- The new 2024 Hyundai Kona is bigger and more luxurious than its predecessor.
- Its spectacular “seamless horizon” front light bar will be standard.
- Gasoline and EV versions will reach the US by the end of the year.
Owners of the previous generation Hyundai Kona had only two substantive complaints, according to the company’s vice president of design, Sangyup Lee. It was a lack of space in the subcompact SUV’s rear seats and also its limited cargo volume. You won’t be surprised that both of these areas have been addressed with the new version.
It’s 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 has a new design of stripped-down front seats that are claimed to offer both the same level of comfort and support as the old car, but, being 30 per cent slimmer, also improves rear legroom. After sitting in an early version of the 2024 car, we can confirm that it feels much roomier in the 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 it the “seamless horizon”—and a similar red taillight graphic at the rear. Sangyup Lee said that this new element was the 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 there’s no chance that version will make it to the United States. The most obvious visual difference 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 color. That rule isn’t hard and fast, though: the N-line, which is a trim level rather than a flashy performance derivative, will also get body-color protection, as well as a cute (but slightly ridiculous) two-piece rear spoiler and a larger opening in its front bumper.
Interior design also feels significantly upgraded over the outgoing car. The new Kona gets dual 12.3-inch display screens, the one in front of the driver displaying instrumentation and the central touchscreen handling infotainment functions. Despite that, Hyundai hasn’t followed suit to digital-only control architecture, with the Kona keeping both a row of function shortcut buttons and physical climate control below these. We’re told the company also has no plans to replace conventional buttons in any of its upcoming models, which is a plus in our book. The Kona Electric also benefits from a flat floor in the cabin, although the combustion versions still have a compact tunnel.
We don’t have finalized US specs yet, but expect plenty of optional equipment in the more expensive 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 also plans to allow it to be locked and unlocked through the NFC Near Field Communication feature on smartphones and smartwatches. All versions of the new Kona get a compact gear shifter on the side of the steering column, with steering wheel paddles to enable gear selection in combustion versions, and variable regeneration levels in the EV.
Kona was more eager to talk about the new Kona Electric than its petrol siblings. That’s because the combustion versions will be essentially similar to the outgoing version, with the choice of a basic 2.0-liter engine and a more powerful turbocharged 1.6-liter above. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive will still be offered, but we’ll have to wait until closer to the car’s formal unveiling at the New York Auto Show in April for final performance figures.
Details on the Kona EV
However, we have more numbers for the Kona Electric. In some markets, Hyundai plans to offer two different versions of the EV, but we’re told to expect only the more powerful version to make it to the U.S. with its 65.4-kWh battery pack and a single front motor producing 214 horsepower .
In Europe, Hyundai is aiming for a WLTP range of more than 305 miles – this will likely translate to an EPA rating of somewhere closer to 260 miles (the current car has a slightly smaller battery and gets 258 miles on the EPA’s test rated). The Electric’s charging port is on the front and while it won’t be able to top up 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 top speed. This is equivalent to a peak rate of about 77 kW from a DC charger. The Kona Electric will also support “vehicle-to-charger” 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 it could produce a more powerful EV version with all-wheel drive from a second rear motor. The company’s engineers admit that this car looks ideal to carry N branding. We hope it does, because the prospect of a 430-hp Kona is an interesting one.
The new Kona will be launched in the US in the third quarter of the year, with pricing details to follow.
Mike Duff has been writing about the motoring industry for two decades and calls the UK home, although he normally lives life on the road. He loves old cars and adventure in unlikely places, with career highlights including driving to Chernobyl in a Lada.