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Hyundai Motor plays catch up with new subcompact SUV

Hyundai Motor plays catch up with new subcompact SUV

Perhaps of more significant than the fresh style of the 2018 Hyundai Kona is the subcompact's all-new architecture.

Hyundai Motor Co Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun said on Tuesday the South Korean firm has no plan to buy other automakers, although it will beef up cooperation with other technology firms. With crossovers commanding an ever-larger slice of customer dollars across the entire industry, it was only a matter of time before Hyundai added a smaller, more lifestyle-oriented option to its popular line-up of SUVs, which now includes the Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Sport, and the Tucson.

Sales will begin in Korea this summer, but don't expect the Hyundai Kona to come to the USA until early 2018, with pricing and equipment details likely coming by the end of 2017.

It's likely that Hyundai's European and United Kingdom divisions would consider selling a smaller SUV; however, an even bigger vehicle than the Santa Fe would probably be restricted to markets like North America.

The subcompact SUV market snowballed by almost 10 times from 2010 to 2016, Hyundai said, citing data from IHS Automotive. Front-drive models get a simple torsion beam architecture, while all-wheel drive versions receive multilink array. This theme continues at the back of the crossover, with a pair of thin horizontal taillights high above separate turn signal housings. There are also rumors of an all-electric Kona with 217 miles of range, which is said to be coming in late 2018. Despite its compact dimensions and sleek roofline, Hyundai claimed the Kona has the best-in-class interior space.




The Kona will offer two four-cylinder powertrains in the USA, both of which are used throughout Hyundai and Kia's lineup. The Gamma 1.6T-GDI engine boasts 177PS, a 0-100km/h time of 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 210km/h. It will make 175 hp and 132 pounds-feet of torque, enough for a 7.7-second 0-to-62 miles per hour run. The models are fitted with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, Hyundai said.

Different rear suspension systems have been developed for both 2WD and 4WD, to deliver a comfortable ride and sporty handling with either drive train. All variants will have three drive modes, Sport, Normal and Eco. On the infotainment side, the Kona will come wired for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, displayed onto a 5-, 7-, or 8-inch screen.

When the Kona goes on sale in the USA next year it will join one of the fastest-growing and crucial segments in the industry. Working against the diesel is its low uptake in the compact SUV class; Mazda's oil-burning CX-3 only accounts for three percent of sales of the popular soft-roader. Look further forward and an even more powerful Kona N model isn't out of the question. Last year there were 13,512 compact SUVs sold for a 9 per cent share of the total market, but this year this share has jumped to 11 per cent via 6866 sales to the end of May.

Almost every major automaker sells a subcompact crossover, though there are some late arrivals.

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