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MOTORS: Spy in cab safety feature on Hyundai Kona may be hazardous

By Ali Morrison

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Hyundai Kona.
Hyundai Kona.

Hopefully winter and its accompanying weather is well behind us and we can look forward to a sunny summer, but I still have chilly memories of frosty mornings and dreading that first freezing touch of the car door.

You know things will improve once inside especially if you have heated seats and steering wheel.

But if you’ve got an EV there’s an additional chilly task, unplugging the charging cable if you’ve had it connected to the mains overnight.

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Hyundai have thought of that in their latest Kona EV, the second generation of the model.

It’s radically different from the previous version, because it’s been developed as an electric vehicle first and an internal combustion-engined car second rather than the other way around with the original model.

That means it has specific EV features including, as part of the Lux Pack on the Ultimate version featured test car, a heated charging port door so you don’t get frozen out during winter or suffer frostbite as you disconnect.

Hyundai Kona.
Hyundai Kona.

The outgoing Kona has been a success for Hyundai, particularly as an EV which accounted for around 40 per cent of its European sales and this is expected to increase to 60 per cent once customers see what’s on offer with the new one, which won the Mid-Size EV category in the Scottish Car of the Year Awards last year.

It’s bigger inside and out with stacks of room for full-size adults with a boot large enough to take all their luggage. The latest styling marks it out clearly as part of the Hyundai EV family, headed by the splendid Ioniq 6.

It comes in three trim levels, Advance, N-Line and the test car Ultimate with the Lux Pack. That adds more luxurious seats in ECO suede and leather with memory for the driver’s with premium relaxation function, remote smart park assist and that heated charging door.

There are two battery sizes – one of 48.4kWh with a 156 PS electric motor and the test car’s 65.4kWh with a more powerful 218 PS motor. The range is variable depending on the conditions but you should expect up to 300 miles on a full charge.

The interior is miles away from the conventional and is easy-on-the-eye and bursting with technology. Like the Ioniqs, the gear selector is on a stalk behind the steering wheel, a growing trend with EVs and brings a new take to the old idea of column shift.

It takes a wee bit of getting used to, but once you do it feels natural with a gear display on the info screen. It releases extra storage space between the driver and front passenger where the gearshift would have been.

Behind the wheel are paddles to alter the level of regenerative braking to keep the battery topped up and can even bring the car to a stop without having to touch the brake pedal. Again it’s a technique which takes time to perfect with good anticipation but it’s very effective and saves on brake wear and ultimately servicing costs.

It drives well with seamless progression up the speedo and the relatively soft suspension means you get a comfortable ride, whatever the questionable road surface.

The test car’s cockpit was very grey but clean and crisp and that also goes for the twin 12.3-inch LED info and touchscreen displays which stretch across the dash.

What I didn’t like and which has attracted widespread criticism is the Driver Status Monitor which is effectively a spy in the cab designed to alert you with bongs and pings if your attention drops before you become drowsy. It’s fine in theory but in practice is too sensitive with loud warnings even if you take your eye off the road for a second to do something as simple as check the touchscreen or look to either side at passing traffic. It’s one of these annoying safety features like lane departure which can actually create a hazard rather than avoid one.

Hyundai Kona.
Hyundai Kona.

Hyundai Kona Electric Ultimate

PRICE: £44,695

ENGINE: 65.4kWh battery Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor

POWER: 218 PS o

TORQUE: 255 Nm

TOP SPEED: 107mph

0-62mph: 7.8 secs

RANGE: 319 miles

CHARGING TIME: 10-80 per cent 41 minutes

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