While the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 have generated great buzz for Hyundai, not everyone can afford to drop some $50,000 or more on an electric car, nor does everyone need vehicles that large. The current Kona Electric is an excellent efficient, practical entry-level EV to buy, so the next-generation model has a lot to live up to. With that in mind, Hyundai has revealed more details on the new 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric, so here’s a closer look at this stylish new small EV.
So why is Hyundai talking about the Kona Electric before the gas-powered model? Well, a few reasons. Firstly, combustion powertrains may vary by market. The current Kona has offered 10 different ICE powertrain options across all markets, and this is a global reveal so we’ll likely see U.S. ICE specs later.
Secondly, Hyundai designed the new Kona as an electric vehicle first and is keen to show off that strategy. With that in mind, let’s get into the powertrain details.
While base-spec global-market electric Konas get a 48.4 kWh battery pack, uplevel models get a 65.4 kWh battery pack, which is most likely the one we’ll see in America. Given a WLTP range estimate of at least 490 km on the bigger pack, expect range similar to the current car’s 258 miles on the EPA cycle.
Keep in mind, the Kona Electric still uses a 400-volt architecture, so peak charging speeds won’t be comparable to what you’d see in an Ioniq 5. Mind you, performance will likely be a bit of a downgrade. While 215 horsepower is a five-horsepower bump over the current model, 188 lb.-ft. of torque means that the new model loses 102 lb.-ft. of torque and that’s not a typo. Granted, the current model absolutely tortures its front tires upon even moderate acceleration from a stop, so maybe a reduction in torque is a good thing.
Arguably the news with the biggest enthusiast appeal other than the updated powertrain is that Hyundai’s found space for a frunk in the new Kona Electric. It’s not a huge one at 0.953 cu.-ft. (27 liters), but there’s a chance it would work for charging cable storage. If that doesn’t do the trick for you, 25.5 cu.-ft. (723 liters) of cargo space in the hatch ought to be pleasantly practical.
It’s a similar deal with the rear seat which has been reshaped to more comfortably fit three across, and the new open center console. Hyundai’s even stretched length by 6.7 inches, flatted the rear floor, and slimmed down the front seats for increased rear passenger room. The new Kona Electric seems to have an increased focus on practicality, exactly what crossover shoppers are looking for.
Mind you, that doesn’t mean that all the money went into function with none left over for form. The new Kona Electric looks fabulous with a full-length daytime running light reminiscent of Geordi La Forge’s visor and seriously chunky arches. In case the sharp form of the standard car isn’t aggro enough for you, Hyundai will also offer the Kona Electric in an N-Line model with more faux grilles and spoilers than your average Max Power car. It’s an acquired taste but some people will like it very much. I’ve previously written a deeper dive into the new Kona’s design and it’s safe to say that this little crossover really whips the llama’s ass in the visual department. It’s yet more proof that cheaper cars don’t need to be dull.
As fabulous as the sheetmetal looks, I’m a bit more interested in the interior of the Kona Electric. By keeping physical audio and climate controls high and tight on the dashboard, Hyundai has carved out a huge amount of space for storage while still incorporating nice controls. The steering wheel looks particularly lovely, and I’m thrilled to see a litany of physical buttons and knobs for everything from radio tuning to activating the heated steering wheel.
Brushed metallic trim makes a welcome appearance, piano black is essentially banished, and the column-mounted shifter is really smart. Add in a litany of power options from rear seat USB-C ports to vehicle-to-load capability and you have a functional, fashionable cabin that looks sensibly laid out. Good job, Hyundai.
As with any new car, the Kona Electric comes packed with more gadgets than a teenager’s gaming rig. You can use your phone as a key, activate Level 2 driver assistance, keep things fresh with over-the-air updates, and see your gauges and infotainment through two 12.3-inch screens. However, I think the most contentious gizmo will be what Hyundai calls e-Active Sound Design, or fake propulsion noises. These aren’t the federally-mandated low-speed pedestrian awareness noises, but rather in-cabin sounds piped in through speakers. Fingers crossed we’re able to turn it off.
While details on dino-powered variants are sparse, the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric looks like a fashionable, sensible gateway drug to electric driving. Expect a lot more details including EPA range and price to surface later in the year given that the Kona Electric is expected to roll onto dealer lots in the third quarter of 2023.
(Photo credits: Hyundai)
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