Hyundai Motor unveils new small SUV as China sales skid

Hyundai Motor unveils new small SUV as China sales skid

Hyundai has developed an all-new compact SUV platform for the Kona.

Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, introduces the Kona compact SUV during a world premiere event held at the Hyundai Motor Studio in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province.

Hyundai is planning to give its new Kona SUV a baby brother - as well as launching a larger model than the Santa Fe as it tries to expand its off-roader line-up.

The Kona will compete with Nissan's Juke, Toyota Motor's C-HR and Renault's Captur.

The SUV will go on sale in the manufacturer's home country later this month, to be followed by North America and Europe.

The Kona joins Tucson, Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport in a growing line-up of Hyundai Motor SUVs, as the company continues to widen customer choice in the segment. Domestically, it targets to sell more than 26,000 Konas this year and 45,000 units next year.

The reality of how entertaining the little SUV will be to drive is still up for discussion, but you can't deny that Hyundai's increasingly staid design language has been given a thorough going over, instilling the Kona with distinctive, if not necessarily attractive sheet metal.

The five new SUVs are an all-electric Kona, a fuel cell vehicle, a SUV larger than the Santa Fe and two smaller-sized crossovers, the company said.

When it does arrive in New Zealand, there will be two petrol models - a 2WD version powered by a 111kW/179Nm Atkinson Cycle multi-point injected engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and an AWD version powered by a 132kW/265Nm direct injected and turbocharged engine paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

Kona models equipped with a 1.0 gasoline turbo GDi engine and 1.6 gasoline turbo GDi engine will be available in Europe.

Besides, the European version will also get a downsized 1.0 T-GDI turbocharged three-cylinder diesel engine with six-speed manual transmission. This year, the segment's annual growth rate is expected to be 19 percent.

Sales of Kona would be crucial to help counter Hyundai's eroding auto sales this year in the US and China, where a backlash against South Korea's deployment of a USA anti-missile system hurt Korean businesses.

Hyundai Motor's accumulated global sales plunged 6.5 percent on-year to 1.82 million units between January and May this year, largely due to anti-Korean sentiment in China as well as sluggish overall automobile sales in the US. It aims to sell over 200,000 of the vehicles globally next year.

When asked about overseas acquisitions, Chung said Hyundai now had no plans to buy other carmakers. The new compact SUV is an entry level model in Hyundai's global SUV line-up including Tucson, Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.

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