Since the launch of the Sante Fe way back in 2001, Hyundai’s SUV wing has been steadily snowballing over here in Europe. The original off-road trailblazer from the Asian marque, now in its third generation, has since been joined on the European roster by the dinkier Tucson. Both have sold in their droves over the years but neither realistically quench the growing public thirst for ever-more pocket-sized crossovers. Prompted into action by the meteoric rise of the mini-SUV, Hyundai have this month thrown the covers off an all-new model; introducing the 2017 Hyundai Kona.
The third and smallest branch of the Hyundai SUV family tree sports what is the most innovative interpretation yet of the Korean marque’s family face. The cascading front grille features a new, mesh pattern, with lower air intakes and twin headlamps and LED inserts set off to either side.
Roof bars sit atop the heavily arching roof, whose two-tone design complements the ten selectable exterior colour schemes. 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels provide a smarter alternative to the standard-issue 16” steels variants, whilst at the rear, the lower portion is wrapped in grey cladding with integrated indicator and reversing lights. Skinny LED tail lamps as well as a spoiler-mounted brake light cluster cap the distinctive rear light signature.
Sub-compact SUVs of this ilk are generally characterised by their coupé-like exterior styling, whilst possessing the roominess and all-round versatility of a classic SUV on the inside. The Kona follows suit, with generous front and rear legroom, more than competitive for its sector, plus 361 litres worth of luggage space in the boot. Three base colour options dominate the interior; orange, lime and red, with each featuring matching coloured stitching on the 8-way electrically adjustable seats and optional heated steering wheel.
The most eye-catching piece of interior gadgetry comes in the form of the Kona’s eight-inch head-up display. Admittedly optional on the Kona, this premium-grade ‘floating’ screen integrates all navigation, media and smartphone connectivity functions and beams the relevant data directly yet unobtrusively into the driver’s line of sight. On the subject of smartphones, Apple Car Play and Android Auto both join the tech roster alongside yet another high-end gizmo in the form an optional wireless charging pad.
Hyundai is aiming to refresh its entire range – to the tune of 30 new models no less – before 2022. Hand in hand with this ambitious initiative goes the introduction of a whole new generation of super-efficient diesel powertrains. The Kona will be one of the first models in the Hyundai stable to benefit by the time the new units leave the factory next summer. In the meantime, the newly released mini-SUV relies on petrol power alone. The two turbocharged powertrains in question are the compact 1.0-litre T-GDI and the more powerful 1.6-litre unit. The former is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox and produces 118bhp, enough to propel the more fuel-efficient Kona variant from 0-62 mph in 12.0 seconds. The latter, 175bhp petrol version, has 195lb/ft of torque at its disposal and hits the 62 mark from a standing start in a snip under 8 seconds. With a snappy 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox on-board and four-wheel drive as standard, the gutsier Kona red-lines at 172mph.
Expect the usual panoply of safety systems as standard for the Kona SUV, including Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist and Blind Spot Detection.
Hyundai is set to announce full pricing lists and more details on specification in the coming weeks. The all-new Kona should show its face for the first time in UK showrooms this Autumn.