2024 Hyundai Kona Electric: Picking Up Where It Left Off, Just Bigger and Bolder

Published on December 16, 2023 in First Drives by Vincent Aubé

Victoria, B.C.—Hyundai Canada this week invited a few members of the automotive media from coast to coast to test drive the second generation of the battery-powered Kona.

The small crossover from South Korea quickly earned praise from Canadians when it launched in 2017 (as a 2018 model). Quirky styling caught their attention, and they then discovered a vehicle that had a lot to offer at prices most regular people could afford, as is typically the case with Hyundai.

Company reps love to say they’re always listening to what customers want and need. That’s why the first-generation Kona aimed to cater to a wide array of drivers. In addition to two internal combustion engines, the lineup also included a fully electric powertrain. And for the final year, a tire-burning, high-performance Kona N with 276 horsepower made a number of enthusiasts happy.

Now, we get a completely redesigned Kona for 2024, which is once again available in ICE and EV variants. The latter comes in two trim levels—Preferred and Ultimate—and we spent time with the more expensive of the two on a rainy day in beautiful Victoria, B.C. The western province has the highest percentage of new zero-emission vehicle registrations in the entire country, by the way.  

Photo: Vincent Aubé

Bold Looks

The conventionally powered 2024 Hyundai Kona has been on sale for a few months, and the new Kona Electric is now arriving in dealerships with similarly bold looks that some people will love and others won’t. You can’t say Hyundai designers played it safe with this one.

There are minor differences, mind you, like a gloss black strip around the lower body and a more aerodynamic front fascia with a bunch of pixels at the bottom. Above is where you’ll find the charging port door once again, complete with the same heating system that ensures it won’t freeze and stay shut in winter.

Photo: Vincent Aubé

Bulging wheel arches and Z-shaped creases on the doors highlight the side view, not to mention the kink in the windows where they meet the small rooftop spoiler. The treatment in the rear mirrors what designers have done at the other end. Oh, I forgot to tell you that aero-style, 17-inch alloy wheels are the only ones you can have on the two Kona Electric models.

Techy Cabin

Hyundai’s latest models, including the IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6, have all adopted a large digital interface, and the Kona Electric is no exception. Another similarity is the brand’s logo being replaced with four dots on the steering wheel (Morse code for the letter “H”), plus the column-mounted gear selector that frees up space on the centre console between the front occupants.

Below the centre touchscreen is a series of physical controls (thank you Hyundai!) for the audio and HVAC systems. Further down, you’ll find a wireless charger for smartphones along with controls for the heated/ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel and drive mode selection.

Photo: Vincent Aubé

While the cabin looks super-techy, many hard plastics remain on the dashboard, centre console and door panels. Not a deal-breaker, but considering the price, they’re kind of tough to overlook. On a positive note, those plastics are easier to keep clean and spotless than piano black trim, that’s for sure.

A Bigger Kona

Based on a new platform, the second-gen Kona was developed as an EV first, then with a gas variant in mind. Both are significantly larger than their predecessors. In fact, Hyundai says cargo capacity is increased by 33 percent. Just pop the rear liftgate and all that extra space in the trunk will jump out at you. Under the floor is additional storage to keep valuables away from prying eyes.  

Photo: Vincent Aubé

The powertrain is essentially unchanged, but while output is still rated at 201 horsepower, peak torque is down from 291 lb-ft to 188 lb-ft. And it shows every time you want to accelerate from a standstill. The good thing is that the reduced torque puts less stress on the front tires and causes less wheelspin than in the past. Keep in mind we turned traction control off for the purpose of this test.

Because the 2024 Kona Electric is heavier and not any more powerful, there’s no adrenaline rush like the one you’d experience with the aforementioned IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6 in their dual-motor configuration. That’s not the point of this crossover, of course, which is more about emission-free commuting and easy driving around town. Also, the only sound coming from the vehicle is similar to that of many other EVs on the market and should not bug your neighbours.

On the delightfully twisty roads near Victoria, the 2024 Kona Electric proved more comfortable than the original thanks to the new platform. It’s actually quite smooth for a compact SUV, no matter which drive mode you select. Steering is precise enough so you don’t have to work too hard in tricky situations. The FWD-only setup and low-rolling resistance tires continue to be an issue on slippery surfaces, however. Cornering must be undertaken at slower speeds to allow the front wheels to dig into the pavement, especially when it’s cold.

Photo: Vincent Aubé

We couldn’t properly assess the vehicle’s range during the media drive, but the display read 330 km at the beginning of the day, with an outside temperature of 5°C. Average energy consumption amounted to 17.3 kWh/100 km, or 1 kWh higher than the official NRC rating. Smoother driving without the use of Sport mode would likely have helped. Considering the weather conditions and the many sprints we did throughout the day, the result we got was more than reasonable.

Our Verdict

Starting at $46,399 in Preferred trim and $51,199 in Ultimate trim, the 2024 Hyundai Kona Electric is more affordable than the IONIQ 5, which retails from $54,999. The base model offers excellent value with the same heat pump, wheels, displays, heated charging port door and advanced driver assistance features as the more upscale model.  

Photo: Vincent Aubé

The Kona Electric Ultimate comes with a number of gadgets that we didn’t get the opportunity to try out, such as a digital key that can be shared remotely among different users. Another innovation is battery preconditioning, which allows faster, safer charging in super-cold or super-hot temperatures.  

Following the departure of direct rivals including the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Kia Soul EV, Hyundai is nicely positioned to increase its market share in the entry-level EV segment.

Test drive report
Test model 2024 Hyundai Kona
Trim level EV Ultimate
Price range $25,999 – $55,000
Price as tested CA$51,199
Warranty (basic) 5 years/100,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 5 years/100,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) N/A
Options None
Competitive models Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Kia Niro, Mazda MX-30, Subaru Solterra, Toyota bZ4X, Volkswagen ID.4
Strong points
  • Increased comfort levels
  • Still affordable
  • More interior space
Weak points
  • Same power, less torque
  • Hard plastics in the cabin
  • Reliability TBD
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 4.0/5 With real-world combined consumption of around 17 kWh/100 km, the Kona Electric is quite efficient.
Comfort 4.0/5 The new generation is significantly more comfortable than the previous one.
Performance 3.0/5 The 201 hp are nice, but torque is way down and acceleration suffers as a result.
Infotainment 3.5/5 The interface is crisp and responsive. Maybe too many icons and menus.
Driving 3.5/5 Not overly powerful, but still pretty fun to drive around town.
Overall 4.0/5 At $46,399 (not counting available EV rebates), the 2024 Kona Electric is fairly cheap and a great way for many Canadians to go electric.
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