Nerd Alert! Hyundai Debuts Kona 'Iron Man Edition' at Comic-Con

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

On Thursday, Hyundai unveiled a special edition of its Kona crossover on the opening day of the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con. Revealed at the Marvel booth, the Kona “Iron Man Edition” features a bevy of design elements that either resemble or tip their hat to the famous comic book icon. All told, it’s probably one of the most comprehensive example of cross promotion in recent history.

How desirable it is will be highly dependent on the person you’re asking, however.

I’m going to acknowledge my prejudice against these types of vehicles upfront. While I’m all for wild paint jobs and tasteless accessories, there’s something about this kind of cross-branding that chaps my posterior. It isn’t just that automobiles are supposed to be purchased by adults (we already know that they’re ravenous consumers of things they recognize from their childhood). It’s the half-hearted effort that’s typically placed behind them.

Brace yourselves. I adore the Plymouth Road Runner and can stomach the association with the lighting-fast cartoon bird that serves as its namesake, since it supposed to be emblematic of the model’s performance. But I hate the Pontiac GTO Judge because the Laugh-In was tacked on and had absolutely nothing to do with the vehicle’s character. It’s a great name for a muscle car, but the association is with a comedy sketch that was ripped off from another comedian.

Nissan produced a storm-trooper inspired Rogue that I despised, but I can at least acknowledge the company made an attempt to place the applicable badges wherever there was room and made them color appropriate. I don’t even know if automobiles exist in the Star Wars universe; they certainly haven’t appeared in any of the films. But the marketing gimmick was at least sufficient to excite franchise fanatics before the population grew bored with it.

But how much does this Kona have to do with Iron Man? Isn’t his armor gold and red?

Quite a bit, actually. The Marvel branding is incredibly prevalent on this crossover. The wheels have the Iron Man mask on center caps and there is some engraving on the D-pillars and inside the headlamps. There are also subtle “Stark Industries” decals on lower fascia and rear door. The most obvious touches are a giant logo on the roof and a red hood finisher with the Marvel logo that’s easily visible to the driver, who is likely to be the only person impressed with someone owning a vehicle themed after a comic book character.

The red paint is also said to be based on the actual color used by Tony Stark (that’s Iron Man) on his armor. We can’t tell you where the matte gray color comes from, though.

On the inside, Tony Stark’s signature adorns the instrument panel alongside a unique Iron Man shift lever knob. There’s also a special head-up display and center stack featuring Iron Man visual graphics, plus a custom seat design. Basically, sitting inside this thing is just like wearing the suit yourself, according to the marketing team.

“Seeing this car come to life is like wish fulfillment for so many of us,” said Mindy Hamilton, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships & Marketing. “When you grow up reading comics, you dream of seeing that technology and those inventions become reality. We hope that everyone has just as much fun jumping into this one-of-a-kind vehicle as they would putting on the actual Iron Man suit of armor!”

Promotional gurgling noises notwithstanding, Hyundai actually did a pretty good job making the Kona representative of the fictional hero. It assuredly isn’t for someone like me, but if you are a die-hard fan of comic books, I suppose this is the best you could have realistically hoped for.

[Images: Hyundai]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Dartdude Having the queen of nothing as the head of Dodge is a recipe for disaster. She hasn't done anything with Chrysler for 4 years, May as well fold up Chrysler and Dodge.
  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
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