Pros and Cons: 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric, possibly Malaysia's best value-for-money EV
Sanjay · Feb 19, 2022 10:00 AM
Malaysia’s electric vehicle (EV) arena is still far from being the most populous, but at least with each passing year there’s a longer list of choices. One of them – introduced last year – is the Hyundai Kona Electric range.
With us this past week was the mid-range Kona Electric e-Plus, and this is our short Pros and Cons list of the sole Korean EV option in Malaysia.
Pro #1: Good value proposition
With tax-free prices starting from RM 149,888, the Kona Electric line-up unseats the Nissan Leaf (RM 168k) as Malaysia’s cheapest EV. And though this RM 169k Kona Electric e-Plus (as tested) is a sliver pricier than the Nissan, we think it’s money well spent.
For one, the Kona is simply a more modern product. The interior already looks miles better than the drab black cabin of the Leaf (which still has a CD player!) and perceived quality is also higher, thanks to use of aesthetically-pleasing materials and colour combinations.
Then you get to its list of features: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is present, there’s a crisp full-digital instrument cluster, and buyers also get a complete suite of ADAS – things the Leaf misses out on.
Pro #3: Conventional connectivity, quicker charging
Another EV-specific benefit the Kona Electric offers is in its charging, as it offers 11 kW AC charging at the minimum, which means a 0%-100% charge time only takes 4.5 hours.
The Leaf's 6.6 kW AC charging results in a 7-hour charge time for the same-sized battery.
In terms of DC fast charging capabilities, the Kona Electric supports a maximum charge rate of more than 50 kW, which means 10% - 80% charging in just 47 minutes. Contrary to that is the Leaf, with its maximum DC fast charge rate of 50 kW, charging up to the same percentage takes an hour or so.
The Kona’s small cargo space isn’t winning it any more points for being a family-centric SUV. VDA-rated boot space is 332 litres (1,114 litres with the rear seats down), and this is thoroughly eclipsed by the Leaf which has 435 litres of boot space.
The ride is also relatively stiff. Take it along rough roads and almost every jolt judder transfer to the cabin, almost a little too harshly. Even on highways, bumping on road connectors sends vibrations to the cabin that detracts from the overall 'EV experience'. However, it more controlled over larger undulations (better than regular variants), but it's still a little too stiff as a whole.
Con #2: Cabin is noisier than expected
The ‘blissful silence’ of EV driving is a merit that’s surprisingly hard to find in the Kona Electric, which was surprising to say the least.
At city speeds yes it’s still impressively quiet, but take things up a notch and it's a noisier experience than the regular Kona. Perhaps this can be pinned to the tyre choice: the Kona Electric uses Nexen Nfera SU1, while the regular ones roll on Continental UC6s.
2022 Hyundai Kona Cabin Noise Test
Idle, A/C on
Con #3: Button-operated gear-shift needs getting used to
Cool looks aside, a button operated gear shifter isn't quite the easiest thing to use. Yes, it frees up space and it gives the interior a more modern touch, but using it in during parking isn't the easiest thing.
A certain level of guesswork is needed, and each time you want to change gears (say you're parallel parking) you'll have to look at which button you're pressing, preventing you from intuitively changing gears like you would with a conventional gear lever.
Conclusion: A well-rounded EV choice
When all’s said and done the Hyundai Kona Electric is certainly a compelling entry point into EV ownership in Malaysia – if you take the base model, it’s the cheapest way in, and in this mid-range guise it offers a lot of car for the money.
With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.