"Starting with KONA, we are planning to establish a full lineup of SUVs that cover A segment to E segment." said Vice-Chairman Chung. The more powerful engine can be chosen with front or four-wheel drive.
The Kona features a mean-looking mug integrating Hyundai's cascading grille design.
Plastic cladding throughout the bumpers and wheel arches gives the Kona a more outdoorsy look than what otherwise might be a decidedly downtown-oriented appearance. A large SUV that sits above the Tucson will follow to complete the marque's five-model SUV range. All-wheel drive is of course offered with the Kona, and it brings with it a more sophisticated rear suspension setup to smooth out the on-road experience.
"We have analysed the needs of our customers, and the SUV segment is reaching saturation", said Chung. The compact and mid-size SUV segment is one of the hottest out there, accounting for 35% of all USA auto and trucks sales in 2016.
Kona is 4165mm in length and 1800mm wide, with overall height of 1550mm. Despite its compact dimensions and sleek roofline, Hyundai claimed the Kona has the best-in-class interior space.
In the boot there is a dual-level floor designed for easy fitment of bulky items, such as bikes.
A 1.6-litre diesel engine is set to join the Kona line-up soon after launch, available with 113bhp and front-wheel drive with a manual gearbox, or 131bhp with a DCT gearbox. Hyundai Motor's incentive spending in the US jumped 51 percent to $3,166, according to researcher ALG. This engine will use a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Sales of SUVs continue at unprecedented levels worldwide, and that's also true for small SUVs. The Kona will be available with 2WD and 4WD options.
Inside, the Kona will offer tech goodies such as a 5-, 7- or 8-inch screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a head-up display, wireless smartphone charging and safety features such as pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.
The Hyundai Kona will be pitched competitively against the Juke and Captur. Slated to go on sale in the first quarter of 2018, the Kona will take on SUVs like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Chevrolet Trax, offering an appealing mix of bold style and compelling features.
Scott Grant believes it will be among the top sellers in the small SUV category, which has nearly doubled since 2014. "His presence at the event suggests the high importance that Hyundai is placing on the new model in its global strategy". That's not strictly correct; Hyundai's adventure vehicles are named after tourist locations, hence the Kona badge, a reference to a district on the big island of Hawaii.
Expect the entry-level vehicle to be priced from about $25,000, stretching to close to $40K for the top-of the range 4WD model.