Kona adds ‘quirky’ to line-up

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Motoring -

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.

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