Home » 2024 Hyundai Kona: Hyundai’s Design Team Continues To Beat Everyone’s Ass

2024 Hyundai Kona: Hyundai’s Design Team Continues To Beat Everyone’s Ass

2024 Hyundai Kona Preview Topshot

Subcompact crossover talk isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but you’ll want to stick around for this one. The new Hyundai Kona has just been revealed and while it’s not exactly a sports car or even a performance car, it makes a compelling case for rational transportation. That’s because the Kona now suddenly looks amazing, a testament to how Hyundai continues to kick everyone else’s asses on the design front these days.

2024 Hyundai Kona 1

While the previous Kona started with a conventional subcompact crossover and converted it to electric power, Hyundai claims that the new Kona was designed to be electric first. What exactly that means, we don’t know right now, but we do know that the new Kona is much bigger than the old one. Length is up by 5.9 inches, 2.3 of which are in the wheelbase, while the new car is an inch wider than the old one. This should better position the Kona against the Toyota Corolla Cross and Mazda CX-30, both of which lean towards the larger side of subcompact.

Electric rear end

So, the size is up, but what else is new? How about styling? The giant full-width daytime running light feels a bit “Honey, I shrunk the Staria,” but it looks quite sharp and is certainly distinctive. Plus, the rear light bar mirrors the front to create a pleasing harmony, despite the Kona’s tendency to mash together clashing surfaces.

[Editor’s Note: I think this DRL/headlight treatment is really bold and novel, a realization of something automakers have been toying with for decades. It also lends a sci-fi face feel, like Jeordi’s VISOR or Cyclops’ slit-goggles or those ’80s sunglasses. It’s a bold, fun move, keeping with Hyundai/Kia’s bold styling decisions lately, especially with lighting. – JT]

2024 Hyundai Kona 2

Yes, the unpainted cladding is back on certain models, turning Gandini arch inspiration to caricature and providing protection from certain parking knocks. However, the sheer amount of unpainted plastic has been turned down, with the front bumpers of standard models now painted the body color almost all the way down. Granted, this is mitigated somewhat by two massive triangles in the lower grille breaking up visual width and adding complication, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Still, it’s hard to argue that the Kona Electric isn’t the most handsome variant, thanks to its paint-matched fenders and strong horizontal grille blocking. All the signature pixel-like elements are on display in the grille, and the triangles of other models are nowhere to be found, so this front-end treatment really seems to work. In fact, the new Kona Electric looks crisp enough that you can think of it as a budget Ioniq 5. Good stuff.

Interior

The budget Ioniq 5 vibes continue on the interior, where Hyundai has pulled out a massive improvement over the old Kona. With available hoodless digital cluster and infotainment screens mounted in a single bezel and a more layered dashboard with strong horizontal elements, the new Kona’s cabin looks nearly ten years newer than the old car’s cockpit. Granted, I’m sure some hard plastics remain due to the Kona’s price point, but the overall appearance is a huge improvement. Plus, an electronic shifter on the steering column should free up a ton of space for center console storage.

Despite how nice the new Kona looks, I can’t help but feel a bit sad. There’s no mention of the fast Kona N model living to see another day, which seems like a shame considering the only other powerful retail-priced subcompact crossover on the market is the Mazda CX-30 Turbo, a much more grown-up, less performance-oriented take on a spicy small crossover. Sure, there will be an N-Line Kona model with sporty add-ons, but I just want to see a fully-mental version of the new Kona.

2024 Hyundai Kona Electric

However, even if a new Kona N doesn’t come to fruition, the existence of a new Kona Electric is cause for celebration. The current model is one of the most efficient affordable EVs out there, with impressively low energy consumption granting it an EPA rating of 120 MPGe combined, 134 in the city, and 106 on the highway. A 258-mile range on a 64 kWh battery pack is pretty good stuff, so I’m excited to see how the efficiency of the new model compares to the current car.

Plus, the standard new Hyundai Kona just looks like a better subcompact crossover than the current car, and progress is usually a good thing in the world of cars. The longer wheelbase should translate to more cabin space, the updated cabin design should make the new car feel nicer, and the availability of a hybrid powertrain is great news for those who don’t want to take the leap into an EV but still want to burn less fuel. Expect more details on the new Kona to be released in the coming months, so on-sale timing is anyone’s guess.

(Photo credits: Hyundai)

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35 Responses

    1. I remember reading a similar complaint about the daytime running lights of the 2nd/3rd gen Saturn S-Series and the Olds Alero. The DRLs were inboard on the headlights (well, reduced brightness high beams), and so without a conventional grille they were very close together and could make it look like the car was further away than it actually was.

  1. Alright I’ll weigh in a bit as one of the 7 people who actually went out and bought a Kona N. First and foremost, the interior is a huge improvement. Even in its nicer guises the current Kona is a bit of a penalty box (I’ve also driven a limited trim). The interior of my N is, in fact, pretty damn shitty for the price point. While they do dress it up with varying textures, some soft touch material strewn around, and some N logos here and there, it still absolutely feels like an eco shitbox, and everything is black. The Evo comparisons it gets are definitely earned on that front and it’s much worse than my GTI was.

    This is a MASSIVE improvement. I like the exterior styling as well, and I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes the current Kona’s styling a lot. Fun fact-it was actually designed by a former member of Lamborghini’s team, who I believe was the lead designer of the Gallardo. Anyway, this is more modern and less quirky. I think Hyundai does a good job of pushing the envelope without going overkill across the board. They’re making good looking cars these days.

    Finally, this looks like it has some more back seat space, which is welcome. The current Kona isn’t the best on that front…if you have sub 6 foot folks sitting behind sub 6 foot folks it’s plenty comfortable, but if you’re going to have taller people riding in it often the current gen isn’t exactly a great fit. That being said…it’s still an extremely practical car. It has enough space for most stuff you’d ever need to do and it’s small enough that you can park it in a city…and even the 1.6T is a peppy, responsive car because of the short wheelbase and turbo. Basically just think of this as a tall hot hatch and it makes more sense.

    As for the N model…Bierrman has confirmed that there will be another ICE Elantra N but he’s been very hush hush on everything else. It’s widely speculated that this is the end of the line for the Kona N…at least in ICE form. They’ll soon be unveiling N versions of the Ioniq 5 and 6, so I’d imagine that if we see another Kona N it will electric, especially since this is a ground up EV platform.

    Which is a shame. I think the turbo 4 in the current Kona, Elantra, and Veloster Ns is the most characterful four cylinder on the market currently. It’s loud. It pops. It bangs. It farts. It rumbles. It likes to revved out, unlike most turbo 4 poppers that tend to run out of breath high. It’s a sloppy, unruly, raw, visceral experience that doesn’t really exist outside of supercars and pony cars anymore….and when paired with their wet DCT like it is in the Kona it really punches above its weight class.

    But alas, it’s extremely thirsty for a four popper and European regulations already have it on its deathbed. Rumors are that the new ICE Elantra N is going to be US market only, and the Kona N is a surprisingly decent seller in Europe and ‘Straya….so if they don’t see the need to develop a new ICE Kona N I definitely get it.

    But it’s still sad. The current Kona N is one of the most ridiculous cars on the road today and the combination of performance, practicality, and price is special and overlooked in my opinion. If they kill it off I’ll be interested to see what it does to values. The current ones are more or less depreciating normally, and it’s a really niche vehicle so I’m not sure if demand for it will ever be that high. But will I make a nice sum if I list it on Cars And Bids in 5-10 years? Tune in to find out, although I wouldn’t bet on it.

    1. I’d be surprised if the relatively conservative AUDM wouldn’t accept another generation of ICE performance compacts, though maybe without the UK Hyundai just doesn’t see the impetus to make RHD happen for just one market (although Elantra N is currently sold in AU and not the UK). I’d also be surprised if the Elantra N got another generation but the Kona N didn’t since I would have thought the latter to be much more popular in the CUV-crazed U.S.

      1. I don’t think the Kona N is selling particularly well here in the states. There are tons of them listed for sale online right now and some dealerships have even started discounting them in my area. Bierrman essentially said their goal was more or less to woo the average crossover buyer with a performance option, but on that front this car misses the mark. Badly.

        It’s just way too hardcore for normies…between the stiff ride, torque steer, loud exhaust, etc. My crossover owning friends and family have less than 0 interest in it. But enthusiasts are gravitating more towards the Elantra N since it’s objectively a slightly better performer and it has a manual option.

        The Kona N is just kind of alone in the market. I actually wound up with one as a compromise-I test drove an Elantra N and was smitten with it but my wife thought it was ugly and impractical. So naturally when I said “well they put all the same go fast bits in a CUV” she said “ohhhhh that’s the one we should get then”.

        Honestly I think that specific niche is what the car serves so damn well…it’s a genuine enthusiast vehicle that delivers legitimate performance (mine makes my MK7.5 GTI seem like child’s play in comparison) in a package that no one is going to complain about. If you want a fast car with some edge that you can sell your partner on, look no further.

        But I don’t think it’s enough to keep the car alive or make it sell well. Like I said…I’m planning on keeping mine for a while and will be interested to see what the value is like if I try to sell it down the road. It’s hard to know if the community will come around on it or if it’ll always be an odd curiosity. Either way I love mine.

  2. Not really, but OK. These are fine, but there are plenty other cars that look better.

    And then there’s the Ioniq 6, which is downright hideous, as is the Sonata.

  3. I wish that Hyundai wasn’t too chicken to keep selling the Elantra GT here but I could honestly see myself driving that if I was forced to buy something new.

  4. Now the Tesla Cybertruck’s light bar will seem old and derivative. I guess that’s what happens when you reveal a prototype and then take a decade to actually build it.

    1. The upsizing makes sense – the new Tucson grew in size, as the old one was on the smaller end of the segment compared to CR-V/RAV4/etc. So there’s room for a larger Kona, and that will put more space between it and the smaller Venue.

    2. I wondered if the new Kona would grow to match the Kia Niro’s size.
      Not quite – the 2024 Kona seems to be 171.5 inches long, with a 104.8 inch wheelbase.
      The 2023 Niro is 174.0 inches long, with a 107.1 inch wheelbase.

    3. We get the new LWB Tucson which is considerably larger than the Kona. No doubt the Kona is growing to perhaps give the Venue/Venue replacement some breathing room. Also, look at Honda’s HR-V now moving to the Civic platform and ballooning in size over its Fit-based predecessor.

  5. The wife and I rented a first gen Kona electric a few months ago and we loved everything about it. It was the perfect size, the external and internal styling were great, and it was just a joy to drive. The redesign is a little too… pugnacious for my taste. Kinda getting a James Bottomtooth IV vibes (https://familyguy.fandom.com/wiki/James_Bottomtooth_IV)

    If I were to buy one, I’d definitely go for the previous model.

  6. It’s not just the styling, I’ve seen technical analyses of the current Kona electric and Genesis G90 – it’s amazing what they do.
    If I was in the market for a new car, Hyundai would be the only option.
    And then I would buy an Outback because that’s how addicted to them I am ????

    1. I sold used cars in the early 90s. I also refused to sell Hyundais and Renaults as they were both just awful cars at the time, prone to breaking for no good reason.

      Fast forward to current day and my wife drives a Kia Soul turbo and my early Christmas present to myself was a brand new 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz Night edition (in gray). It’s my first brand new car ever and I LOVE the styling. I like my wife’s Soul as well. Both cars are great quality for the price and loaded with tech. Hyundai is really killing it, and good for them.

  7. The exterior is good enough but they nailed that interior. That’s punching above your weight class. Just like people, the exterior might grab your attention but the interior is what you live with.

  8. While I absolutely agree that Hyundai has dialed it up to 11 with it’s new design language and the execution of that in their new models. I will argue that they’re not outdoing everyone.

    Mazda is the one out their absolutely throwing hands at everyone around them when it comes to well executioned styling. They continued to prove that you don’t need sharp creases, fake vents and over designed features to make a car look good, their current designs feature huge areas of smooth flowing bodywork that looks good from basically every angle and they’re really punching above their weight in almost every area for a company that’s been flirting with a slow death for a few years now. (Looking at you Mitsubishi, please, just close your eyes.)

    I will follow this up with acknowledgement that I think the 2023/4 models they’ve shown off impress me less, but they’re still very nice.

  9. I dunno, man. From a certain viewpoint I appreciate it, but from another viewpoint I look at it and just can’t help but think of a Ninja Turtle muttering “I am one with the Force, the Force is one with me.”

    1. not to mention the countless recalls every year and not being able to make an engine that doesn’t eat its bearings or set the car on fire in decades of trying

  10. “It also lends a sci-fi face feel, like [G]eordi’s VISOR or Cyclops’ slit-goggles or those ’80s sunglasses.”

    There is either a missed opportunity by the MFR or a prime opportunity for the aftermarket to incorporate a Cylon-style side-to-side scan to augment the turn signal indicator.

  11. “Hyundai’s Design Team Continues To Beat Everyone’s Ass”

    I’ll be the judge of that!
    (Five minutes later.)
    … jesusfuck, how the fuck did the company that brought us the Kia Carnival and the Sephia just show up Zagato?!

  12. Love these cars. But, and there’s always a but, then you go to the dealership and the whole thing turns to poo. They really need to get the dealership franchises up to speed. I went to the local Hyundai dealer with my nephew and to look at a Kona EV and they would not talk price until we sat down. It states that MSRP is not the actual price. So we walked out. This should not be so hard.

  13. The current Kona is one of the more space-efficient entries in the segment for its size – about the same passenger volume as the CX-30 and Corolla Cross, despite being several inches shorter than either (by 7-10″). None of those are necessarily “roomy,” but the truly “big” entry in the segment is the new HR-V – more than a foot longer than the current Kona, and 4-5 cu. ft larger in passenger and cargo space each. So the extra size should put it more on more even footing there.

    This should all help next to the Kia Seltos too, which always has looked noticeably larger to me – maybe in part just from the boxier styling, but it is ~6″ longer and ~2″ taller too.

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