With its all-new platform, extensive use of advanced high-strength steel and various Hyundai-first technologies, the 2018MY Kona enters the burgeoning small CUV segment.
“This segment is predicted to gain 16 percent between 2019 and 2024 based on IHS [Markit] forecasting. That’s quite a bit of growth, so this is where the action is,” said Michael O’Brien, Vice President of Product, Corporate and Digital Planning for Hyundai Motor America.
Assembled in Ulsan, South Korea, Hyundai’s first B-segment crossover for the U.S. market joins a growing list of small CUVs, including the Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3, and Ford EcoSport.
“We’re essentially middle-of-the-pack in this segment for almost every exterior dimension—width [70.9 in/1800 mm], height [61 in/1549 mm], and wheelbase [102.4 in/2600 mm],” O’Brien said. He added that even though 5-door Kona is shorter in overall length (164 in/4165 mm) than most of its competitors, its interior package is “very, very competitive.”
O’Brien and other Hyundai product experts spoke with Automotive Engineering during the vehicle’s recent media launch program in (appropriately) Kona, Hawaii.
Hyundai engineers maximized cabin space by minimizing the center tunnel intrusion into the cabin. That cabin-first approach carried over to the underfloor layout, which integrates an optional all-wheel drive system.
AWD models use an independent, dual-arm multi-link suspension design, while front-drive versions employ a torsion beam design. The front suspension is comprised of McPherson struts, gas-filled shock absorbers and a hollow stabilizer bar.
Fifty-two percent of Kona’s unibody is in hot-stamped advanced high strength steel (AHSS). The structure employs AHSS primarily for impact absorption and reinforced occupant protection.
“We have the advantage of being able to have custom blends of steel that have different properties for the various parts of our vehicles,” O’Brien said, referring to Hyundai being the only global automotive OEM producing its own steel.
Kona’s 375 feet (114 m) of structural adhesives exceed the 330 feet (100.5 m) used on the Hyundai Tucson. “The extensive use of the catalyzed adhesives and the various grades of AHSS allow us to get an ideal combination of properties for the body shell,” said O’Brien. He explained that the torsionally-rigid chassis helps deliver improved ride quality.
In a claimed Hyundai-first, the new Kona has an available head-up display that is separate from the windshield. A lower dash button activates the pop-up 8.0-in full-color HUD with 10,000 nits (a unit of brightness). In comparison, the Mazda CX-3 features a horizontal-fold 3.2-in HUD with 3,000 nits. Kona also features a Hyundai-first via the rear-view camera.
“We’ve taken a technology that’s common on [handheld] cameras and applied it to the vehicle’s rear-view camera lens,” O’Brien said about a coating that’s intended to prevent water droplets and dirt from adhering to the glass surface of the lens.
Hyundai claims the Kona’s wireless charging deck for smartphones is a first for the CUV segment. This center console charging interface is compatible with Android and Apple Qi-enabled devices.
Kona is offered in four trims (SE, SEL, Limited, and Ultimate) and is available in the U.S. with choice of two engines. From Hyundai’s ‘Nu’ gasoline engine family is a 2.0-L 4-cylinder Atkinson engine delivering a claimed 147 hp (110 kW) at 6200 rpm and 132 lb·ft (179 N·m) at 4500. The 2.0-L mates with a Hyundai-engineered 6-speed automatic transmission. Curb weight of the 2.0-L version is 2,844–3,049 lb (1,290–1,383 kg), depending on driveline and options.
A Gamma 1.6-L turbocharged 4-cylinder generates a claimed 175 hp (130 kW) at 5500 rpm and 195 lb·ft at 1500-4500 rpm; it is paired with Hyundai’s 7-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission. Hyundai’s turbocharged 1.0-L from the Kappa engine family and 1.6-L U2 turbodiesel are also available for various global markets. A battery-electric version with a claimed 200- to 250-mile (321 to 402-km) driving range is expected to be released in Korea later this year.
U.S. retail base MSRP of the Kona SE is $19,500.
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