Hyundai’s new subcompact Kona Electric will offer up to 292 miles of all-electric range with the utility of a crossover that buyers increasingly are seeking. This small electric SUV for Europe debuted at the Geneva Motor Show and is expected in the U.S. market. The Kona just could be the mainstream SUV option for eco-minded drivers.

With sporty looks, very similar to the gasoline-powered 2018 Kona set to arrive here this spring, the only major appearance changes for Kona Electric are a closed front grille and silver side sills. Another clue to its EV mission is the charging port located in the front fascia next to the Hyundai logo, just below the headlight on the driver’s side. Like the Kona, the Kona Electric is available with a two-tone roof, offering a way to personalize styling.

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Two battery pack choices

The Kona Electric will be offered with two, lithium-ion polymer battery options with a larger 64-kilowatt hour battery providing up to 292 miles of electric range. The base Kona EV will have a 39.2-kilowatt hour battery delivering a range of about 186 miles.

With instant torque from its front-mounted 200-horsepower electric motor, the Kona Electric with the larger battery pack accelerates from zero to 62 mph in just 7.6 seconds. The standard Kona EV is fitted with a 130-horse motor and it accelerates to 62 mph in 9.3 seconds.

“We are pushing our ambitious eco car strategy forward,” said Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, vice president of marketing and product at Hyundai Motor Europe, in a statement. “It’s a car of no compromise--combining an SUV body type with electric mobility. It represents Hyundai’s progressive character.”

The interior forgoes a traditional shifter and instead features a push button shift-by-wire system. This setup frees space in the center console for storage underneath.  Kona Electric also has an adjustable regenerative braking system that a driver can control via paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

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Digital instrumentation

A 7-inch TFT screen instrument cluster serves as the nerve center of the Kona EV, showcasing the speedometer, battery charge level, energy flow and driving mode.  The electric SUV also features a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen system with a rear-view camera in the center of the dash, while an 8-inch screen with navigation is optional.

Leather seats are available and a heated steering wheel is an option. A head-up display and the Korean automaker’s SmartSense safety and driving assistance package includes forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection and rear cross traffic collision warning.

The automaker has promised to bring eight new or redesigned crossovers to the U.S. market by 2020, including the Kona, models powered by electricity, fuel cells and diesel, plus an A-segment model and a midsize crossover. Pricing for Kona Electric was not disclosed. A base gasoline-powered Kona in the U.S. starts at just under $21,000 including delivery.

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