A brand-new platform and a totally new styling direction make Kona more than just another nameplate in the Hyundai lineup.
Hyundai’s new Kona crossover might be small, but for its parent company, it’s a really big deal. Not only does it ride on a brand-new B-segment platform, the Kona previews a funky new styling direction for Hyundai’s entire utility vehicle lineup. It’s a good thing consumers have been warming to the oddball designs of SUVs like the Jeep Cherokee and Nissan Juke. The Kona certainly proves this styling trend isn’t going to die anytime soon.
Indeed, comparisons to the Cherokee, Juke, and even Toyota C-HR are warranted, though to our eyes, the Kona looks better than all of those. That’s especially true especially up front, where the Kona uses a split-light design. The top row of LED running lights incorporate the crossover’s turn signals, while the larger housings below hold the Kona’s LED headlights. Black cladding – Hyundai calls this the Kona’s “armour” – is present on the front and rear fascias, as well as the body sides. Around back, slim taillights are reminiscent of other recent Hyundai designs, though the turn signals and reverse lights are housed in a separate cluster closer to the bottom (weird). The Kona also gets a two-tone look, with a contrasting black roof, though you can also swap that out for white, or body-coloured options.
In Canada and the U.S., the Kona will use a pair of four-cylinder gas engines, mated to both front- and all-wheel drive configurations, and we’ve also heard future electrified models are on the way. On the base end, the Kona will have a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine, with 147 horsepower and 132 pound feet of torque. It’ll be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and Hyundai says this model will sprint from 0-100 kilometres per hour in 10 seconds, with a top speed of 193 km/h, though we aren’t sure if that acceleration time is with front- or all-wheel drive.
Hyundai says the Kona will deliver best-in-class interior space, with more headroom than any of its competitors.
A more powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged inline-four will also be on offer, with 175 hp, 195 lb-ft of torque, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Acceleration benefits are substantial, the turbo model running 0-100 km/h in 7.7 seconds, on its way to a 209 km/h top end (again, we don’t know if that’s with front- or all-wheel drive).
Kona buyers in Europe can also spec a 1.0-litre turbocharged inline-three with a six-speed manual transmission, producing 118 hp. In addition, Europe and other global markets will have a 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel option. Neither of these powertrains are expected to come to Canada or the U.S. as of this writing.
Depending on the drivetrain, the Kona can be fitted with two different rear suspensions. With front-wheel drive, there’s a torsion beam setup, but opting for all-wheel drive lands you a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension. We’re eager to feel the differences between these two designs when we get to drive the Kona in the near future.
Inside, Hyundai says the Kona will deliver best-in-class interior space, with more headroom than any of its competitors. The rear seats fold flat, and there’s a two-level load floor in the cargo bay. On the technology front, the Kona will come packed with all the latest and greatest features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, housed in a choice of five-, seven-, or eight-inch infotainment displays. Hyundai will also offer a new head-up display that projects graphics onto a dash-mounted glass panel – sort of like what Mazda does with the Mazda3.
The first Konas will hit the roads of Hyundai’s home market, South Korea, later this month, before going on sale globally.
Safety systems will be plentiful, as well. Though it’s unclear if these will be standard or optional, Hyundai will pack the Kona with blind spot warning, traffic collision warning (which detects when another car might impede the Kona’s reversing path), driver attention warning, high beam assist, lane keep assist, and more.
We aren’t far off from seeing the Kona on Canadian and U.S. roads – it’s scheduled to go on sale this year. In fact, the first Konas will hit the roads of Hyundai’s home market, South Korea, later this month. Furthermore, the Kona platform will lend itself to Hyundai’s sister company, Kia, to underpin its new Stonic CUV.
We’ll have a lot more news about the new Kona later this week, including live images and butt-in-seat impressions, so watch this space for more.
Live Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com