Recharging in Richmond
The last time I took the Hyundai Kona for a spin I thought it was young, sporty and fun. The Kona Electric is still all of these things, but it has definitely grown up a bit.
Say goodbye to the bright neons of the original Kona line. The Electric range offers a sophisticated, cool-toned colour palate, closed radiator grille and aerodynamic design that’ll still make you stand out from the crowd.
One of my biggest issues with the original petrol-powered Kona was the automatic transmission. I found that it lagged, especially driving up hills and out of corners. The Kona Electric gave me no such trouble. It glided up hills and could get me up to speed in no time with 395Nm of instant torque. Combined with the 150kW electric motor and 64kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, it gave an ultra-quiet, super-smooth and powerful drive.
Interestingly, when driving slowly I could hear a faint, almost musical hum. It vaguely reminded me of bagpipes. One of my passengers even said it sounded like angels. It turns out it was the Virtual Engine Sound System – a feature designed to keep pedestrians safe by playing a melodic driving sound when driving at low speeds so they can hear you coming.
Keen for our first fully electric experience, my friends and I jumped in bound for Richmond. As the view transformed into vineyards and paddocks, the Kona Electric handled the highway driving and the more narrow windy roads with comfort and ease.
We pulled into the historic village, and our first stop was the Town Hall market. We were greeted with the sound of a busker playing the harp and tables of handmade food, arts and crafts. We each picked up something we loved – a hairclip made of sassafras by Eden Design, some acrylic pour earrings by Catherine Anne Design and a thylacine print by Juicy Prints.
With lunch on our minds we stopped at Ashmore. This café has always been a favourite of mine for iced chocolates topped with lashings of whipped cream. We paired our chocolatey treats with a feast of jacket potatoes, salmon and a long overdue catch-up.
Needing to walk off all the food we’d just eaten, we perused the shops and galleries. My favourite shop in Richmond is The Gift of Wildlife. Owned by wildlife carer and designer Maria Novy, the boutique is stocked with handmade Australian and Tasmanian artwork, products and homewares that celebrate and raise awareness of our native animals.
The Gift of Wildlife helps to support Tasmanian wildlife carers at the Bonorong Wildlife Hospital, and most of the artists and designers in the store support their own wildlife organisations. Rather fittingly, we’d just seen a very brave echidna waddling across the road and stopping traffic!
We explored another couple of shops full of recycled materials and antiques before making a beeline for Sweets & Treats. Packed with locals and tourists, everywhere you look there are chocolate-coated raspberries, speckled gobstoppers, licorice allsorts and multicoloured boiled drops. Lollipops in hand, we headed to the Richmond Bridge for a quick photo-op before heading back to Hobart – making a quick pit stop at Wicked Cheese to stock up on some delicious Tasmanian brie and chilli cheddar.
My experience with the Kona didn’t stop at Richmond. I drove it around my local area all weekend and not once was I nervous about battery power.
Hyundai claims you can travel approximately 449km on a full charge in the Kona Electric, so I didn’t even need to plug it in at home. By the time I arrived at the Hyundai showroom on Monday morning it still had 61% left. To make your charge last longer you can also control the level of regenerative braking and choose from three different drive modes.
The Kona Electric still boasts all the things we love about the original version, such as electronically adjustable heated and cooling seats, infotainment screen, heads up display, reversing camera and wireless phone charger. It’s also packed with Hyundai’s SmartSense™ safety features including blind-spot collision warning, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic warning and smart cruise control, just to name a few.
Overall, the Kona Electric gave a powerful and peaceful drive. I felt in control and even better about the fact it was producing zero emissions. The entry level Elite model starts from $64,727 drive away and the Highlander model starts from $69,407 drive away.