If you’d asked me a few years ago if India would have reasonably affordable electric cars on the market anytime soon, I would’ve said, ‘Not a chance.’ And if you’d asked me if an electric car could land a spot as one of our top 5 cars of 2019, I would’ve said, ‘Over my dead body.’ But, on both counts, I’d have been absolutely wrong. No surprise there, I suppose.
You see, at the best of times, predicting the future course of technology is a risky business, especially given the rapidly changing nature of technology – and this is even truer for the automobile business.
So, here we are, testing a pure electric vehicle, and a relatively affordable one at that, at the BIC. Now, let me get the obvious fact out of the way – at an ex-showroom price of just under ₹24 lakhs, the Kona Electric isn’t exactly cheap. But, as any buyer of the latest iPhone, MacBook Pro or 4K TV will attest to, cutting-edge technology is hardly ever cheap.
With its 134bhp and a monstrous 395Nm of torque from its electric powertrain, powered by a 39.2kWh Li-ion Polymer battery pack, the Kona Electric means business. Of course, there are two aspects of driving a purely-electric vehicle that impress you. First, the remarkable silence of the powertrain, or rather the absence of engine noise, and two, the instant torque available from zero rpm – it’s an electric motor powering the wheels, after all.
The instant torque contributes significantly to the Kona’s performance on the track. With a lap time of 1:14.4, it was fairly quick, but this is only half the story. To be honest, despite its low centre of gravity, courtesy of the fact that the battery is mounted on the floor of the chassis, the Kona feels a tad wayward at the track. Power comes in like an on-off switch, and the total lack of feel doesn’t help either.
But, the Kona scores very well in terms of refinement, which is absolutely fantastic, and the drivetrain, of course, is cutting-edge. The Kona also scored impressively when it came to X-Factor – it is, after all, India’s first truly practical electric vehicle with 280-odd kilometres of range on a single charge after all.
Of course, there are compromises. If you can’t find a fast charger, you need at least 4 to 6 hours to charge the Kona to achieve respectable range. But the fact that you can get a proper electric vehicle for under ₹25 lakhs makes this a very attractive proposition for both the early adopter and those who are environmentally inclined.
And, lastly, it also gets points for the fact that Hyundai became the first manufacturer to introduce a reasonably priced, world-class electric vehicle in India, leading the market in EV technology. It may not be a driver’s car, but it still is a deserving winner in terms of practicality, effective range, comfort, and, of course, not to mention the fact that it’s futuristic and allows you to flaunt your green credentials.