Hyundai Shows New Kona

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Just when you thought it was impossible for Hyundai illumination to get any thinner, along comes the new Kona. Unveiled today in Korea, this subcompact crossover will seek to build upon the successes of its predecessor – a model which sold over 90,000 units in America even during the topsy-turvy 2021 calendar year. 

If you’re wondering, that performance puts it ahead of the Palisade (86.5k) that same year and not too far adrift of the popular Santa Fe (112k). The right-sized Tucson remained king in 2021 with a hair under 151,000 units find homes that year. But we digress.

Back to the new Kona. Even though this is a reveal in Seoul and not Alabama, one can take many inferences about what the vehicle will look like when it appears in our market. It will be available in four variants, including all-electric (EV), hybrid electric (HEV), internal combustion engine (ICE), and sporty N Line, with a universal architecture for all and styling tweaks for each. Given the popularity of all four around these parts, expect that quartet to appear on our shores – even if the rollout is performed in stages.

Hyundai says this Kona started with a design for the EV variant which was then adapted for the other models. This can be construed as an inverse of the norms. The new model has grown to 171.5 inches in length, nearly six inches longer than today’s car based on the EV variant. It also gained about an inch of width and 2.4 inches in wheelbase compared to last year’s car. That can’t-miss-it front illumination is apparently called a Seamless Horizon Lamp which will be pixelated on the EV so yer neighbors know you’ve sprung for the all-electric, plus give it a connection to those pixels found on the IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6.

Mum’s the word on powertrain details but we can look to today’s lineup for clues. Pedestrian Kona models get a 2.0-liter four-banger making 147 horsepower while N Line trims are the recipient of a 1.6L turbo with 195 ponies and backed by a dual-clutch transmission. The Kona Electric utilizes a 201 hp electric motor paired with a 64 kWh battery, and hybrid variants of the Kona don’t exist in this market. It’s the latter note which is causing most people to hedge their bets as to if Hyundai will bring that powertrain to the American market with the new car.

The brand describes this new Kona’s interior as ‘EV-derived’ and it is indeed easy to draw parallels with the IONIQ 5’s minimalist interior. According to the PR bumf, there will be dual 12.3-inch displays plus a floating module and a raft of ambient lighting. Sounds like the IONIQ 5 to us. Also reminiscent – at least in the Korean-market model shown today – is a column-type shift-by-wire gear lever, presumably one which users need to twist like a candy cane to call upon forward or reverse motion.

More details of the next Hyundai Kona will be unveiled in the coming months.

[Images: Hyundai]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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2 of 26 comments
  • RHD RHD on Dec 21, 2022

    One thing that H/K is doing here is to make everything else on the road look like yesterday's news. It's as if they are designing the 2030 Hyundai and releasing it seven years early.

  • Gabe Gabe on Dec 25, 2022

    I want to like the current Kona, especially the N, but from the rear wheels around the back I just don't understand what is going on.

  • Mike What percentage of people who buy plug in hybrids stop charging them daily after a few months? Also, what portion of the phev sales are due to the fact that the incentives made them a cheaper lease than the gas only model? (Im thinking of the wrangler 4xe). I wish there was a way to dig into the numbers deeper.
  • CEastwood If it wasn't for the senior property tax freeze in NJ I might complain about this raising my property taxes since most of that tax goes to the schools . I'm not totally against EVs , but since I don't drive huge miles and like to maintain my own vehicles they are not practical especially since I keep a new vehicle long term and nobody has of yet run into the cost of replacing the battery on an EV .
  • Aquaticko Problem with PHEV is that, like EVs, they still require a behavioral change over ICE/HEV cars to be worth their expense and abate emissions (whichever is your goal). Studies in the past have shown that a lot of PHEV drivers don't regularly plug-in, meaning they're just less-efficient HEVs.I'm left to wonder how big a battery a regular HEV could have without needing to be a PHEV.
  • El scotto ooops, the third shot is at the gas pump voice-over saying "Yep, you can refill whenever you want."
  • El scotto The opening shot of the ad: Show a PHEV running a quarter mile, in about seven seconds and silently with the voice-over saying "What you want to do, all on electrons"; segue to bumper-to-bumper traffic and the voice-over saying "What you really do; all on electrons for your first 80 miles".