The Kona Electric is still expensive, don’t get me wrong. There’s no denying small SUV buyers will be turning their collective noses up when the electric version costs literally twice as much as its combustion equivalent.
When it comes to electric vehicles, though, the value equation is quite different. When you place the balance of range, features, size, and price against its rivals, the Kona actually comes out a lot better than you might think.
Look at it this way, the Kona is significantly more expensive than the base Nissan Leaf and MG ZS EV, but also significantly cheaper than rivals which offer more range, like the Teslas, Audis, and Mercedes-Benz models now sitting within Australia’s broadening EV landscape.
And range is the key. Able to make use of a whopping 484km range (on the WLTP test cycle), the Kona is one of the few EVs actually capable of matching a petrol car between ‘refills’, essentially removing the idea of range anxiety for suburban commuters.
The Kona electric is also much more than just another variant, with some significant changes to its specification and interior to at least partially make up for the massive price delta between it and the petrol version.
Leather seat trim is standard on the base Elite, as is a fully digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch multimedia touchscreen with EV-specific function screens, an overhauled bridge centre console design with fly-by-wire controls, a wireless charging bay, extended soft-touch materials throughout the cabin, halogen headlights with LED DRLs, acoustic glass (to deal with the lack of ambient noise), as well as rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
The top-spec Highlander gains LED headlights (with adaptive high beams), LED indicators and tail-lights, front parking sensors, power adjustable front seats, heated and cooled front seats and outboard heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, the option of either a glass sunroof or contrast roof colour, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, and a holographic head-up display.
A full suite of active safety functions, which we’ll explore later in this review, is standard across both variants, and each is motivated by the same motor, so no differences there.
It’s disappointing to see the Elite, or any electric car in 2021, with halogen light fittings, and the plethora of heating functions for the seats and wheel are interesting as we’re told they’re a more battery efficient way of heating the vehicles occupants, and therefore maximise range. You have to keep some things for the top-spec car, but again, it’s a shame Elite buyers won’t be able to benefit from these range-saving measures.