Here’s the newest car to come out of Hyundai; the Kona, seen in the flesh in this series of first official photographs after numerous teasers. The car itself, which is meant to take the Korean automaker’s fight to such small crossovers as the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Ford Ecosport, and Peugeot 2008, was launched at an even in the automaker’s home country capital of Seoul.
This will add a third member to already well-established range of Hyundai SUVs, sitting below the Tucson and Santa Fe. While its European appeal is all but certain, we do wonder if they intend for it to be a strong seller in North America, where Hyundai has taken name inspiration from for all its high-riders. This newest one has its moniker plucked from an area on Hawaii’s Big Island.
“With the Kona, we have created a stylish and highly functional compact SUV, perfectly suited to the needs of customers who pursue challenging, action-filled lifestyles,” said Euisun Chung, Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Company. “We aim to set new standards for the compact SUV segment, with appealing design, cutting-edge connectivity and class leading safety features.”
The Kona sits on a new platform that Hyundai has developed specifically for compact SUVs, with an emphasis of maximising cabin space despite the inclusion of all-wheel drive on some variants. Under the bonnet of the lower-tier Kona lives a familiar Hyundai powerplant, a 2.0-litre MPI naturally aspirated four-cylinder that chucks out 110kW and 179Nm. This is paired to a six-speed torque converter automatic and, thanks to its use of the efficiency-biased Atkinson combustion cycle, should boasts impressive fuel consumption.
The second engine announced for the Kona is again a familiar addition, the 1.6-litre T-GDI turbocharged four-cylinder with 130kW and 265Nm - the same found in the Veloster and Elantra SR, albeit down-tuned from 150kW. This means a brisk 7.7 seconds to reach 100km/h from standstill.
There is a third option, though, but it might only be reserved for markets in Europe - a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor that outputs 88kW and 172Nm. That should be prove to a popular choice for urban dwellers given its early (and high) torque delivery and downsized fuel efficiency gains.
While the larger turbo engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch, the smaller one is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission, underlining its positioning as an entry level package. Now, there will be a diesel option as well but Hyundai chose not to disclose the same information they did with the petrols. That said, we do know it will reach the Europeans, just perhaps not anywhere else.
The Kona does look sporty with an exterior covered, pretty much, from nose to tail with rather aggressive looking styling cues, wide stance, rather low roofline, and large alloys. Hyundai, though, promises an engaging drive with an aluminium and high strength steel architecture that’s designed to be rigid and lightweight. Add to that the suspension setup that features dual-arm multi-link suspension (4WD only), and we might be looking at quite a fun little Hyundai.
More expensive variants will receive quite a comprehensive list of active safety features too, such as camera- and radar-based Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Keep Assist, High Beam Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
On the surface, it seems that Australia would be a market ripe for such a vehicle from Hyundai, to which their local arm agrees. However, recent reports have indicated that HMCA may be mulling a very similar model for introduction instead. It's also possible that the Kona, in limited variants, will make landfall before Q4 2017 - likely omitting the diesel engine and a potential hybrid (similar to the IONIQ) and eventual EV.