The next leg from Euroa to Barnawartha North, near our final destination of Albury, was about 140 kilometres. The Leaf had 230 kilometres after charging at Euroa and arrived at Barnawartha North with 53 kilometres. The Kona had 435 kilometres at Euroa which dropped to 232 kilometres. Charging at Barnawartha North Chargefox took about 25 minutes.
As the drive was predominantly on the freeway, there was little chance for the cars to recapture energy through regenerative braking. The Leaf’s e-Pedal function uses the accelerator as a brake and can bring the car to a complete stop. The Kona too has different levels of regenerative braking that can bring the car to a stop.
When driving both cars in an urban environment, where there is more braking and stop-start traffic, you can see the regenerative braking working to recoup energy. But until more charging stations are up and running in regional areas, driving EVs long distances will remain a challenge.
During the brief dynamic section of our route, the Kona proved itself to be a seriously fun drive, with the handling characteristics of a small warm hatch. The Leaf lacked the same prowess. Steering in both cars felt synthetic and heavily weighted, but ride quality is impressive.
The Kona isn’t as well insulated as the Leaf, with a lot of tyre roar and road noise creeping into the cabin.
Inside, the Kona Electric differs from the non-EV version with a raised centre console housing the transmission buttons and a storage area underneath, and it gains unique trim colours and materials.
The Kona’s cabin is more appealing than the Leaf’s which has a generic look and dated switchgear. The Leaf has much more occupant space in the second row compared with the Kona, which has poor knee and toe room. The Kona’s shallow 332-litre boot is easily beaten by the Leaf’s 405 litres.
The Kona feels more modern than the Leaf and, despite the price difference, the Hyundai is the car we would take home in this comparison. The Leaf is great as a city car, but any jaunt beyond urban boundaries would have to be carefully planned.