Hyundai plays catch-up with new subcompact SUV

Kona cabin

With crossovers commanding an ever-larger slice of customer dollars across the entire industry, it was only a matter of time before Hyundai added a smaller, more lifestyle-oriented option to its popular line-up of SUVs, which now includes the Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Sport, and the Tucson.

The reality of how entertaining the little SUV will be to drive is still up for discussion, but you can't deny that Hyundai's increasingly staid design language has been given a thorough going over, instilling the Kona with distinctive, if not necessarily attractive sheet metal.

However, it is too early to speculate whether Hyundai will being the Kona compact SUV to India. The first is a 1.0-litre unit linked to a six-speed manual transmission, while the second is a larger 1.6-litre turbocharged engine driven through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

Chung said the planned Kona EV was part of the company's focus on alternate-fuelled vehicles.

The model is offered in six different trims, priced between 18.95 million won and 27 million won. The Kona will give the South Korean brand a competitor to the Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota C-HR, to name a few.

Hyundai aims to export a combined 41,000 units of the Kona to the two major markets this year and 150,000 units next year. Last year there were 13,512 compact SUVs sold for a 9 per cent share of the total market, but this year this share has jumped to 11 per cent via 6866 sales to the end of May. Kona's turbocharged gasoline engine model has a mileage of 12.8 kilometers (7.95 miles) per liter and the diesel engine model 16.8 kilometers (10.4 miles) per liter.


There should also be a 1.6 litre diesel later on 2018, but that probably depends on the ongoing diesel fallout.

Hyundai and Kia in January said they aimed to increase global sales by 5 per cent this year, but their combined sales fell 7 per cent over January to May, hit by slowing Chinese and USA sales. This year, the segment's annual growth rate is expected to be 19%.

"Our sales plan has suffered a setback, but we will use this as an opportunity to overhaul our products", said Chung, the only son of Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo. "We have analysed the needs of our customers in Los Angeles and other cosmopolitan cities", Chung said.

Due for release in late September in Australia, and with new models imminent for the Honda and Subaru offerings, Hyundai has today lifted the covers off a vehicle it says will offer advanced technology and class-leading safety features, and set new standards for the segment.

The latest small SUV marks Hyundai Motor's first small-size vehicle rolled out in 15 years since the discontinuation of the Hyundai Atos compact auto in 2002.

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