By NITISH S. RELE – motoringtampabay@gmail.com

Tesla 3, meet Kona electric. The Hyundai subcompact crossover can go up to 258 miles on a full charge, thanks to the 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. And unlike the Tesla 3, which starts at nearly $47,000, the front-wheel-drive Kona e is base-priced at just $34,000 with the Limited edition at $44,500.

A 150kW permanent-magnet synchronous motor puts out 201 horsepower @3600 rpm and 291 pounds-feet of torque. That is plenty for the car to take off instantly while assuring the driver a smooth, quiet and graceful ride. The single-speed direct transmission is flawless with eco, comfort and sport modes available. A recalibrated MacPerson strut front and multilink rear suspension does an outstanding job of leveling bumps and potholes while the motor-driven power steering is communicative with quick turn-in. Also, additional sound-damping materials hold wind/road noise, vibration and harshness to a minimum.

Some may find the front port/flap a bit awkward but it is definitely convenient when you pull into a charge station or your garage to connect cables for more juice. On a 240-volt, it will take between 9 to 10 hours while a fast DC charge can load up 80 percent in just 55 minutes. Otherwise, the front look is bold and stylish with LED headlights and slimmer daytime running lights, plus active lower grille shutters.

With length up by 1.6 inches and rear legroom increase of 0.6 inches, there is plentiful space for those usually tall passengers. Our Limited test version came with standard 10.25 screens for infotainment as well as digital instrument cluster of speedometer, power gauge, charge level, digital and trip odometers. The push-button gear selector may be tricky but with time should be easy to operate. We especially liked the high-mounted center console with easy access to lower storage space. Other standard amenities include power tilt/slide moon roof, eight-way power driver and six-way adjustable front-passenger seats (cooled and heated), auto a/c, 60/40 rear seat and a three-spoke leather tilt/telescopic steering column.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, electronic stability and traction controls, brake assist, blind spot, forward-collision and rear-cross traffic collision avoid assists, front avoid assist, lane keep and follow assists, front crumple zones, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights come at no extra cost.

As gas prices continue to hover near $4 a gallon, going fully electric makes even more sense than ever before. And the Kona electric appears to be a viable and right choice not just for affordability and performance but also plentiful tech and comfort features. Lest we forget, Hyundai offers assuring warranties such as five-year, 60,000-mile basic and 10-year, 100,000-mile battery and power train warranties.


Tires: 215/55R17

Wheelbase: 102.4 inches

Length: 165.6 inches

Width: 70.9 inches

Height: 61.2 inches

Weight: 3,836 pounds

MPGe: 132 city, 108 highway, 120 combined

Web site: www.hyundaiusa.com