The 2019 Kona Electric loses its grille and grains some grunt, courtesy of an electric motor.
We’ve had a few opportunities to test the Hyundai Kona with its conventional gasoline engine since it originally launched earlier this year. Now, Hyundai flew us out to Los Angeles, California to test its zero-emission twin: the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric. This car marks the brand’s first all-electric crossover in the U.S. market. To that end, it packs some unique touches to differentiate it from the rest of the lineup.
The conventional Kona comes with two engine options, neither of which pack as much power as the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric. The most powerful engine you can get is a 175 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo, while the Kona Electric packs 201 horsepower. That’s as much grunt as a Kia Soul Turbo. What’s more, it also packs a lot more torque, at 291 lb-ft. Mind you, it is fairly heavy with its 64-kWh battery pack on board. Hyundai claims a 7.6 second 0-60 time, which is slightly slower than its turbocharged stablemate, at least at sea level.
Changing up the driving experience
Drivers can change up the flavor of driving in the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric with three different driving modes. Eco allows the most efficient driving possible, while Sport tightens everything up and offers a more dynamic experience. Normal is the default setting and offers a balance on efficiency and performance. More interesting, however, is the car’s regenerative braking. The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric offers four levels of energy recuperation, controlled by paddles on the steering wheel. Tap the left paddle, and the regenerative braking gets more aggressive. Thankfully, for those who want their Kona Electric to feel like a normal car, Level 0 offers a free-wheeling option, with no regenerative braking.
However, you can also hold the left paddle in the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric to effectively brake the car. It offers more braking force and allows one-pedal driving, akin to using e-Pedal in the new Nissan Leaf.
The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric offers 258 miles of range. That’s 20 miles more than a Chevrolet Bolt and a whopping 108 miles more than the current 40-kWh Nissan Leaf. It also is capable of up to 75 kW (200 Amp) fast charging as standard. Hyundai claims you can charge the Kona Electric to 80 percent charge in 54 minutes on a 100 kW DC fast charger. Using a standard 7.2 kW Level-II charger takes about nine and a half hours.
Tech and connectivity
On the inside, the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric looks a lot like the traditional Kona. You still get an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, and you still get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. The Kona Electric comes in three trim levels similar to those in the standard Kona. While electric Kona goes without the SE trim, it does come in either SEL, Limited or Ultimate. All come with the same powertrain, while the Limited adds premium seats, audio and a sunroof. The Ultimate adds more tech and safety features.
The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric packs a 315 watt, 8-speaker Infinity audio system. All the media controls are accessible through the knobs and buttons on either side of the infotainment screen. Climate controls and drive modes, as well as the ventilated and heated front seats, are lower down on the floating bridge center console. As with the new Nexo fuel cell vehicle, the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric also uses a button-operated, shift-by-wire gear selector. Drivers can also use the upgraded Blue Link app to set up charging schedules, start the car and climate controls and access additional information about the car’s functions.
The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric comes with standard forward collision-avoidance braking, for a start. On top of that, there’s also lane keep assist, high beam assist and driver attention warning. Blind-spot collision warning and rear cross-traffic assist are available in higher trim levels.
Pricing and availability
The 2019 Hyundai Kona will go on sale in early 2019, though Hyundai hasn’t announced pricing yet. That information will be available soon. Hyundai plans to sell the Kona EV in heavy electric-demand states like California and along the East Coast. However, the model will not be available in all 50 states. For now, it’s going on sale where demand is the greatest. Hyundai will produce the Kona Electric alongside the standard Kona at its plant in Ulsan, South Korea.
Driving impressions are embargoed until Monday, October 15. Come back soon for our full review of the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow as well for more news, views and real-world reviews.