The electric SUV is an attractive proposition in more ways than one and represents yet another step into an all-electric future
--BY SARTHAK RAJ BARAL
If one were to distil all aspects of the Hyundai Kona; all its strengths, complexities, perfections and imperfections into one word, that word would be ‘futuristic.’ That word is telling on several fronts – for one, Kona’s breed (Electric Vehicles) is the much-prophesied future of human commute. More pertinently to potential customers, the Kona imbibes the values of the car of the future, in everything from its design to the way it functions.
I spent an afternoon with the Hyundai Kona. Here are my takeaways.
Immediately upon first glance, one thing becomes abundantly apparent - the Hyundai Kona is not your everyday car. The electric SUV’s dares to be different, and it succeeds on several fronts. The SUV’s styling is a potent combination of sharp angles, uniquely angular headlamps, arresting curves and a front grille unlike any other in the market. Now, ascertaining the aesthetics of a car is a wholly subjective endeavour. While some may find the Kona’s aggressive styling bold and attractive, others may consider it to be gaudy or slightly over the top. That is the buyer’s prerogative. I, for one, fall in the former camp; the risks Kona takes in terms of styling has paid great dividends. Not only is the vehicle in sharp contrast to what you will find on the streets of Kathmandu, but it also has an identity of its own and cannot be compared to anything else. In all honesty, the car wouldn’t look out of place in a futuristic cyberpunk setting.
The SUV’s styling is a potent combination of sharp angles, uniquely angular headlamps, arresting curves and a front grille unlike any other in the market.
The Kona’s striking looks become all the more relevant in light of the comments made by Diwakar Regmi, Head of Hyundai’s Thapathali outlet. “Not everyone in the country is aware of EVs; there is a lack of understanding. People are often surprised that a car can run without petrol or diesel,” Regmi said. His point is entirely valid; EVs aren’t exactly ubiquitous in Nepal. The Kona’s striking looks then, will serve as a point of attraction to several customers. More often than not, an EV’s primary draw is attached to the name itself – that it’s an electric vehicle and will save on fuel and maintenance costs. For the Kona, however, it’s styling is just as tempting a reason to purchase it.
The unique charms of Kona’s exterior are carried over to the interior as well. The cabin is sleek, stylish and reasonably comfortable. Its modern design is pleasing to the eyes, but without compromising on functionality. The materials used around the cabin is primarily plastic, although that is to be expected given the price point. However, it doesn’t feel cheap in any way, and since it’s the default for most cars in Nepal, it’s essentially a non-issue.
Where the interior excels in is comfort and style. The dashboard eschews the traditional design language; primarily, there is no gearbox as the Kona is an EV. Instead, there is a stylish button layout that operates the automatic transmission. It is yet another unique touch, somewhat comparable to the rotary gear found in the likes of the Chrysler 300.
The Hyundai Kona Electric is available in two variants in Nepal. One with a 39.2 kW/h battery pack and another with a 64 kW/h battery pack. The driving range of the two variants are 300 km and 482 km, respectively.
The leather seats feel plush and comfortable. In terms of space, on the front, there is space aplenty; however, with three people in the rear, it will get quite snug.
The bridge-type centre console comes with a variety of expected features such as a charging port, AUX port, wireless charger, among others. A 7-inch infotainment system rests on top of the centre console. Along with the expected features, the screen displays charge managements and power consumption information as well.
Performance and Charging
The Hyundai Kona Electric is available in two variants in Nepal. One with a 39.2 kW/h battery pack and another with a 64 kW/h battery pack. The driving range of the two variants are 300 km and 482 km, respectively. Our testing model was the 64 kW/h variant. The performance was certainly appreciable. The acceleration felt brisk, and the handling was sturdy and responsive. A unique aspect of all EVs is the lack of noise due to the absence of a traditional combustion engine. The cabin was noticeably quiet during the ride, and that does wonders to the driving experience.
In terms of raw numbers, the battery-powered electric motor can generate up to 201 brake horsepower (bhp) and 395 newton-metre (Nm) of torque. For comparison, the 1591 CC Hyundai Creta produces 126 bhp and 154 nm torque.
The critical component, however, is the battery. Regmi, expanding on the charging functionality of the SUV, said “There are three types of charging- DC fast charging, AC fast charging and trickle charging, the last of which is portable and the one that customers will get when they purchase the Kona. With that charger, the 39.2 kW/h variant will take around 19 hours to charge from 0 to 100. It will take around 6 hours with AC fast charging.”
When I questioned him about the availability of charging stations in Nepal, Regmi said “We have installed AC fast chargers in about 13 to 14 places. In Kathmandu, there is a charging station in all Hyundai showrooms and service stations, Marriot Hotel and Labim Mall. We are planning to expand in the future. Even in Pokhara, we have charging stations in several showrooms and also in all the major hotels there.”
Pricing and Conclusion
The 39.2 kW/h variant is priced at Rs 55,96,000 and the 64 kW/h variant is priced at Rs 65,96,000. For that significant outlay, customers will own a futuristic, stylish, environment-conscious SUV with a sense of understated class on the interior and loud, attention-grabbing aesthetics on the interior. The Hyundai Kona is worthy of consideration.