Hyundai Kona VS Peugeot 2008
- New engine and trans combo
- Interior still cool
- CarPlay across the range
- Tight rear seats
- Grumbly engine at low revs
- Some cheap plastics
I think it’s just human nature to like explosions.
There’s something fascinating and wonderous about how an internal combustion engine unites the chaos of exploding petrol with a few hundred moving parts to send a car hurtling forward.
So, I should hate the Hyundai Kona Electric. I should hate it for the simple fact that it is the almost undeniable future of motoring, and it has no engine.
But for so many reasons, I can’t hate it. I can’t hate it because for the first time since I first drove a Tesla Model S, the Kona Electric made feel like I’ve had to the opportunity to experience a little slice of the future before we’re really supposed to see it.
So, should we be ready for it? Is this Kona going to be a big part of the proliferation of electric cars in Australia? Importantly, is it a realistic cut-price long-range alternative to the wildly expensive Tesla range?
The answers lie in this review…
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Peugeot 2008 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in NSW.
You have to feel for Peugeot. Back in 2013 when the 2008 launched, the mini-SUV market was pretty limp, with four so-so offerings. While the French company was hardly expecting the kind of numbers cars like the Mazda CX-3 or Mitsubishi ASX achieve today, there was probably a bit of optimism considering the lacklustre competition.
Sadly, the 2008 was not a smash-hit, despite critical acclaim for its inventive interior and dynamic appeal. Where it all fell down was the combination of engines and transmissions - manuals came with the diesel (which almost nobody bought) and the automatic was a decidedly 1990s four-speed automatic that didn't pair well with the petrol engines.
The 2008 had an identity crisis Peugeot needed to fix. Was it a wagon? Was it a cheap alternative to the others? Why can't I get an auto on the Active? Why does it look high tech but the drivetrain isn't? So many questions that Peugeot has to answer.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
On price alone, the Kona Electric is not quite the Volkswagen Beetle or Ford Model T of the electric car world.
It does stand for something, though. It stands as an example that practical and reasonably range-anxiety-free electric vehicles are a realistic ownership proposition, and one which is achievable for automakers a little less volatile than Tesla.
Importantly, the Kona Electric ‘normalises’ the EV powertrain in that it feels so natural to drive, so much like its petrol equivalents that you don’t question it, and you spend far more time marvelling at the cool bits than you do getting frustrated with the compromises.
For now, the key to uptake of these vehicles will be in government incentives (right now there are next to none) and the proliferation of more up-to-date non-Tesla charging points.
What would it take for you to make the switch to electric? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The 2008's identity crisis is partly solved, but as this is a mild update rather than ground-up rebuild, it was never going to be the CX-3 killer product planners dream about. With the new engine and transmission, though, the range is more appealing and easier to make sense of.
It retains what made the car so original at launch, with the polarising i-Cockpit, clever-on-a-budget interior detailing and, as it turns out, it's a tough customer loved by rural folk.
All of this won't rocket the Frenchie to market leadership, but it puts it in the mix where it was previously too confusing an idea for many buyers.
Can the 2008's French flair tempt you away from the Japanese juggernauts? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Our loan car was fully tricked out with the ‘eco’ look. That includes the Kona Electric’s hero colour of ‘Ceramic Blue’, the two-tone white roof and the airy blue and grey interior trim.
Some will love this aesthetic, to me it was total eco-credential overkill. Regardless, the electric Kona carries most of the styling points which made the original car a bit of a hit.
In fact, in some ways I think the electric Kona improves on the base car by eliminating the overcomplicated grille.
Round the back is less revolutionary, featuring a re-designed lower bumper and a simple ‘electric’ badge to set it apart from the regular range.
Inside has the same symmetrical design which makes the regular Kona and i30 so appealing.
The electric car gets a raised up centre console which offers easy access to the little SUV’s many buttons and functions as well as giving the cabin a slightly more futuristic look.
The centre stack is nicely designed with the climate control functions leading up to a set of vents and the pride-of-place multimedia touchscreen jotting out of the dash. It’s a good look and easy to use for both the driver and front passenger.
Less good is the abundance of matte silver finish everywhere, there’s simply no need for it, anyone who gets behind the wheel will already realise this car is from the near future.
Unfortunately, the interior, as full-on as it looks, is comprised mostly of hard plastics. This is a consistent Kona problem - there’s even more hard surfaces present here than there is in its i30 hatchback sibling.
One of the 2008's problems is its looks. Nothing wrong with them, it's just that it looks like a jacked up 208 with an extension on the back. When punters saw it, they thought wagon rather than SUV. Part of that is to do with Peugeot's messaging. The material we got called it 'New SUV 2008', but the fact it doesn't look like its competitors plays against it.
The new 2008 has been lightly revised front and rear to make it a little more butch and a little less 208. The direction is clearly influenced by the forthcoming 3008, but there wasn't a great deal to be done with the older car.
There's a more bluff nose with a bigger vertical grille to add some visual heft. The wheel arches have unpainted plastic extensions (on the Allure and GT) and there are now scuff plates to make it feel a bit more off-roadery. It is looking its age, though and will look older when the 3008 lands here later in the year.
In Allure and GT models the headlights are black and chrome and the taillights are Peugeot's 'three claw' design.
Inside is, mercifully, much the same and dating more gracefully than the exterior. The i-Cockpit is an acquired taste with the tiny 350mm steering wheel set low under a high-up instrument pack, designed to help keep your head up. It does take some getting used to, but with plenty of adjustment, most people can get the right spot behind the wheel.
The new 7.0-inch screen responds well to the touch and looks like it belongs, while the shrewd use of textured materials and, in the Allure, metallics, helps offset some of the cheaper materials and the low-rent plastic gear selector with its chromed, gated lever. Give me the selector from the 308 any day.
It's airy and light but if you want the sunroof, be aware it has a white, translucent blind that creates a lot of glare. Works fine in Europe, not so great under our harsh sun.
The Kona is already hardly the most practical small SUV out there, as the base car features a decent boot, but middling rear legroom.
The same is true here, only the boot floor has been raised to accommodate batteries. As a result, total boot space has been reduced 39L down to 332L (VDA).
That’s unfortunate, but despite the sacrifice, it's somehow not the smallest boot in the small SUV class (it still bests the Mazda CX-3, for example). The Highlander grade gets a really quite handy luggage net across the boot floor.
Underneath the boot floor, the on-board charging cable packs away neatly into a zipper bag alongside the puncture repair kit.
Rear legroom is a bit of an issue. If you’re any taller than me (182cm) you simply won’t fit and you’ll have your legs jammed up against the front seat.
On my test week I put three adults across the rear row and while they were too polite to complain, it didn’t look particularly comfortable, particularly for the middle occupant.
In terms of amenities the rear seats get small cupholders in the doors and nettings on the back of the seats, but no power outlets or air-conditioning vents.
Up front is a much better story, where the driver and front passenger benefit from deep cupholders in the centre console and doors, a neat little Qi wireless charging point, USB point and 'aux' input in the dash, as well as a huge storage area and 12-volt output underneath the raised centre stack. There’s also a decent console box.
Sure, the electric Kona can’t compete on practicality with something like the brilliantly-packaged Honda HR-V, but it isn’t as compromised as it could have been.
Front seat passengers will enjoy comfortable seating in both Allure and Active models with space in the doors for bottles, a pair of (small) cupholders and a good-sized central console storage bin, which is also cooled. The glovebox is tiny, but it means you've a lot more knee room than you might expect in a car this size.
The rear seat legroom is tight for over 150cm folk, but the seats themselves are comfortable, with three across possible if not appreciated. Sadly, there are no air vents or cupholders out back, although small bottles can go in the doors. There's not even an armrest for rear seat dwellers.
Boot space is excellent at 410 litres (the class-leading HR-V is 437, the rather bigger Qashqai 430) and with the 60/40 seats down that number more than triples to 1400 litres. Under the boot floor is a further 22 litres and either side of door opening are plastic pockets with retaining straps.
There is one USB port up front, a 12V next to it and another 12V port for the rear seats.
Price and features
Let’s get the major downside of the Kona Highander electric out of the way right off-the-bat, shall we?
This car costs a whopping $64,490 before on-roads. So, for what is essentially a budget-style small SUV you’ll be punished to the tune of almost $30 grand more than its petrol-powered Highlander equivalent.
In fact, as Richard Berry pointed out in his launch review, this is the most expensive car Hyundai sells in Australia. More than even the top-model seven-seat Santa Fe Highlander diesel, which will set you back a (suddenly cheap-sounding) $60,795.
On the upswing, it is much cheaper than any other electric car with an equivalent range on full charge. The cheapest current Telsa Model S, for example (now simply called the ‘Long Range’), comes in at an even more whopping $123,500.
Sadly, a slice of the future is still limited to those who are wealthy enough to afford it.
Our electric Highlander does come with decent kit to help mitigate the cost a little. Included is the full suite of standard features from the regular Kona, and then some.
There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, built-in sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity, an eight speaker premium audio system, Qi wireless phone charging pad, full LED front lighting, front & rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, and 17-inch ‘eco-design’ alloy wheels.
Unlike the Elite which sits below it, the Highlander is offered with a choice of either a two-tone roof or sunroof option at no extra cost. All Kona Electrics have leather-appointed interior trims as standard, but the Highlander adds power operated, heated & ventilated front seats.
There's also a head-up display standard on our Highlander, but with all the required information being displayed across the media system and dash cluster I hardly found it useful.
The Kona also has a substantial safety suite (explored in the safety section of this review).
The 2008 range has been significantly reduced. First to depart was the bargain-basement Access model, a theme repeated on the 208 and 308 model lines. Nobody bought it (three per cent of buyers, or about 20-ish per year), so that was the one to go. Peugeot's local brand boss, Kai Bruesewitz told CarsGuide at the launch that Australian buyers like their SUVs with "the lot."
The existing engines were turfed, and in their place is Peugeot's lauded 1.2-litre turbo petrol triple cylinder, known as 'PureTech e-THP' (Turbo High Pressure), paired exclusively with the Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic transmission found in the 308.
The range is now three cars, starting with the Active at $26,490, moving on to the Allure, and ending with the GT-Line, which replaces the Outdoor trim level.
The Active opens the range with 16-inch alloys, six speaker stereo, 7.0-inch touchscreen with CarPlay and MirrorLink (Android Auto is three to six months away), cloth trim, leather steering wheel, reversing camera (factory fit rather than dealer-fitted), air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, electric folding mirrors and cruise control.
Peugeot Australia says the new Active's higher price of $26,490 (+ $1000) is offset by $2000 of extra stuff when compared with the 1.6-litre Active auto of old.
The Allure is still $30,990 and swaps 16s for 17s, adds city auto emergency braking, auto parking, grip control, sat nav and a different cloth trim, active cornering lighting, auto headlights and wipers, front parking sensors, rear privacy glass and dual-zone climate control.
The GT-Line keeps the Outdoor's $32,990 price but picks up automatic transmission, different 17-inch alloys, red LED interior lighting to replace the blue in lower grades, and some interior and exterior detailing to set it apart, as with the 208 GT Line.
The GT-Line won't be available until the middle of the year.
Options across the board include $990 for metallic paint or $1050 for pearlescent. For Allure and GT-Line models you can add a panoramic sunroof for $1000 and leather for $2200. You can also specify sat nav on the Active for $1500 but given it has CarPlay and MirrorLink, that seems expensive and unlikely to attract too many buyers.
Engine & trans
The Kona Electric drives the front wheels via an electric motor producing 150kW/395Nm.
It’s more powerful than any other Kona model, most other small SUVs and even most electric cars around this price.
It’s not as… ahem… ludicrous as a Tesla, with a claimed 7.6 second 0-100km/h time, but it really doesn’t need to be. It has plenty of power for what it is.
Electric motors don’t require a transmission in the traditional sense, and the Kona simply has a single-speed ‘reduction gear’.
The Kona feeds power back into its battery pack via regenerative braking, which has three levels controlled by paddle-shifters on the wheel. More on that in the driving and fuel consumption segments.
Sadly, the motor still juts into the regular engine bay, so there’s no extra storage up front. There’s also a standard battery to power auxiliary functions alongside the gigantic battery pack.
All 2008s are powered by the same 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder, developing 81kW (down 7kW on the old 1.6, up 21kW on the old 1.2) and 205Nm (up 45Nm on the 1.6 and 25Nm up on the old 1.2) of torque. While the power figure doesn't compete with the 1.8 or 2.0 naturally aspirated engines of other cars in the class, the torque figure is a little higher than most.
The sprint from 0-100km/h stops the clocks at a leisurely 11.3 seconds with a tare weight of just 1188kg to push along.
Power goes to the front wheels via an Aisin six-speed automatic, already seen in the 308.
Compared to the old 1.6-litre four, the THP engine is 12kg lighter and features stop-start to help cut consumption.
The Kona consumes precisely zero fuel, due to the whole ‘lack of an engine’ deal. Really, in the future, we’ll have to rename this segment to ‘energy consumption’.
To that end you’re probably used to measuring consumption in terms of litres per hundred kilometres (L/100km), but the new figure against which electric cars are measured is kilowatt hours per hundred kilometres (kWh/100km).
Over my week of testing the Kona produced 14.1kWh/100km. No context for that? Here, I’ll provide some. The Kona has a 64kWh battery pack, which Hyundai claims will give you a “real-world range” of 449km.
If you put the numbers together, it means at the rate I was using power I would have actually scored a greater range than Hyundai’s estimate at 453.9km.
That’s legitimately impressive, because the Nissan Leaf I had on test immediately afterwards couldn’t get below 15.3kWh/100km.
Weirdly, on both tests I found EVs aren’t more efficient on the freeway, producing the same or even better numbers in traffic.
Charging any electric car is a sticky topic. The Kona has a single port, a ‘Type 2’ (Mennekes) European-standard charging port. This is a three-phase standard port which can be charged at stations ‘up to 100kW’.
I couldn’t find a single 100kW charging port in Sydney, but there is a lone NRMA 50kW Mennekes connector in Olympic Park (which will charge from zero to 80 per cent in 75 min) or 22kW versions at ChargeFox stations (which require the ChargeFox app to use).
Unfortunately, you can’t make use of Tesla’s extensive fast charge network, nor can you make use of the ChargePoint network which has 6.6kW ‘J1772’ connectors.
Hyundai offers an optional 7.2kW wall-mounted home charger, which can fill the battery in nine hours and 35 min.
Faced with little option but to charge it from a humble wall socket in the CarsGuide garage (which had a max output of 2.2kW) the Kona informed me a max charge from 29 per cent battery would take 24 hours and 47 minutes…
The Kona Electric is great to drive because it's so natural, so much like a ‘normal’ car. It’s quite literally as though somebody cross-bred a Tesla with a regular Kona Highlander, and that’s a very good thing.
If you’ve never driven an electric car before (and let’s face it, few people have) there are some distinctly different characteristics you should know about. Firstly, the way you slow down is not usual.
Electric cars like to reclaim energy through regenerative braking, which feeds energy back into the battery as the wheels turn. This means instead of coasting, electric cars will actively slow down when you let your foot off the accelerator.
In the Kona, you can control three levels of this braking depending how how comfortable you are with it or turn it off entirely, which I would advise against as it saves a surprising amount of battery, especially in stop-start traffic.
You can also hold down the brake level paddle to bring the car to a full stop with just regeneration. Efficient. This will also prolong the life of your brake pads, a further cost saving over time.
The acceleration is smooth and swift, but not brutal like a Tesla, and you seldom need to hop on the brakes hard if you have the regen braking on, although if you do the pedal has an odd, disconnected, woody kind of feel.
The electric Kona feels heavy thanks to its big battery mounted below the floor. This gives it a weightiness through the corners, but also a solid amount of grip. I never really felt as though the Kona would understeer despite its front-wheel drive disposition.
The suspension, like all Hyundai products now, is well sorted and tuned locally in Australia. Due to the extra weight of the electric components, this Kona has a different tune from its petrol-powered equivalents.
It’s less springy, but still a little sporty, and by nature of the extra weight alone it feels super settled over bumps.
Obviously, the lack of an engine makes the Kona Electric quiet, but it does make a rather strange noise. It’s like a choral ringing noise that’s most evident during low speed acceleration and braking.
You may have heard similar noises from electric trains before. It is undeniably cool and futuristic though, and results in more than a few turned heads from nearby pedestrians.
Modest though the outputs may be, the turbo triple is the right engine for the 2008. Standardising across the range means you don't have to play option Tetris and you know exactly what you're getting, no matter which one the dealer throws you the keys to.
While a bit grumbly low-down (this problem doesn't afflict the bigger 308), the turbo spins up and, once you're moving, provides decent thrust. Engines this size have little right to be so good on the motorway, but overtaking required less planning than anticipated, and the transmission, while kept busy, is smooth and unobtrusive. Job done there.
The steering is very good, aided by the small steering wheel, helping make the car feel as light as it is (just under 1200kg). I am not convinced by the tyres, though.
Shod with Goodyear Vector all-weather tyres, there just isn't the grip through the tight and twisty stuff, so the stability control fires up earlier than perhaps it would with 'summer' tyres. That's easy fixed at the first tyre change as long as you're not after the semi off-road capabilities of the standard rubber.
On loose or wet surfaces, the tyres to make a better case for themselves and once you twiddle the 'Grip Control' dial for the surface you're on, they're even more useful. I'd probably want a set of normal tyres on an Active, which doesn't have Grip Control and is probably intended more for city use buyers.
Overall, it's a refined package, with just the sometimes intrusive engine note coming through at low revs and tyre noise on poor tarmac.
Both electric Kona variants come with Hyundai’s full suite of active safety items, including auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection (AEB – works up to 65km/h for pedestrians or 80km/h for vehicles), forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring (BSM), driver attention alert (DAA), lane keep assist (LKAS) with lane departure warning (LDW), high beam assist, rear cross traffic alert and active cruise control.
That’s an impressive suite of features, placing the Kona among the best equipped in the small SUV segment.
Regular safety refinements include six airbags, the expected electronic stability and brake controls as well as two ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.
All Konas including the electric variants carry a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of December 2017.
The basic safety package on the Active includes six airbags, ABS, plus stability and traction controls.
Allure and GT-Line also have 'Grip Control', a switchable terrain system that plays around with the brakes to help keep the front wheels moving in mud, sand and snow.
The Kona Electric is covered by Hyundai’s competitive five-year unlimited kilometre warranty offering, sitting on-par with most competitors.
It came as a surprise to find Hyundai actually guarantees the battery for longer than the car itself, with an eight-year/160,000km warranty.
The lack of moving parts in the Kona Electric’s drivetrain means (theoretically) less to service and less to go wrong. As such, Hyundai has capped electric Kona servicing at $165 per 12-monthly 15,000km visit for the length of the warranty.
Services have capped prices beyond that with Hyundai’s 'iCare' packages, although we're waiting for confirmation on pricing.
Whether any long-term issues will show up with electric drivetrains is yet to be seen.
The 2008 comes with a five year/100,000km warranty for the first three months on sale (until May 31 2017), but Peugeot says they're negotiating with the parent company to make that standard. Roadside assist is offered for three years/100,000km.
Peugeot will want to see you every 12 months or 15,000km for a service, with the average over five years working out at $544.20 per year, which is a little over the average for the segment. The cheapest is $404 and the three year/45,000km service is a stiff $723.