Kona an extra-strong styling brew

You thought the Toyota C-HR was outrageously-styled? Wait until you see the Hyundai Kona.


THE aggressive styling theme that spans all latest compact crossovers has also transferred to Hyundai’s pitch into that growing segment, the Kona.

Globally unveiled in Seoul today, and expected to come to New Zealand around September with the choice of two engines and – as is the category fashion – a high level of specification and in front-drive as well as four-wheel-drive, the model unsurprisingly is driven by the same styling-led ethos that fuels the Mazda CX-3, Toyota’s C-HR, the Honda HR-V and the Mitsubishi ASX.

Hyundai New Zealand has yet to offer comment on the car’s pricing, but previous indications from the parent brand is that while it places under the Tucson in respect to size and market position, there is potential that the most expensive versions might invade into Tucson territory.

And yes, it seems the Kona will come in force. If Hyundai NZ adopts the same strategy as Australia then we can expect to see it in three trim levels with two petrol engine choices.

The entry car has a 2.0-litre MPI engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox while mid- and high-spec grades take a 1.6T-GDI turbocharged engine driving all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The model also takes a comprehensive suite of active safety features, including Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), available across the range, while the flagship car has a head-up display.

Describing Kona as a car for millennial customers “who pursue challenging, action-filled lifestyles,” Hyundai has promised that its daring styling hints at the future design direction of its next generation of SUV models.

The brand says Kona stands out from the crowd with high contrast design elements and striking style; notable highlights being the slimline ‘composite lamps’ with daytime running lights that incorporate turn signals positioned in a ‘stack’, separate to the LED headlights.

The car also displays the new family identity, the Cascading Grille, featuring a sporty mesh pattern.

In addition to the instantly recognizable shape, a number of what Hyundai calls “playful colour variations” allow buyers to customise. The roof is finished with a two-tone colour scheme, providing high contrast between the body and wheels – satisfying customers with a desire to express their individuality, the brand believes.

The unique features of the exterior continue inside, with everything designed around the AVN (Audio, Visual, Navigation) monitor, which appears to float on the dashboard and features the brand’s advanced infotainment features.

Hyundai says an all-new compact platform has been developed to provide customers with a true SUV experience. “SUV-level ground clearance and an elevated seating position ensure better visibility for drivers and increases comfort on long journeys.” 

It says Kona offers occupants generous interior space by optimising the underfloor layout, including the 4WD drivetrain and exhaust system, to reduce central tunnel intrusion. The suspension component layout is optimized at the rear, allowing for a lower floor and seating position to deliver class-leading levels of headroom and ease of access for rear occupants. 

The split-folding rear seats fold flat, with a two-level loading floor that allows easy access for a bicycle or golf club storage. 

The 2.0-litre entry engine produces 110kW and 179Nm. Hyundai cites a 0-100kmh time of 10 seconds and a top speed of 194kmh.

The Gamma 1.6T-GDI engine boasts 130kW/ 265Nm, a 0-100kmh time of 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 210kmh.

In addition to the 1.6T-GDI engine, customers in Europe can also opt for Hyundai’s downsized 88kW/172Nm 1.0 T-GDI turbocharged three-cylinder engine with six-speed manual transmission and a 1.6 diesel.

The chassis is engineered to be rigid, topped with a lightweight body for dynamic driving performance and a comfortable ride, Hyundai claims. “The platform is optimised to permit SUV levels of ground clearance, while the optional 4WD system and drivetrain is intelligently packaged to offer a spacious interior despite its compact proportions.”

The front suspension features a McPherson strut system, receiving a new sub-frame bush mounting and best-in-class tire trace to enhance comfort and reduce NVH. The system incorporates SUV geometry for refined body movement on rough roads or harsh off-road terrain. 

Different rear suspension systems have been developed for both two- and four-wheel-drive, to deliver a comfortable ride and sporty handling with either drivetrain.

At the front, the rear subframe receives new bush structure for the front-drive suspension set-up, with a high-stiffness torsion beam for greater stability and control. The 4WD configuration features a dual-arm multi-link suspension system to refine overall driving dynamics on all surface types.

Hyundai says the Kona was developed with a focus on enhanced driving dynamics and responsive performance for city driving. “The wide, long wheelbase and short overhangs create a planted stance that results in exceptional agility in busy urban environments and enhanced stability when driving at speed.”

The three differentiated driving modes (Sports, Normal and Eco) optimise the torque distribution and gear-shift settings to suit all driving style requirements, the information pack says. In Sport mode, there is a greater emphasis on acceleration with early downshift on braking, while Eco mode optimises fuel economy over performance with longer gear ratios.

Active safety features include Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), which uses the car’s front-facing camera and radar to detect imminent collision and avoid impact or minimize damage by braking autonomously. Three further systems also utilize the front-view camera to boost safety and convenience: Lane Keeping Assist (LKA); High Beam Assist (HBA); and Driver Attention Warning (DAW).

By sensing road markings, Lane Keep Assist helps to prevent accidental lane departure by steering the car automatically if required. High Beam Assist automatically controls the high beams depending on surroundings, while the Driver Attention Warning system monitors a spectrum of driver-related characteristics to detect driver fatigue or careless driving. 

The car’s radar systems also assist with the Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) to detect approaching vehicles that may be obscured from view during high speed driving. The Rear Cross-Traffic Collison Warning (RCCW) detects when another vehicle may have entered the car’s reversing path.

The Kona boasts a suite of sophisticated technologies, paired with user-friendly functionality to ensure driver and passengers can stay informed and entertained. The premium infotainment system offers various advanced connectivity features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with a 5-, 7- or 8-inch display (offered as standard or option dependent on market). Surprisingly, a rear view camera display is listed as an option.

Kona has a head-up display projecting a virtual image onto the clear glass panel mounted behind the instrument panel to enable the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road.

In a first for the segment, the Kona features smartphone wireless charging. Available as an option with all Kona models, customers simply place a compatible smartphone on the wireless charging interface, located in the centre console storage, to easily recharge without the need for cables.

In showing off Kona, Hyundai has unveiled a special ‘Iron Man’ edition, a tribute not to the famous annual race in Hawaii but the Marvel comic hero.