Kona adds ‘quirky’ to line-up
After one of the shortest model gestation periods in the company’s history, Hyundai has officially unveiled its first global small SUV challenger, the Kona, at an outdoor event in Seoul, ahead of its Australian showroom debut in September.
The five-door Kona’s development was fast-tracked in response to the rapid growth of the sector in key markets such as the United States, Europe and the Asia-pacific region, including Korea and Australia.
Hyundai offers a B-segment SUV in China and India called the Creta, but it was not designed to meet the stringent safety requirements of western markets.
Hyundai Motor Company Australia chief executive Scott Grant said Kona could not come soon enough.
“We expect this brilliant addition to the Hyundai SUV range to be at or near the top of its class for capability and desirability, not just for price and value; though we’ll definitely get that last part right too,” he said.
Mr Grant said research clinics in Australia revealed the relatively overt style of the Kona – one of the edgiest designs to come out of the brand’s Californian studios – was unlikely to play against it, despite the inherent conservatism of Australian buyers.
“It’s a vehicle that manages to be distinctive to look at, inside and out, but not so challenging that it turns people away,” he said.
“The Kona gives us a strong entry into a booming segment.
“Small SUVS are becoming more and more popular with Australian buyers as their needs and tastes change.
“We’re confident the Kona offers the right blend of great space on the inside, compact dimensions on the outside, the fun to drive factor and engaging features across the range.”
Hyundai Motor Company Australia public relations manager Bill Thomas said the Kona – which would join medium-sized Tucson and large Santa Fe SUVS – was set to attract buyers not currently served by the brand’s other offerings.
“They will be a different buyer to an i30 or Tucson customer,” he said.
“They see a higher driver position and the SUV image as a desirable thing, but the Tucson might be too big.
“They might also have a young family where a smaller, easier-to-park SUV suits their needs more closely than an i30 or Tucson.”
Mr Thomas said sales would add incremental growth to the company’s bottom line and would help to gain – and retain – customers who were looking exclusively for a small SUV.
Based on the underpinnings of the recently launched i30 hatch, the Kona will drop directly into a segment in the Australian market that is primed to explode.
Pricing has not yet been revealed, but Hyundai Motor Company Australia said it would offer ‘competitive pricing and superb value for money’ against key competitors including the Mazda CX-3, Toyota’s equally quirky C-HR, the Honda HR-V and the Mitsubishi ASX.
Hyundai has been left without a player in the sector since 2015, when it repositioned the ix35’s replacement, the slightly larger Tucson, to sit in the medium SUV category.
HOWZIT: The Kona gets its name from a volcanic stretch of Hawaii’s main island – and it’s set to blow up the small SUV segment when it launches in September.