Founder. Environmentalist. EV Enthusiast. Dad.

Hyundai Kona EV Review + what I think after driving a Tesla/Leaf for 3+ years

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So we collected our Kona EV Premium SE 64 kWh in Two-Tone Ceramic Blue on Monday, I’ve only driven it for 60 miles but here are my first impressions, I will continue to update this page once I learn more, if you have any questions shout on Twitter and I’ll do my best to answer them.

For those not aware, we have a Tesla Model S as our main car and this will be our new second car, replacing the 2-year-old 30kWh Nissan Leaf, it will primarily be driven by Grace to/from work and up to see friends + family when the Tesla is being used. We have two Model 3s on order, however, I will be cancelling one of those due to buying this car, the Model 3 is probably the superior car, however, we have a dog and the Model 3 boot just isn’t workable with a dog in it without putting down the seats which we cannot do as we have a baby on the way.

After ordering this car (£32,780, top spec) without test driving or even seeing it in the flesh it felt like a bit of a gamble but I knew with the 8-year battery warranty and 5-year warranty on the rest we would just about be OK. I must blame Bjørn Nyland for his in-depth review that pushed us over the edge to buy though, without watching nearly 2 hours of review I wouldn’t have pushed the buy button (good work Hyundai PR giving him a car). We ordered 4th August 2018 and it arrived 24th September 2018, which blew me away, some have said we got lucky but I think the truth is we took a gamble and it paid off!

The good:

  • 64 kWh of usable battery (actually 67kWh total) at £32K
  • Strong regen
  • Lane Keep / Smart Cruise is decent, although the lack of a disengaged noise is concerning when you’re so used to Tesla AP system
  • Interior finish
  • Sound system
  • Acceleration is better than I expected (& I drive a P100D) 0-62mph in 7.6s
  • CCS is so much better than Type 1 + CHAdeMO, as we have Type 2 cables. If it was Type 2 + CHAdeMO we would have been equally happy.
  • Apple CarPlay (although we’re yet to get Waze working)
  • QI Phone charging
  • Ventilated/Heated seats look & feel decent
  • Regen paddle shifter (pulling it for .5s slows the car to a complete stop)
  • Blind spot lights
  • We can charge this from the spare Tesla UMC Commando 32amp adapter we have and the sockets installed at friends and family homes.
  • We can set the max charge level to whatever % we want, why was this ever removed from the Nissan Leaf?
  • The warranty! 5 years on the car and 8 on the battery.

The OK:

  • The looks, it’s no Model 3 but it’s practical
  • 42kW charging… Yes it can do 80/100kW but there are 0 posts that offer that in the UK, I miss 118kW superchargers!
  • Having to plug in a phone to use CarPlay, I had stupidly presumed it could use Bluetooth.
  • Auto Hold seems to turn off each time we start the car.
  • The outside noise does the opposite and turns on every time you start the car (like the Leaf).
  • Boot space is noticeably smaller than the Leaf, however with all the bits out it’s much deeper
  • It reads our emojis in names when ringing people etc

The bad:

  • No app connectivity – this is very annoying coming from a Tesla/Leaf owners point of view (although you can schedule charge/heating from within the car).
  • No frunk sucks
  • Interior road/wind noise is worse than the Leaf 30kWh
  • I’m told Ecotricity CCS chargers don’t like the car if it’s below 70% SOC
  • Light on charge port turns off too quickly so you’re left in the dark fumbling around to put the DC + AC caps back on
  • The CCS plastic/rubber covers are a pain to put back on, why do we need them? I might cut them off…

Things I don’t know the answers to yet but will be testing

  • The real life Wh/mi efficiency
  • How far we can actually drive with it
  • How Good/Bad the handling actually is

Things I wish my Tesla has that the Kona has:

  • Driver attention warning – it uses a camera inside the cabin to check how awake and attentive you’re in your driving and alerts you if it thinks you need a break (coffee icon).
  • Regen steering wheel paddles, when you brake on the normal pedal (or release the accelerator) it uses the standard 1-3 levels of regen (depending on what you’ve set for that driving mode) but if you brake hard it uses more regen to slow the car down whilst also using the standard brakes, however, if you pull on the left paddle the car will brake with full regen to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal. True one-foot driving if you want. You can also set this to Auto where it uses the car in front + driving conditions to decide what level of regen should be given (we’ve not used it yet).
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) – Using 180-degree radar when you’re reversing out of a car park space it senses if cars are approaching/waiting and alerts you of them.
  • Apple CarPlay & Android Auto (via USB only)
  • Wireless QI phone charging as standard
  • HUD, maybe it’s just because it’s new and shiny but the HUD is really great. It looks a bit crap (it’s basically a thick bit of plastic that comes up on a noisy motor) but IMO this is what Tesla should have had (but prettier and quieter) on the Model 3.

Things I’m glad the Kona has that my Tesla also has:

  • Lane Following Assist (LFA) – Centered in the lane (like Tesla Autosteer) – However, the system will basically not warn you once it’s disengaged (the light simply goes out for that icon on the HUD) but it will continue to try and engage again (unlike the Tesla system).

  • Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go (SCC w/ S&G) – Basically Tesla TACC (Traffic Aware Crusie Control)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) – when LFA isn’t enabled the car will push you away from the lines if you’re crossing them without indicating. Similar to the vibrate you get with Tesla lane departure warning but instead it pushes you back into the lane. A bit daunting at first!
  • Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with lane change assist – if a car is in your blind spot a light on the mirror displays, if you indicate the car beeps at you to warn you. Ours just won’t let you change lane.
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection. The Tesla has the same + will work with bicycles.
  • It reads speed limit signs etc
  • Auto Lights.
  • Hill Start Assist Control (HAC)


I’m impressed so far, Hyundai have created a decent car and with an estimated range of ~200-250 real world miles this really is superb when you compare the current available competition… A Tesla Model S 75D or an iPace at basically double the price, however, when the Tesla Model 3 arrives I think Hyundai will start to struggle to sell these but they have a good 6-12 months time to sell loads of them.

I just wish the 80-100kW rapid charger network is rolled out nationwide a little quicker…

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