By on July 19, 2018

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]

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