Here’s a first look at the facelifted Hyundai Tucson, as well as the brand new Kona crossover – which Hyundai has been hinting at bringing into India for some time.
Hyundai has made great strides over the years when it comes to design. Their fluidic design philosophy has truly elevated the image of the brand globally. But this isn’t a static process, it’s ongoing – as a result of which their design philosophy is evolving as well. Just take the new Hyundai Kona for instance – the latest crossover from the brand. With an edgy design, the Kona reveals a completely different side to the brand. And with the option of hybrid and electric versions, it also does a great deal to expand Hyundai’s product portfolio worldwide.
In terms of aesthetic appeal, the Kona, with its triple headlight arrangement and a large front grille, is quite attractive and instantly catches your eye. Now, I don’t usually fall for futuristic designs, but the Kona is an exception – somehow, it manages to transcend the line between futuristic and realistic. In that sense, the bold front design of the car is a definite highlight, not just for the Kona as a product but also for Hyundai as a brand, for it takes the brand into an exciting new direction in terms of styling. The balanced stance of the Kona, with wheels on each corner and the muscular body cladding, give it a confidence and appeal that’s hard to match.
The interior too is no less bold. The cabin is embellished with contrast stitching on the seats and accented colour highlights that uplift the interior . One of the aspects of the Kona that I really admire is its ride and handling, which makes the car an absolute delight to drive. With its 177bhp, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the Kona picks up pace at an urgent rate and feels quite pleasing to drive. Also, the steering feel and response is absolutely world-class. After a long time, Hyundai has launched a product that has genuine steering feel, and in abundance – something that I really enjoyed during our brief drive to a Turkish beach town right outside Istanbul.
Tucson gets sharper
The other car that we sampled was the new facelifted version of the Tucson. An SUV that I’m already a big fan of – I love the crossover ability, the refinement, as well as the lovely ride and comfortable seats. The facelifted Tucson offers more of what is already an excellent package. Design wise, the first thing you notice is that the formidable front of the Tucson has now become even more imposing. The bi-LED headlamps have also been designed very well, adding to their functionality and, thereby, improving the driving experience. In the interior, the Tucson now features a new, larger multimedia system, which like the Kona, is mounted in a way that it appears to be floating above the dashboard. All this only adds to the already luxurious air of the interior.
While we didn’t drive the exact version that Hyundai will introduce in India in the middle of 2019, the version we did drive has a lot going for it. The Tucson still remains one of the best SUVs for in India in terms of size – a great five-seater with a big boot and yet small enough to park easily in congested cities. Now, with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox making its debut on the international version, it would be exciting to see how the existing – quite powerful, yet refined and frugal – 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine would work with this new transmission. With this new eight-speed, the Tucson could easily turn out to be one of the best affordable SUVs to drive in India.
Now, despite the fact that the Indian automotive market is still in flux with regard to the ideal future propulsion choice (petrol, diesel, CNG or electric), Hyundai has decided to take the step of introducing the Kona EV into the Indian market. While the facelifted Tucson is expected by the middle of 2019, the Kona EV is expected to be launched in India in the second half of 2019. Suffice to say that a very stylish and usable full EV is expected very soon.