 75 minutes. The Kona EV additionally options an onboard 7.2kW charger, and, plugged right into a 240v outlet, will absolutely recharge in 9 hours 35 min. While we weren’t capable of check the complete 258-mile vary declare, the automobile’s vary calculator gave the impression to be fairly correct when in comparison with our drive route.
It’s loaded to the gills
Things truly get a bit extra distinct in comparison with the gasoline Kona on the within. This might be a great factor, contemplating the truth that the most affordable Kona EV is more likely to value nearly double the worth of the most affordable inside combustion model. There’s an all-new middle console that stretches out like a bridge between the entrance seats, and should you go for the Limited or Ultimate trims, all of the seats are trimmed in leather-based. One factor that is not actually modified is the quantity of accessible area on the within. There’s no getting round it: the Kona EV is a small automobile. Front seat occupants may have about as a lot room as in a Bolt, and rear-seat occupants might be barely extra squished than in a Leaf. With the rear seats in use, there’s 19.2 cubic ft (544L) of cargo area, which grows to 45.eight cubic ft (1,297L) with the seats folded flat.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are normal, and Hyundai’s infotainment system is definitely not dangerous. The graphics are clear, and I just like the UI, which jogs my memory considerably of a pre-OS X Macintosh. The Ultimate, which was readily available for our drive, additionally will get a much bigger (eight-inch versus seven-inch) touchscreen. As its title suggests, it comes with all the bells and whistles—the bottom SEL Kona EV can be well-specced, even in relation to driver assists.
Forward collision warning, adaptive cruise management, lane retaining, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic collision warning is all normal throughout the vary, which is gratifying to see, as most OEMs lock these choices up within the dearer trims. As you progress to the Limited trim, you get exterior LED lighting, wi-fi cellphone charging, and a sunroof, with the Ultimate gaining a heads-up show, pedestrian detection, a greater adaptive cruise management that may come to an entire cease in site visitors, and ventilated entrance seats, amongst different goodies.
But you might have found all that simply from Hyundai’s web site. The cause I flew to California was to learn how the Kona EV drives, and I can report that my impressions have been fairly good. There are three totally different drive modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport. Eco has the least responsive accelerator and by default probably the most aggressive regeneration below coasting. In Normal, the accelerator is extra responsive, and the automobile coasts extra and regens much less whenever you cruise, and Sport has the sharpest accelerator response and a coasting regen setting someplace in between the opposite two. (In reality, there’s truly a fourth mode, Eco+, which limits all different energy attracts from the battery to increase vary so far as potential.)
Smart deceleration brings a brand new trick to the EV occasion
Hyundai has thought loads about maximizing regen; in any case, each kWh you possibly can get better from deceleration is a kWh you needn’t suck out of a charger. Where you may discover paddles to vary gear in some automobiles, right here you discover paddles to change the regen by 4 settings (0/half/3). Holding the left paddle (versus simply clicking it to cycle by ranges) engages probably the most aggressive regen, braking the automobile at as much as 0.25G. This will illuminate the brake lights and convey the automobile to a full cease.
But the Kona EV has a intelligent occasion trick up its sleeve which means you will use the regen paddle loads lower than the same function in Chevy’s Bolt or Volt. (This is sweet, as a result of there was a noticeable delay between utilizing the paddle to extend the extent of regen and the speed at which the automobile slows.) It’s referred to as the Smart Regenerative System, and the concept is to maintain a constant fee of deceleration when coasting. On an incline, it’s going to regen lower than coming down a hill, and since each Kona EV has a forward-facing adaptive cruise management radar sensor, it’s going to even take into consideration any automobiles you are following. That final bit does wonders for cruising in site visitors, significantly because the automobile was capable of extra finely choose the speed of deceleration than this unfamiliar driver.
Hyundai hasn’t launched a curb weight, however we do not want that quantity to know the middle of gravity is sweet and low, and which means a steady trip and little physique roll as soon as on the transfer. The Kona EV feels zippy, however it by no means encourages you to hustle it down a twisty street the way in which a Bolt does. Much of our check route (from West Hollywood to Malibu) was spent in site visitors anyway, the place the mix of that good deceleration function and a really quiet inside did a lot to counter the psychological toll inflicted by Southern California stop-and-go site visitors.
The Kona EV will not be for everybody, however then no automobile actually is. It’s low-cost and cheerful in the way in which that any sub-$40,000 EV must be, as a result of lithium-ion batteries are nonetheless very costly, even whenever you’re subsidizing the mannequin with non-EV variations. Sales will begin in California firstly of subsequent yr and can then unfold to the Zero Emissions Vehicles states. A nationwide launch stays TBD; Hyundai North America advised me that there is lots of world demand for the automobile, and it has to compete with different areas. Expansion outdoors the ZEV states might occur with enough demand and seller readiness.
Listing picture by Hyundai