Kona Electric Hyundai’s compact SUV — one of the most affordable right now battery-electric vehicles on the road — getting bigger, bolder and smarter with the debut of the second-generation model this week. An attractive redesign that blends features of the previous generation with an eye-popping geometric style Ionic 5 and Ionic 6 Dedicated EVs, the new Kona Electric promises range and efficiency improvements despite its larger footprint.
The second-generation Kona is built on an enlarged and elongated version of the automaker’s B-segment platform — the same previous generation — apart from Hyundai’s dedicated E-GMP electric vehicle platform. This allows the Korean automaker to continue offering gasoline and hybrid versionstalling the Kona’s transition to fully electric for at least one more generation.
The new Kona EV is 5.5 inches longer (171.5 inches) than the previous generation, with a wheelbase extended by 2.3 inches (104.7 inches). Inside, the Kona has an extra 3 inches of second-row legroom (36.4 inches) thanks to that longer wheelbase, and there’s a flat floor for increased middle-seat comfort. The growth spurt takes the Kona Electric from being one of the smallest models in its class to a scale that is more competitive with the Chevrolet Bolt EUVs Total length 169.5-inches and wheelbase 105.3-inches.
The SUV looks much wider than before with wide body fender flares, but at 71.9 inches, its footprint is only 0.9 inches wider overall. The extra girth is reinforced by the illusion of flared fenders created by undercuts in the body that trick the eye. Up front, the trompe l’oeil is further emphasized with a full-width Pixelated Seamless Horizontal Lamp, a one-piece light bar that spans the full width of the front end. Hyundai’s head of design tells me this was the most challenging design element to pull off. A visor-like light bar also highlights the rear. (Of course, the actual headlights and rear indicators are stuffed into larger light sections lower on the bumpers.)
Between the axles, the fully electric Kona will be offered with two battery options. The larger 65.4-kilowatt battery pack will likely make its way to North America, but Hyundai’s 304-mile WLTP-estimated range will likely be adjusted when put through our more rigorous EPA test cycle. (For comparison, the current Kona EV is estimated to be 258 miles with its 64 kWh unit.) This configuration powers a 160-kilowatt (215 horsepower) electric motor driving the front wheels to 188 pound-feet of torque.
Built on a 400-volt electrical architecture (as opposed to the 800-volt E-GMP system), the new Kona Electric will still be limited to 100-kW DC fast charging. Hyundai says there’s still plenty of bandwidth to charge the pack from 10% to 80% in about 41 minutes with thermal preconditioning available to help keep charging speeds consistent during cold winter days. The charging door is still located on the front bumper — the best location for convenient public charger access, in my opinion — and now has heating features to stop freezing in the winter and built-in lights to help connect at night .
In the European and Asian markets, the Kona will also be offered with a smaller 48.4-kWh battery, a detuned 114.6-kW electric motor and an estimated WLTP range of 213-miles. However, given Hyundai’s track record of bringing the big battery to the previous generation and its Ioniq models, it’s a safe bet that we won’t see this “Standard Range” model stateside.
To help drivers maximize range, Kona Electric now has intelligent automatic regenerative braking programs such as the second-generation Ioniq 5, which can automatically adjust the amount of regenerative braking applied when the throttle is lifted based on the driver’s distance following, route information, battery charge status and more. The paddle-selectable regenerative system also gives drivers the option to enable Hyundai’s i-Pedal one-pedal drive mode, which can bring the EV to a complete stop without touching the friction brakes. The Kona inherits the Ioniq family’s r-ASD active audio design for user-customizable fake engine noise in the cabin and is now compatible with the vehicle-to-load auto operator (V2L) functionality. With the help of an adapter, V2L enables users to plug in and power small appliances or equipment with the EV’s battery while, for example, camping, working remotely or during an emergency break at home.
Inside, drivers and passengers are given a more spacious cabin and a new 12.3-inch dual-screen experience similar to the latest Hyundai and Ioniq branded models. The new infotainment software is powered by the automaker’s Car Navigation Software which is now updatable over the air. A 12-inch head-up display is also available. Wireless Android Auto and Game Apple CarPlay connectivity that is standard, and Access to a digital key on the smartphone three NFC taps on the door handle also come to the Kona for this generation, with support for smartphones and smartwatches.
Around the cabin, you’ll find new customizable colorful ambient lighting, a new shift lever on the steering column and new front seats with a sleek design with a deep recline Relax Mode that passengers can take advantage of while waiting for a charge. to carry out. The EV uses more environmentally friendly materials in its construction. Something I didn’t see as I poked around the cabin was the Hyundai “H” logo. Like the Ioniq 5, the steering wheel features simple four-dot iconography.
Hyundai’s SmartSense driver assistance technology also sees a generation upgrade. The Kona can now come equipped with Hyundai’s Remote Park Assist, which allows the driver to move the SUV directly forward or back into tight parking spaces from the outside of the vehicle. Highway Driving Assist 2 integrates a navigation-based Smart Cruise Control that can automatically adjust highway cruise speed based on the distance to the vehicle ahead or negotiate bends in the road more safely.
Hyundai has not announced pricing for the new Kona Electric, but the automaker’s goal is that the compact EV will continue to be one of the most affordable options in its class. In addition, it must remain cheaper than the slightly larger Ioniq 5. The current generation Kona Electric starts at just over $33,000 before any available incentives, while the Ioniq 5 starts at around $42,000. So, it’s a safe bet that the new Kona Electric is stuck near the lower end of that window.
Expect more specific details and availability to be announced when the new Kona makes its North American debut at the 2023 New York Auto show in a few weeks.