Culture | Mon 4 Nov
An Interview with Author Rosie Price
The novelist on her first book, childhood in Stroud and more
And she’s off! It’s Miss Dashboard driving the new Hyundai Kona, the electric version of car that Hyundai can’t make enough of.
Hold your horses – as looks can be deceptive. At first glance I wasn’t bowled over (and neither were the kids, my most useful of critics). You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is an average filly of a car – but once you realise that it can do as much as 280 miles on a full charge – the odds are that you’ll be as impressed as I was. The ‘range’ is so impressive I just have to repeat it – yes 280 miles without having to charge.
This is the first fully electric small SUV (a sports utility vehicle, which looks like, but is not necessarily a four wheel drive), so is the least expensive electric car for sale in the UK at the moment. It’s tempting to compare prices with a similar sized diesel or petrol version, but that’s like comparing a Shetland pony with a thoroughbred race-horse – they run completely differently. And with this electric version it’s about the other world technology – and of course the fact that you’ll never have to use petrol or diesel again – but can gloat over the joys of getting from A to B on zero emission ‘fuel’.
The Kona is comfortable and fun to drive. I love the fact that it’s so high off the ground, giving great visibility over the hedges and around country corners. It has genuinely effective reversing mirrors and sensors (not as shrill as some) that are incredibly accurate. Many times I’ve been given the impression by other cars when reversing that I’m about to have a dramatic crash and got out to see I have about a furlong to spare!
The thing about an electric car like this is that you could just get in, press the drive button, put your foot on the pedal and make like a dodgem car, braking when necessary. But that would be so dull and you’d be missing out on the benefits of all the car’s cutting edge technology. One really exciting driving feature is the regenerative braking, operated by two paddles on the steering wheel. Using these can actually claw back electricity, making your charge go even further – and rather than hitting the foot brake, you can bring the car to a standing stop with the hand paddle. As electric cars are automatic, this will appeal to people who might miss changing gears manually to affect their speed – it certainly did for me.
There’s always the question about how easy it is to own and use an electric car. The answer is – it’s easy, especially if you have a fast charger installed at home (and you’d be mad not to). With a rapid charger you can get the Kona up to full charge in as little as 95 minutes and normal charging (from empty to full) is 9 ½ hours (so overnight, when tucked up in its stable/garage overnight).
The Kona is not the most ground-breaking car for back-seat passengers – as there are no plug-in points for media in the back – and now my kids are both nearly teenagers the two plastic cup holders just won’t do it for them any more. And the boot space isn’t huge. You’d be hard pushed to go away for a weekend with a family of four and luggage - but as a second car (and probably your first electric one), I’d highly recommend taking a punt.
And OMG, while the passengers aren’t overly pampered, being in control of the reins is an entirely different matter. It has a lumber support system to cradle your back – and (really exciting), in addition the heated seats, which are fairly standard on new cars these days, it also has a “ventilation” system for really hot weather – like a delicate hair dryer pampering you with a gently cooling breeze.
And for the safety fanatics, while it may not look like a tank, the Kona complies with the highest European safety standards. This includes autonomous emergency braking which will stop if a pedestrian should suddenly appear, lane assist, to stop you from drifting across the track, a detector for anything than appears in your blind spot and various other loud beeps and signals to stop you from breaking the speed limit or dozing off.
With other electric cars I’ve tended to use economy mode to eek out every last mile of range, but with this car you don’t need to be such a electricity miser and I already love that.
No doubt Nissan and Volkswagen will be demanding a steward’s enquiry into how a car similar in size to the Leaf and e-Golf can drive for twice as long on a full charge of electricity – but I feel that’s enough of the racing analogies!
Fuel consumption – no more trips to petrol stations – ever – and the range is so good you won’t even have to worry if you forget to plug it in every now and again. There are two electric models – the 39kWh (kilowatt hours) battery will give you up to 180 miles on a full charge and the 64kWh up to 279 miles
Road tax - £0 – it’s a zero emissions car
Safety – The maximum five star European (EURO NCAP) safety rating thanks to six airbags. And nearly as many safety features as Prestbury Park has hurdles!
Media - An easy to use touch screen system which accesses radio, satnav, blue-tooth connection – and has apple CarPlay and android auto, with options to link to spotify.
Your racing silks – Six colours galactic grey, acid yellow, ceramic blue, pulse red, chalk white, plus the pictured tangerine comet (perfect name for a race horse).
The drive – From a gentle trot on eco mode, to a canter in comfort mode and full on gallop in sports mode.
This year’s model – There are three to choose (SE, premium and premium SE) with the choice of the two batteries
Optional extras – Heated steering wheel, Two tone roof, metallic paint, home charging kit (a must have extra for the convenience of always being fully charged).
Warranty 5 year unlimited mileage and 8 year battery warranty
Price from £27,000 to £35,000, making it the cheapest electric car available in the UK.
Follow Alexandra on Twitter @MissDashboardUK for a refreshing take on cars.
The novelist on her first book, childhood in Stroud and more
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