My readers are aware that I am on the search for a new green car. The Hyundai Kona was one of the first full electric cars that I considered. Lots of interest in the Kona, big spending on TV adverts and it was for a car that was not demanding Tesla prices. Contacting my local dealer, I was able to book a test drive, I got a slot at Pebley Beach Hyundai, Swindon on the 25th July.
Turning up for the test drive, the dealership looked great. It was in the middle of the Covid crisis and they had only just re-opened but it was business as normal. Following all the social distancing rules, I was able to speak to the sales staff and I explained to Sean what I wanted in the car. He was very happy to accomodate my request and gave me a two hour test drive slot, so that I could put the Hyundai Kona through its paces. Whilst the paperwork was being written up, I had a chance to look around the showroom.
Iron Man, Kona
What I liked about the Hyundai brand is their sense of humour. Parked in the middle of the show room was a Marvel, Iron Man edition Hyundai Kona. They are clearly not worried about what the other manufacturers thought and are willing to do something different. The Iron Man Kona looked great, small Iron Man logos and motifs were all over the car and the paint, colours of the car really made a statement.
For hardened Marvel fans and even those that just enjoy a good superhero movie, this car would tick all the boxes. Looking at the podium next to the Iron Man car, it said it was a petrol engine and that this was the last one that they had in stock. I knew I wouldn’t get chance to test drive this Kona. I had hoped to find some secret buttons and switches, along with Jarvis speaking to me through the Infotainment unit but I never got chance to find out if this were true.
The Hyundai Kona
Once the paperwork was complete, I was handed a set of keys and taken out to be shown the Hyundai Kona electric demonstrator. The first impression was good, it looked great. The only obvious sign that it was an electric vehicle was the front grille. With no air vent and a solid looking covering at the front, it made the car look slightly odd. There was nothing that put me off, it was something that was obvious about the car.
The rest of the Kona looked exactly the same as a normal ‘gas guzzling’ car, out on the road. The size, shape and proportions was something that made me want to try it even more. My only complaint was that it was grey. It is just a personal choice and I knew that if I end up ordering one, it would be in one of the other amazing colours Hyundai has to offer its customers.
Opening the drivers door, the cabin looked spacious, roomy and very comfortable. There were loads of buttons and dials to try on the test drive. I was eager to find out what it was like to drive, an all electric car. Going around the dashboard and being shown the drive system, which is a push button gear selector (no stick) this was looking more like the type of futuristic car I had imagined.
The Kona cabin
Settling into the driver’s seat, the electric adjusters had everything covered and within minutes I was perched perfectly in front of the steer wheel. Everything was in reach and the layout was great. Under the centre console there was a large space for storage, I was thinking a snacks cubby hole.
The space felt airy and there was plenty of room up front. Looking over into the back it looked the same. The seats were comfortable and supportive. When I closed the door there was instant silence. All the outside noise was gone and it stayed that way.
Kona’s test drive
There was a bit of excitement as I pushed the start button. The dash lit up and there was absolutely, no noise. Everything on the dash said ready, so pressing the brake pedal and hitting the ‘D’ button, I was ready to move. The first off, was a little unsettling, as the car rolled forward I wanted to hit the throttle to hear the engine. There was nothing, just complete silence.
Tapping the throttle pedal the car was instantly responsive. It glided off the dealerships forecourt and within the first few turns I was happy that it was not going to act any differently that a normal car. There was a HUD (Heads Up Display) that popped up in front of the driver, out of the top of the dashboard. It was fun to see it pop up and down, but I could not get the angel quite right to see it clearly. But there was something more important to find out – how the Hyundai Kona drove. I was off and planned to get the car on an open road to see how it handled. Driving through Swindon, the first thing I wanted to try was the responsive motor. Getting out on the Great Western Way, I was sat at a set of lights, waiting for a green.
As the car is fully automatic, when the green light came on, I stamped on the pedal and was thrown into the back of the seat. This Kona was quick. Looking in the mirror I saw cars still sat at the line just starting to roll off. It put such a huge smile on my face that I wanted to do it again. Driving out of Swindon gave me a chance to negotiate roundabouts, smaller roads and housing estates with speed bumps.
Being that the Hyundai Kona is full of heavy batteries I was expecting a harsh ride and stiffer suspension but it was just like any other car. In actual fact I found that it felt more stable around corners at speed and had a more responsive feel, through the steering wheel. Navigating through the town was easy and before long I was getting onto the A419, where I could see how long its legs really were.
Sticking the pedal to the floor again, the motor kicked in and I was at 70mph within a blink of an eye, another smile hit my face. Cruising down the A419, I had the cruise control sorted and the active cruise control kept me out of any real danger. Going along the road I felt the steering wheel, every now and again, was giving a small correction. I realised that the lane assist on the Hyundai was really sharp. It kept the car planted between the two lines. Putting two fingers on the wheel I allowed the car to drive itself along. With no correction needed from myself, the car was smooth and followed the road perfectly, I was really impressed with this feature. Other cars that I have driven, corrects the car when going over the line making it jerky, I was really impressed at its accuracy.
Getting off the A419, I parked at the front of the Muddy Duck cafe, just off the Spine Road. Stuck right in front of the building was a car charging point (EVCP). I had never seen it before but it must had been there a while. It was obvious that the infrastructure for electric cars is in place for a full electric car owner but until then, I had never seen it. Parked up I went around the car and tested as much as I could. I even peeked under the bonnet to see what was under there. It looked like a motor but there were lots of bright orange, thick wires. The charging point was checked and finally the rest of the buttons, switches along with the Infotainment system were tried. It all worked brilliantly, the sat-nav, stereo and the other functions. A few photos and I had some more testing I wanted to do.
Every day use.
Wanting to try it as I would if it were my own car, I made my way to Dobbies garden centre and parked it up. Wandering around looking at the plants and parasols, I could feel the key was heavy in my pocket. It was calling to me to get back out on the road and drive the Kona some more. Always a good test to see if it captured my attention, this one did.
After ten minutes, I was back behind the wheel and happily rolling out of the car park. I needed to check to see if there were plenty of room in the back so it was back to my house to pick up the 15-year old. She would be camped out in the back on long journeys so deserved a say. As I drove into my estate, I opened the window and at the low speed I could hear a low humming noise from the car. A new law was passed in 2019, which Hyundai had already actioned. The hum was like the start of the ‘THX’ advert at the beginning of a movie. It got a bit louder as I sped up but the noise was nice.
Getting the 15 year old and popping her in the back, I made my way back towards town. It was clear that the car impressed her, she liked the interior and even the sound it made. There was a definite smile when I hit the power as well (although she will deny it.. 15 after all)… When going around a few corners she complained about her leg space. She had loads of knee room, but it was the legs.
Will I buy a Kona?
Up to this point the only complaint I had about the whole car, was that the steering wheel was a little bit on the skinny side, which I had not even bothered to mention until this happened. Checking out the space in the back, I realised she had a point in what she was saying. At 6’1″ I hoped in the back and although I had loads of knee and head room, my feet felt quite high up. This meant that the back of my legs were in the air and off the seat. The footwells did not seen to be deep enough. For those at the front this was not a problem, being able to kick their legs out in front. A luxury which the rear passengers do not get.
I felt gutted, I had fallen in love with the Hyundai Kona, it was fast, good looking and had some great features. It was green, with zero emissions and at the £30k mark. Until I put someone in the back, it was passing all three of my tests, with flying colours. Ticking all the boxes. The Kona was putting itself into the serious contender category.
Driving back to the garage, all the excitement about owning a Hyundai Kona electric was slowly slipping away. It really is a beautiful car and it really was 99% perfect. Back at Pebley Beach, the sales staff were great. They asked how I had got on, so I told them that if only the rear footwells were just a little bit deeper, I would probably be ordering one that day.
They knew I had a few more cars to test drive and were professional about it. If the footwell was the only issue with the Hyundai Kona, that I struggled to get over, then there was a chance that the other cars would have some issues as well. Regardless of the rear seats, the Kona still remains a serious contender. If someone has little use of the back seat, this really is a great car and I would be highly recommending it to them.
If nothing else, I would definitely suggest a call to Sean at Pebley Beach for a chat about one. It would be hugely beneficial to anyone thinking of purchasing an electric car. Tell him the Caveman referred you and I am sure he will look after you.