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I am a stubborn petrolhead. The smell of recycled dinosaurs unleashes an overflow of serotonin in my head, the clank of a manual gearbox releases oxytocin into my system and the screams from the burning rubber trying to grip the tarmac while I hammer onto the chicane fuels my body with A+ quality adrenaline. Which explained the skepticism I encountered when I stood in front of the Hyundai Kona EV. I certainly don’t have any problem with electricity as a means of propulsion but there is always a part of me that keeps questioning if it is good enough. Which is why I took the Hyundai Kona EV to see if it can deliver the demands of a petrolhead.

UMMM WHERE’S THE GRILLE?….

There is none because the Kona EV doesn’t need an air supply which is a given since it’s an electric car. Instead, you get a closed textured grille that houses the charging port.

A signature feature on the new generation Hyundai is the slim elongated LED DRLs that rests on top of
a sleek chrome band that also encircles the Hyundai logo. Underneath the DRLs you get projector-style all-LED headlamps and positioning lamps that emphasize a smarter, futuristic look.

On the side, the Kona EV looks compact thanks to the shorter length and a sloping roof that comes in contrasting black color. The amount of cladding is just perfect and the car sits on 17-inch alloys which look great although wheel spokes could have been thinner.

The rear end is where the Hyundai Kona EV looks so compact, the rear LED headlamps and reflectors are placed close to each other making the rear look small. There is a black roof spoiler that stealthily houses the rear wiper. The rear end receives thick cladding to complete the look of a smart as well as a butch car.

WHERE IS THE GEAR LEVER ON THIS THING?…

Well… The Hyundai Kona EV doesn’t need one. The Kona EV comes with this neat button type shift by wire system that completely omits the need of a gearbox. You get four buttons for Park, Neutral, Drive and, Reverse and an electronic parking brake. The lack of a gearbox frees heaps of space on the center console that is put to good use by turning them into clever storage spaces up front and under the console. The Kona EV is a comfortable place to be, the front seats are electrically adjustable and offer amazing cushioning. The driver’s seat features lumbar support and the steering is adjustable both for reach and rake which makes finding a driving spot that is perfect for you easy.

The front seats of the Kona EV are heated, but they are ventilated as well which is a godsend in this heat we are experiencing in Kathmandu right now. It felt like someone was gently rubbing my back and my bottom with an ice pack as I was putting the Kona through its paces. The rear seat offers plenty of shoulder and legroom for all three passengers on board. The cushioning on the rear is great but a little stiff for the middle passenger but nothing to worry about on long journeys. You won’t find rear AC vents on the Kona EV which is odd and not like Hyundai at all considering you get rear AC vents even on the company’s Grand i10.

Apart from that, you get a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen that supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There is also a 7-inch instrument cluster. You get paddle shifters and keyless entry and ignition and even a wireless phone charger built smartly into the center console. Topping out the interior is a large boot with a capacity of 332 liters that comes with a low loading floor which makes packing and removing of luggage much more convenient. Overall, the modernist approach of the interior in this car scores top marks.

POP OPEN THE BONNET…

And you will find that most of the components you have seen in a combustion engine isn’t here. No, you are not going to find steaming cylinders or a turbo header. Rather, you’ll find a motor and lots of wiring which isn’t too exciting. The Hyundai Kona EV is powered by a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor that is juiced by a 39 kWh battery with a claimed range of 300 kilometers and a full charge cycle of 15 hours from your regular home socket. It sounds more like a spec sheet of a gaming computer than a car engine. The battery pack sits underneath the body of the car.

The Hyundai Kona EV features 3 different driving modes; Eco is the best suited to get the most mileage out of the battery. The Comfort mode is best suited for cities with the best blend of mileage and power. The Kona EV also comes with 3 levels of regenerative braking which recharges the battery with the power released from the braking. On the urban driving conditions, the Kona EV builds up power instantly
which is a natural EV trait and you don’t have to think twice to pass a vehicle. The steering wheel is as smooth as silk and the suspension is adequate enough to take all the bumps on the road. All in all, you will never get tired of maneuvering the Kona in the city all day.

Switch over to the Sport mode, and the Hyundai Kona EV will show you its wild card. The instrument cluster turns orange and with a tap of the throttle, you have got a car that accelerates as it has fallen off a cliff. The motor sends 135 electrifying horses and 395 Nm of instant torque to the front wheels that fling the Hyundai Kona EV from 0 to 100 km/h in just under 10 seconds. What makes it surreal is the utter silence that compliments this violent propulsion because there is no noise accompanying it… What’s more impressive is that most of those 10 seconds are spent on the 80-100 km/h run which means the 0 to 80 km/h drag is like a maniacal gust of wind that will knock you back into your seat and take your socks off as you bawl with excitement.

I never thought I would say this, but the Hyundai Kona EV is alarmingly fast and it put a massive smile on my face. With great speed come greater safety requirements and Hyundai has left no stone unturned in terms of safety as the Kona EV comes with the latest safety tech in the industry. The body of the Kona benefits from superior rigidity through the use of Advanced High Strength Steel and high impact energy absorption that protects the passengers in the event of a collision. On the gadget front, you get 6 airbags, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Assist Control, reverse parking camera and sensors, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and much more. While the Hyundai Kona is mind-blowingly fast, it also has a wide safety net for you to fall safely into should anything go wrong.

WHEN YOU HAVE DRIVEN AS MANY CARS AS I HAVE…

Losing count is easy, and you only tend to remember the ones that were exciting. And to think that an electric car would make that list is definitely something. While the Hyundai Kona EV might be dwarfed by the performance figures of the Ford Mustang GT or the Jaguar F-Pace, but as a machine that delivers an endless flow of excitement on tap?, the Hyundai Kona EV is right up there.

It gives you the highest form of automotive pleasure and convenience when you want it to, but at a press of a button, it is having you scream like a giddy aunt and is giving all the fast cars in Kathmandu a serious run for their money. To this, I applaud the Hyundai Kona EV for
making a petrolhead eat his own words, and to the rest, I deeply urge you to drive the Hyundai Kona EV instead of just reading a brochure. The table seems to have turned on petrol and I can’t wait to see the end of it.

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