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Hyundai to Debut Tiny Crossover at New York Auto Show

Slots below Kona, but with little family resemblance

Slots below Kona, but with little family resemblance

Hyundai will use the New York auto show to unveil a tiny addition to the lineup, a crossover smaller than the Kona.

The A-segment crossover will go on sale later this year. While the larger B-segment Hyundai Kona is on the sportier side and well-contented, the smaller A-segment vehicle will have a more traditional body style but will not look like a mainstream utility vehicle.

“It’s smaller and it’s distinctively different than Kona,” said SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center in Namyang, Korea, in an interview with MotorTrend.

Being so small, there are limitations to design because it must be functional space. Lee said it has a “very very distinctive two box area. So imagine Kona as a really fast profile, distinctive, iconic character to it, but this one is almost very boxy, bold, bull-doggy character.”

The A-segment vehicle will be more entry level, for an even younger buyer than the Kona. It will not sit on the same platform as the Kona.

“We see it as a niche market,” said Lee said, confirming it will be offered in North America, a market that has not had much of an appetite for such small cars—think Fiat 500. But Lee thinks there is demand for such a small car, and it represents an opportunity for growth. The market has a lot of players in the mainstream utility segments from compact to full-size, but the A-segment is white space where Hyundai can be more ambitious and create its own niche market, he said.

“We want to be ambitious with CUVs,” he said. For years, Hyundai lacked a full complement of crossovers—relying on Tucson and Santa Fe—and its car-centric lineup cost it sales and the jobs of a couple U.S. CEOs who oversaw the automaker during the sales downturn.

The lineup has grown with the addition of new nameplates at both ends of the spectrum: the small subcompact Kona and Kona EV as well as the large three-row, eight-passenger Palisade coming this summer. There is also the Nexo fuel cell vehicle. Genesis will add its first SUV, the GV80, this year.

The Hyundai Kona is pictured above.