The new 2024 Hyundai Kona is larger and more luxurious than its predecessor.
Its spectacular "seamless horizon" front light bar will be standard.
Gasoline and EV versions will reach the U.S. by the end of the year.
Owners of the previous-generation Hyundai Kona only had two substantive complaints according to the company’s vice president of design Sangyup Lee. That was a lack of space in the subcompact SUV’s rear seats and also its limited cargo volume. You will be unsurprised that both these areas have been addressed with the new version.
This is a gentle evolution of a successful formula rather than a radical transformation. The new 2024 Kona is up to 6.9 inches longer than the outgoing version and sits on a wheelbase that has been stretched by 2.4 inches. Inside it features a new design of slimmed-down front seats which are claimed to offer both the same level of comfort and support as the old car but, being 30 percent slimmer, also improve rear legroom. Having sat in an early version of the 2024 car we can confirm it does feel much roomier in back. On Hyundai’s numbers trunk capacity has risen from 13 cubic feet to 17 cubic feet with the rear seats in place.
Intergalactic New Face
The most obvious design difference for the new generation is the arrival of a single full-width light bar at the front of the car—Hyundai calls this the "seamless horizon"—and a similar red taillight graphic at the rear. Sangyup Lee said that this new element was the single most complex feature on the car. It certainly gives the front a very futuristic look, one we feel we’ve seen on a character in at least one Star Wars movie. The actual headlights are much smaller units lower down and mounted on each side of the bumper.
As before, both gas and electric Kona versions will be offered. Other parts of the world will also get a hybrid, but we’re told that there is no chance of that version making it to the United States. The most obvious visual distinction between the EV and the regular combustion version will be that the gas cars get gray body cladding while the Kona Electric’s is body colored. That rule isn’t hard and fast, though: the range-topping N Line, which is a trim level rather than a scintillating performance derivative, will also get body-color protection as well as a cute (but faintly preposterous) two-piece rear spoiler and a more sizable opening in its front bumper.
Interior design also feels substantially upgraded over the outgoing car. The new Kona gets dual 12.3-inch display screens, the one ahead of the driver displaying instrumentation and the central touchscreen handling infotainment functions. Despite that, Hyundai hasn’t followed the herd into digital-only control architecture, with the Kona keeping both a row of function shortcut buttons and physical climate controls below these. We’re told the company isn’t planning to replace conventional buttons in any of its forthcoming models, either, which is a plus in our book. The Kona Electric also benefits from a flat floor in the cabin, although the combustion versions continue to have a compact tunnel.
We don’t have finalized U.S. specifications yet, but anticipate lots of optional equipment in the pricier versions. The European-spec cars we saw had power front seats with both heating and cooling plus a 360-degree camera system. All versions will support over-the-air software updates, and Hyundai is also planning to allow it to be locked and unlocked through the NFC Near Field Communication function on smartphones and smart watches. All versions of the new Kona get a compact gearshift selector on the side of the steering column, with steering wheel paddles to allow gear selection in combustion versions, and varying regeneration levels in the EV.
Kona was keener to talk about the new Kona Electric than its gasoline sisters. That’s because the combustion versions are going to be substantially similar to the outgoing version, with the choice of a basic 2.0-liter engine and a more powerful turbocharged 1.6-liter above this. Both front-drive and all-wheel drive will continue to be offered, but we will need to wait until close to the car’s formal unveiling at the New York auto show in April for finalized performance figures.
Details on the Kona EV
We do have more numbers for the Kona Electric, though. In some markets Hyundai plans to offer two different versions of the EV, but we’re told to expect that only the more potent version will reach the U.S. with its 65.4-kWh battery pack and a single front motor that produces 214 horsepower.
In Europe, Hyundai is targeting a WLTP range of more than 305 miles—that would likely translate to an EPA rating of somewhere closer to 260 miles (the current car has a slightly smaller battery and is rated at 258 miles on the EPA's test). The Electric’s charging port is at the front and, although it won’t be able to replenish as quickly as the ultra-fast 800-volt architecture of the Ioniq 5, Hyundai says it will be possible to go from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in 41 minutes at the highest rate. That equates to a peak rate of around 77 kW from a DC charger. The Kona Electric will also support "vehicle-to-load" charging, basically allowing it to serve as a giant power pack.
While there are no immediate plans to directly replace the Kona N, Hyundai admits that it may produce a more powerful EV version with all-wheel drive from a second motor at the rear. The company’s engineers admit that this car would seem ideally suited to carry N branding. Here’s hoping that happens, as the prospect of a 430-hp Kona is an intriguing one.
The new Kona will be launched in the U.S. in the third quarter of the year, with pricing details to follow.
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