Hyundai’s newly bolstered EV strategy might be off to a good start. It just unveiled the Kona Electric, an adaptation of its crossover SUV that promises to combine both ample space with meaningful performance. The less expensive variant will pack a 133-horsepower, 291-pound-foot electric motor mated to a 39.2-kWh lithium ion battery, which Hyundai estimates will provide for 186 miles of range by European measurements (US EPA figures trend lower). A long-range version with its 64-kWh capacity will have an estimated 292-mile range and reach 62MPH in 7.6 seconds. That’s about as much range as a top-spec Tesla Model X — if you don’t need blistering acceleration or gobs of seating, you can get a very capable electric people hauler. it also beats the range on GM’s Bolt and Nissan’s Leaf.
The Kona is also offered as a gas vehicle. Coming into the market to compete against Ford’s EcoSport, Buick’s Encore, Honda’s HR-V and Toyota’s C-HR.
It’s hard to tell without seeing it up close, but at least on paper, the Kona’s interior dimensions don’t suffer too much from the transition to electric. Head, leg, and shoulder dimensions in the front and rear seats appear to be nearly identical with the regular Kona’s, though the cargo area looks to be somewhat reduced in size.
Long story short, the Kona Electric is exactly what it looks like: an all-electric version of the regular mass-market internal-combustion Kona that doesn’t require big compromises to own.
From an aesthetic standpoint, not much changes between the gas and EV versions, save for a fancier-looking grille that obviously doesn’t need to take up as much space, since there’s no gas engine sucking in air. The charging port is hidden behind a panel on the driver’s side of the grille.
Logically, there’s a lot of tech inside the cabin as well. A 7-inch center touchscreen (with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay), navigation, wireless phone charging and a heads-up display aren’t surprising in 2018, but you’ll also find paddle shifters that tweak the level of regenerative braking to suit your driving style and mileage demands. You’ll also see a raft of assists for collision avoidance (including pedestrians), blind spots, lane following and stop-and-go cruise control.
It’s not certain if and when the Kona Electric will reach the US (the current focus is on Europe), although the gas-powered original is making its US debut this spring. It wouldn’t be surprising if the EV edition comes to the country as well. SUVs remain intensely popular in the US, and the Kona’s range could make it practical for the sprawling American landscape.