Review: Hyundai Kona Electric e-Max – More range than a BMW iX

Review: Hyundai Kona Electric e-Max – More range than a BMW iX

Review: Hyundai Kona Electric e-Max – More range than a BMW iX

If there is one car that would lubricate the friction of shifting towards electric cars in Malaysia, it would be the Hyundai Kona electric.

I am lucky enough to have a family member purchase one of these nifty EVs. Hence, I shall share with you our experience with the Hyundai Kona Electric e-Max.

Hyundai Kona Electric e-Max overview

Hyundai Kona e-max
RM 199,888
Battery capacity
64 kWh
Range (WLTP)
484 km
Max. Power
204 PS
Max. Torque
395 Nm
0-100 km/h
7.9 s (claimed)
CBU from Korea

Now, the Hyundai Kona Electric is not exactly cheap, but it is the cheapest electric car in the market for the time being, with the e-lite variant starting at a price of RM 149,888, albeit with less range and less power.

Kona e-lite Kona e-plus Kona e-max
RM 149,888
RM 169,888
RM 199,888
Battery capacity
39.2 kWh
39.2 kWh
64 kWh
Range (WLTP)
305 km
305 km
484 km
Max. Power
136 PS
136 PS
204 PS
Max. Torque
395 Nm
395 Nm
395 Nm

The Hyundai Kona Electric e-Max has an impressive WLTP range of 484 km, which is actually the longest WLTP range you can get among all new EVs that are available in Malaysia right now, equally matching the Porsche Taycan RWD (with optional Performance Battery Plus).

It even beats its own sibling, the more premium Hyundai Ioniq 5 Max, when it comes to all-electric range. Good stuff.

Car Range (WLTP)
Hyundai Kona electric e-Max
484 km
Porsche Taycan RWD (with optional Performance Battery Plus)
484 km
460 km
Hyundai Ioniq 5 Max
430 km
BMW iX Drive40
425 km
Nissan Leaf
270 km
MINI Cooper SE
234 km

*List of EV range is based on models and variants available in Malaysia as of 13 March 2022. Yes, the BMW iX xDrive50 has a 630-km WLTP range, but it is not available in Malaysia.

Looks – Subtle and not too ahead of its time

Obvious tell-tale signs of the electric drivetrain in the Hyundai Kona Electric are the lack of a conventional grille, the lack of tailpipes, and an “electric” emblem on its arse.

A less obvious sign of the lack of an engine is the protruding aluminium at the bottom of the car that reduces ground clearance by 10mm. The aluminium piece serves to protect the car’s battery pack.

Overall, the Hyundai Kona Electric has a very clean look, with the “cladding-delete” from its ICE counterpart and its sleek two-tier headlight design.

The Hyundai Kona Electric is not exactly a looker, but get it in the right colour, and it will stand out just a little.

Size-wise, the Hyundai Kona Electric is similar to a Honda HR-V, measuring 4,205 mm in length, 1,800 mm in width, and 1,570mm in height, with a wheelbase of 2,600 mm

Hyundai Kona Electric Honda HR-V
4,205 mm
4,334 mm
1,800 mm
1,772 mm
1,570 mm
1,605 mm
2,600 mm
2,610 mm

Cabin – Decent, but doesn’t feel like the price tag suggests

The Hyundai Kona electric comes with two cabin colour options – black and grey. The grey option makes the cabin feel more spacious, while the black option creates a more sombre atmosphere.

The trims are mainly hard plastic, and honestly, don’t feel like a car that costs more than RM150k. The presentation is just a little dull.

Presentation aside, the Kona electric still feels a bit lacking in terms of trim materials. The fit and finish however, is pretty good.

At a price between RM150k to RM200k, a car like the Volkswagen Tiguan is a pretty good example of how a cabin should feel (felt lining in the door bins, decent soft-touch trims, and excellent cubby space, despite sombre colours). Test drive one and you will understand what I am talking about.

10.25-inch digital cluster

The Hyundai Kona e-Max does come with decent cabin features like wireless phone charging, head-up display, electric seat adjustment (driver & front passenger), a nifty digital instrument panel, and decent cubby spaces.

There's a decent amount of cubby space in the Hyundai Kona Electric thank to the two-tier centre console

The seats offer good support and feel snug, and I credit that to the extensive testing of seats through Korean NCAP. Korean cars tend to have ‘safer’ seats.

The fit and finish of the cabin is pleasing, but again, the presentation could use a little more chutzpah.

Space in the second row is decent, but it could be better. No clever seat configurations here *cough* Honda HR-V *cough* and there’s no reclining option for rear passengers.

Hyundai could a learn a thing or two from Honda when it comes to maximising cabin space. An acceptable second row nonetheless.

One thing I do like very much in the Hyundai Kona Electric is the seat cooling/heating function. It is a very handy feature to make the seats comfortable, especially on a hot day.

The seat cooling feature is very handy in our hot tropical weather

What is it like to drive? 

From the outside, the Hyundai Kona Electric sounds a bit like a spaceship. That’s quite nice.

From the inside, it isn’t as exhilarating as the spaceship sound suggests. That really isn’t a problem, as the Hyundai Kona Electric is smooth and quiet, especially at town speeds.

The driving experience is something refreshing for the average ICE owner, but something expected once you get used to electric cars.

The gear buttons take some getting used to, but it does make driving a lot simpler

It is very easy to drive, and the ‘gear buttons’ kind of make you feel like you’re driving in a computer game (with a keyboard). Paired with the electric parking brake, driving the Hyundai Kona electric is the least intimidating automotive experience one could ever have.

As for comfort, road noise and vibrations are at an acceptable level, even without the usual NVH paddings in ICE cars.

The ride is firm, and the car feels planted thanks to the lower center of gravity created by the EV battery pack.

As for the ADAS features, the Smart Cruise Control (SCC) system is decent and easy to use.

Tyres are 215/55R17. Hyundai gives you Nexen N'Fera SU1 tyres

On a side note, if you’ve just bought a Hyundai Kona Electric, be sure to adjust the tyre pressure right after taking delivery – Hyundai filled them up to 51 PSI (for storage purposes), making for a very, very hard ride. They’re supposed to be 36 PSI.

Charging Experience (with 11-kW AC charging)

Before buying the car, we’ve already installed a third-party wall-box charger at home (with some bits to make it portable). We have only tried charging with that method so far and have yet to try public AC or DC chargers.

Honestly, with the wallbox installed at home, you barely feel the long hours that it takes charge to 100% with an AC charger, since you’re chilling at home anyway.

For our first documented charging experience with the Hyundai Kona electric e-Max, we utilised an 11-kW AC charger (actually our home wall-box charger hooked up to a triple-phase connection).

The "ZenCar" charger is actually a third-party wall-box. You can choose to mount it on a wall or you could also treat it like a portable unit (with the right bits)

We managed to charge from 68% to 80% in 58 minutes, extending the range by 58 km (303 km to 356 km).

58 km of range gained in 58 minutes. Mind you this is is from an 11-kW AC charger, not a DC fast charger.

That means with an 11-kW AC charger you can get 1 km of range per minute.

Yes, we should try a DC fast charger, and we’ll do that very soon.

The Kona Electric does come with a 3-pin cable for granny-charging, in case you have no other options.

As for the topic of range, we are yet to test and experience the 484-km WLTP range of the Hyundai Kona Electric. We’ll be testing that in the weeks to come. Perhaps it is time for a road trip after staying at home all this while.

What we can say so far, is that range anxiety has not yet kicked in within our few days of ownership. We’ve always reached home way before depleting the battery.


The Hyundai Kona electric is reasonably priced if you opt for the e-Lite or e-Max variants. The e-Max is a bit pricey, but you have no other choice if you want the larger 64-kWh battery pack with 484 km of range (WLTP).

The price point of the e-Max does make you expect a bit more in the interior department, but I guess you’re paying more to avoid range anxiety.

It is a decent car, it doesn’t attract attention, and it increases the number of ‘beta testers’ for electric cars and EV infrastructures in Malaysia.

Arif Chan
With a deep interest and relevant experiences in the automotive industry, Arif writes about everything automotive. His employment history includes being an automotive engineer, a highway engineer, an alternative-fuel researcher, and a motoring journalist.