Hyundai really wants you to notice the Kona, the newest and smallest member of its growing crossover and SUV lineup. Named after a district on Hawaii’s big island, the Kona wears a much bolder design than any Hyundai in recent memory.
Up front, the only styling cue the Kona shares with recent additions to the company’s portfolio — like the Elantra GT — is its grille. The daytime running lights are positioned right below the hood, while the headlights are located further down on the front fascia. They’re surrounded by a rugged-looking piece of plastic trim that also wraps around the front wheel arches. We’d believe Hyundai if it said the Kona was parachuted to Earth from a neon purple flying saucer hovering around Area 51.
The rear end echoes the front with long, thin lights and wrap-around wheel arches. The license plate insert is shaped like the grille, which gives the Kona a symmetrical design that stands out from the crowd. Some will love it, and others will hate it, but at least it’s not boring, nor a scaled-down copy of a bigger crossover. Kudos for doing something original, Hyundai.
The concept car-like sheet metal hides a brand-new platform. Front-wheel drive is the default configuration, and four-wheel drive is offered at an extra cost. Hyundai points out its engineers managed to integrate the four-wheel drive system into the car without sacrificing interior space, but pictures of the cabin haven’t been published yet.
Similarly, engine options for the United States remain unconfirmed. If we had to speculate, we’d say the Kona will be offered with the company’s ubiquitous 177-horsepower, 1.6-liter turbo four. A less powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder might also join the lineup as an entry-level offering. Overseas markets will get a three-cylinder and a turbodiesel, but neither engine will reach our shores.
The 2018 Hyundai Kona will go on sale in South Korea, its home market, before the end of the month. Michael Stewart, Hyundai’s senior manager of corporate and marketing PR, told Digital Trends the crossover will arrive in the United States in the spring of next year. Look for a pricing announcement — and full technical details for the U.S.-spec car — in the coming months. Its rivals include the equally outer space-esque Nissan Juke, the Honda HR-V, and the Toyota C-HR.
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