Hyundai’s Kona joins the compact cross party

Hyundai Kona Singapore Price2
Hyundai’s funky new crossover slated for a 2018 Singapore Motorshow debut

SEOUL, KOREA – This is the new Hyundai Kona, a small Sport Utility Vehicle destined for Singapore that aims to cash in big on the funky, urban crossover trend that propelled the Honda HR-V and Toyota CH-R firmly to the mainstream.

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The Kona certainly looks the part. In addition to a myriad of eye-popping colours, the car also features a “floating” roof, “composite” headlights, contrasting body cladding (which Hyundai refers to as “armour”) and a Cascading Grille which will eventually adorn the faces of the rest of the brand’s lineup. The rear end gets a similar treatment as the front – a slim strip of LED tailights sits proud of the brake, indicator and reverse light cluster.

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In contrast to the striking exterior, the interior is lot more subdued. It’s all conservative and simple, with the task of perking up the cabin left to a few body-coloured trim inserts. Taking pride of place is a freestanding infotainment screen that allows for a lower, more open-feeling dashboard, and below that are the aircon controls, operated by a row of honest-to-goodness buttons. With the trend of many cars these days choosing to digitise even the climate controls, we think this is a very sensible move that keeps the ergonomics fuss-free.

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At 4,165mm long, with a 2,600mm wheelbase, it’s a few mm off the size of the Honda HR-V, although it’ll also be a likely competitor for everything from the Nissan Juke to the DS 3 Crossback – that styling looks almost French, we think. What’s clever about this all-new platform is the sandwich floor design, that isolates the mechanical components underneath the car and frees up interior and boot space, the latter measured at 361-litres expandable to 1,143-litres.

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The new platform boasts the usual modern platform pluses, less weight, more strength achieved by hi-tensile steel plus advanced adhesives. A long list of new safety features populate the list, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Alert, Static Bending Light and Smart High Beam, though their presence on local units is cost dependent.

A range of engines will power the Kona, starting with a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder with 120bhp, followed by a 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle engine that promises 149bhp and great fuel economy. Topping the range (at least until an N performance version comes along) is a 1.6-litre turbo engine with 177bhp (as seen in the current Tucson) and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

The Category A COE-friendly three-cylinder would have been a good bet for Singapore, but it’s only available with a six-speed manual at the moment, which would make it unsellable here. The word we’re hearing is that the 1.6-litre turbo is the likeliest versions forSingapore, which would make the car Cat B only but would give buyers a seven-speed, twin-clutch auto.

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Internationally, Hyundai will be offering a heads-up display for the Kona. Infotainment choice is led by an 8.0-inch system. A less expensive option is the new Display Audio system with a 7.0-inch screen that has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity – we expect it to be similar to the system seen in recent Kias like the Sportage GT Line.

Hyundai has always named its SUVs with the implication of rugged, hostile environments: Santa Fe, New Mexico and Tucson, Arizona, for the existing cars in the model range. For its smallest crossover though, Hyundai’s Kona is named after a district on the Big Island of Hawaii, so think fun and vibrant instead of rough and tumble.

Can’t wait to check out this stylish lifestyle vehicle in the flesh? We hear that it’ll make its debut at the 2018 Singapore Motorshow.

about the author

Jon Lim
CarBuyer's latest addition is its fourth historical Jonathan. Old-fashioned in all but body, he thinks car design peaked in the '90s. He also strongly believes any car can be a race car if you have a sufficient lack of self-preservation, which explains why he nearly flipped a Chinese van while racing it.