Hyundai Motor Company’s all‒new Kona shows an unprecedented change suitable for a full‒change model. The body has grown so much that it can no longer be called a compact SUV, and the voluminous sides and sharp lines harmonize, further emphasizing sophistication. The seamless horizon lamp across the front is one of the design elements that is considered the biggest change. Indeed, the new Kona still boasts a unique design charm through drastic changes.
The notable part of the new Kona is the unique iconic design that has been carried over from the previous Kona. The new Kona has undergone a completely new look to suit the change, but the iconic design elements of the first‒generation Kona can still be found throughout the body. Then, what would be the reason for the new Kona to inherit the iconic design? Here are the designers of the all‒new Kona to explain out why the new Kona still sticks to the unique design more than any other Hyundai’s SUV lineup, which is all about the ‘family’ look.
The intention of Hyundai’s design team was clearly that the new Kona should inherit the iconic design elements of the current Kona; And this is further developed into a new Kona under the slogan ‘Still a Kona’. Senior researcher Hong‒suk Choi, who designed the exterior of the Kona, emphasized the role of Kona among Hyundai Motor Company’s SUV lineup and explained as follows. “Kona’s role in Hyundai’s SUV lineup is definitely ‘iconic’. Therefore, we developed Kona with a more design‒oriented focus than other models, and developed it into a more evolved figure while inheriting Kona’s unique character.”
Senior researcher Hong‒suk Choi’s explanation is well illustrated by Kona’s ‘Armor design’. Since the first generation, Kona has demonstrated the tough and strong image of an SUV by adding garnishes to the wheel arches as if they were wearing armor. And these armor designs have evolved further in the new Kona. Senior researcher Hong‒suk Choi explained how they integrated the headlamp and taillamp while maintaining consistency with the character line of the body. In addition, he emphasized that the armor design, which creates a sophisticated image while maintaining a strong feeling, played a very important role in the exterior design of the new Kona.
In addition, the armor design of the new Kona has different color choices depending on the powertrain lineup. Kona Electric’s ‘armor’ uses the same color as its body to realize a sleek and simple image, and that of the internal combustion engine model uses black dual‒tone to emphasize the strong impression unique to SUVs. Senior researcher Hong‒suk Choi explained, “Various garnish colors visually convey the characteristics and differences of each lineup, and Kona’s garnish not only protects the body, but is also aesthetic.”
The front part of Kona has changed overall, but among them, the presence of the ‘Seamless Horizon Lamp’, which has been extended for a long time, is significant. Senior researcher Hong‒suk Choi introduced Kona’s iconic lamp design, saying, “Seamless Horizon Lamp, which lights seamlessly, is a new lamp design that embodies Hyundai’s design philosophy.” As he explained, the thin and long lamp functions as a daytime running light while driving the vehicle and emits a clear light. In addition, the lamp line that seamlessly crosses the body emphasizes a wider and more stable stance, creating a future‒oriented atmosphere.
Seamless horizon lamps can be found in common not only in the new Kona, but also in Hyundai’s latest vehicles such as the Grandeur. The slim lamp design becomes an element of the family look that shows it is one of the Hyundai, even from a distance. However, Kona’s electric model, the Kona Electric, housed a more unique seamless horizon lamp. “Pixel Light is the most important and unique design element of Hyundai Motor Company’s electric vehicles, including the IONIQ lineup, which means that the analog and digital aspects are harmonized to satisfy all generations. Kona Electric is housing this, expressing that it shares Hyundai’s EV DNA,” explained senior researcher Hong‒suk Choi about Kona Electric’s unconventional lamp design.
The design of Kona, which consists of various lineups, was completed through a special process. Generally, automakers make the internal combustion engine model first, and then it develops into the EV model; However, the new Kona design started with the EV, Kona Electric, then expanded to the internal combustion version and the N‒line model. Senior researcher Hong‒suk Choi points to this new design process as the secret behind Kona’s innovative design. Then he explained, “through these attempts, we were able to develop designs from a new perspective. All lineups of the new Kona have a simple and future‒oriented atmosphere unique to EVs, but at the same time, each lineup has been perfected with a colorful design that makes use of its individuality.”
On the other hand, the new Kona has a more expanded cabin space based on the larger body. A flexible and functional structure stands out throughout the interior, along with a horizontal crash pad (dashboard) and a panoramic display configuration that integrates a 12.3‒inch cluster and navigation. Senior researcher Sun‒hoi Moon, who was in charge of Kona’s interior design, said, “Kona’s cabin space focuses on a user‒centered space that can reflect various lifestyles of customers. In order to perfect the new interior, we completely emptied the expanded interior space and thoroughly filled in various customer experience elements developed based on Hyundai Motor’s unique advanced technology.”
In fact, the Kona’s interior is full of various high‒tech convenience features that transcend its class. However, the driver’s space is very functional and concisely organized. senior researcher Sun‒hoi Moon singled out the floating center fascia as a distinctive design element for the Kona; “The floating center fascia was designed to realize a driver‒centered, functional layout. The center fascia, which seems to be floating in the air, not only creates a visually simple image, but is actually placed in a position where the driver can conveniently handle various functions.”
In addition, Kona’s cabin space houses interior elements that maximize utility. There is a swivel type cup holder in the front seat center console, and an open console storage box allows passengers to freely adjust the space as needed. Senior researcher Sun‒hoi Moon explained the secret to the Kona’s spacious storage is the column‒type electronic shift lever; “the electronic shift lever moved to the steering column allows the center console area to be fully utilized as a storage space.”
The Kona has design elements that are unique to each lineup, but the interior structure is the same; The automaker’s strategy is to use the simple and wide design of EVs in all its lineups. However, Kona Electric put parametric pixel graphics in the center of the steering wheel to emphasize the EV identity, and expressed individuality for each model through unique interior color combinations and materials.
Senior researcher Ki‒il Kweon, who designed Kona’s CMF (Color, Material, Finish), explained that the focus was on highlighting the individuality of each lineup with materials and color combinations in the same interior structure. He also took Kona Electric’s ‘Eco Package’ as an example and explained as follows: “The Eco Package, which utilizes eco‒friendly materials, demonstrates certain characteristics of green EVs, such as the recycled materials for headlining and floor mats.”
The all‒new Kona is a completely new generation born of innovative changes both inside and outside. Its iconic design makes Kona stand out even more. At the end of the interview, the designers said that the Kona’s essence of innovative styling and utility has not changed, hence, ‘Kona is Kona’.
They also said, “The design of Kona has been completely redesigned, but we still want Kona owners to feel like their daily life is a happy journey.” As they say, its new generation retains the same charm. The all‒new Konas ‒ the internal combustion engine model, the future‒oriented Kona Electric, and the N line with high‒performance sensibility ‒ meet our expectations with their variety of charms.
Photography by Dae‒il Choi and Bum‒seok Kim
*The pre‒production model shown in the article may differ from the production vehicles.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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