Hyundai Motor plays catch up with new subcompact SUV

Hyundai Motor plays catch up with new subcompact SUV

Named after a district on the Big Island Hawaii famous for coffee, Kona is created to stand apart from the automaker's larger SUV models Tucson and Santa Fe.

Instead of "hurriedly" launching new compact SUV models in the markets, Hyundai completed a thorough market analysis and used the "optimal" technologies in the Kona, he stressed. If it comes to the shore, Kona will sit between the cross-hatch i20 Active and premium SUV Creta in Hyundai Motor India's portfolio, and will take on the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and the Ford EcoSport directly.

Hyundai has unveiled its latest compact SUV - the Kona.

When it does arrive in New Zealand, there will be two petrol models - a 2WD version powered by a 111kW/179Nm Atkinson Cycle multi-point injected engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and an AWD version powered by a 132kW/265Nm direct injected and turbocharged engine paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

Fuel cell electric vehicle and electric vehicle versions of Kona that can run 390 kilometers on a full charge will be released by 2018, the company said. 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 hasn't priced the Kona or announced an on-sale date in the USA, but a showroom appointment for late 2017 and a sub-$20,000 base price seem like safe bets.

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Kona models equipped with a 1.0 gasoline turbo GDi engine and 1.6 gasoline turbo GDi engine will be available in Europe. Domestically, it targets to sell more than 26,000 Konas this year and 45,000 units next year. This year, the segment's annual growth rate is expected to be 19%.

Also available will be a 1.6 diesel engine for select markets, including Europe.

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 US sales. The US safety regulator has launched a probe into whether Hyundai and Kia recalled 1.7 million vehicles in a timely manner.

"We will launch electric vehicle Kona EV model by next year", said Chung.

"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.

Hyundai are clearly looking for a less traditional buyer than its current buyer demographic with the Kona, and its bold styling and funky feel should certainly appeal to younger buyers. The compact SUV also adopts Hyundai Motor's new family identity, the Cascading Grille, featuring a sporty mesh pattern, flanked by exceptional wing-type fenders that dominate the front design.

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