Cars > Peek

The Kona, now Hyundai’s smallest crossover SUV

The brand wants a big piece of the B-segment pie

What's in a name? 'Kona' is taken from the 'idyllic west-coast region' of Hawaii. PHOTO FROM HYUNDAI

The subcompact crossover SUV segment—which industry insiders refer to as the B-segment—is now truly the most competitive class in all of the auto industry. Car buyers around the world are gravitating to this vehicle type due to its practical size, versatile packaging and sporty styling. Even Suzuki had to downsize the Vitara to make it compete in this group.

Well, South Korea has a new entrant into the segment: the Hyundai Kona, which the automaker says is based on an all-new CUV (crossover utility vehicle) platform. It is now officially the company’s smallest SUV.

There are enough character lines here that should easily distinguish the Kona from its SUV siblings. PHOTOS FROM HYUNDAI

Hyundai describes the body styling of the Kona as “urban smart armor,” which we presume to mean this car is aimed at fashionable city dwellers who have an active lifestyle. We just hope these urbanites can look past those polarizing headlights.

Two of the selling points of this vehicle are its “extroverted color options” and LED lighting. The colors in question are—at least in the US market, where it’s being displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show—Chalk White, Ultra Black, Sonic Silver, Thunder Gray, Pulse Red, Surf Blue and Lime Twist. Which tells us Hyundai’s product personnel named these paint jobs while intoxicating themselves at a bar. Also, the product specialists want us to know that this small crossover sports LED headlights and LED daytime running lights. To better announce one’s arrival at watering holes.

The Kona is a handsome crossover, especially from the side and the back. PHOTOS FROM HYUNDAI

Prior to the Kona’s appearance, Hyundai’s smallest crossover SUV was the Creta. Here are the dimensions of the brand’s SUV lineup measured from bumper to bumper:

  • Grand Santa Fe – 4,905mm
  • Santa Fe – 4,700mm
  • Tucson – 4,475mm
  • Creta – 4,270mm
  • Kona – 4,166mm

Note that in the US market, the Grand Santa Fe is simply called Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe is designated as Santa Fe Sport.

In the US market, the Kona is powered by a pair of gasoline engines. Diesel should be available in other markets. PHOTO FROM HYUNDAI

Two petrol engine options are being offered in the US: the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder Atkinson (147hp; 179Nm) and the limited 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo Gamma (175hp; 264Nm). The standard gearbox is a six-speed automatic transmission with Hyundai’s Shiftronic manual mode, while the one for the Gamma powerplant is a seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission.

Only active, fun-loving individuals should be allowed to buy the Kona. Seriously. PHOTOS FROM HYUNDAI

If you think the Kona’s exterior design is suave, you have to see the interior. We particularly like the youthful color accents. Everything about the cabin—including the “floating” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities—looks so dynamic that you’d feel like a loser if you didn’t take this car to a place of adventure every weekend.

Your bicycle will fit here. So will your suitcase of heartaches that exist because you have long been out of shape. PHOTOS FROM HYUNDAI

The name “Kona,” according to Hyundai, is derived from “the idyllic west-coast region of the Big Island of Hawaii.” Which explains why we’ve been visualizing Hawaiian shirts and wakeboards while writing this. Let’s hope this crossover can surf its way to our shores.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.