Hyundai Kona kicks off SUV expansion

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Hyundai SUV family grows

Hyundai hopes to set a new benchmark for space, performance and ability with its first small SUV, the Kona. Named after the district on the Big Island in Hawaii, the new circa-$25,000 SUV will go head to head with the likes of the Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V.

Due on sale here in October, it will be available with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels or a more powerful 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo driving all four wheels.

The Kona is only the beginning of an SUV expansion by Hyundai. The Korean brand also confirmed over the next few years it will create an even smaller SUV as well as one larger than the Santa Fe, eventually giving it a five-strong SUV line-up. All will share some of the new SUV-dedicated look that debuted on the Kona, including the distinctive slimline LED headlights.

Holden CR-V

Honda’s numbers game

Big changes have accompanied Honda’s new CR-V, one of the pioneers of the mid-sized SUV category. Sitting on a longer platform, the new model brings the option of a third row of seats for the first time, taking capacity to seven. The seven-seat option is only available with the front-drive model and exclusively in the leather-clad VTi-L.

As with other CR-Vs, which start with the $30,690 VTi, it comes fitted exclusively with the CVT automatic transmission. For that you get dual-zone ventilation, smart-key entry and active noise cancelling, the latter using the sound system to emit opposing frequencies to reduce in-cabin noise.

Honda will also downsize the CR-V’s engine to 1.5 litres, the addition of a turbocharger providing more punch than the 2.4-litre it replaces.

BMW 530-e

BMW’s high 5

BMW is getting serious on its hybrid range, with the new 530e iPerformance identically priced to the 530i it shares a body with. The ‘e’ picks up an electric motor and batteries to boost the four-cylinder turbocharged engine that provides most of the power. However, for up to 43 kilometres the 530e can be driven purely on electricity, using its engine to recharge the batteries for longer trips or for more power.

Despite the $108,900 price tag, BMW is expecting the petrol-only 530i to significantly outsell the 530e, due to lacklustre charging infrastructure and lingering scepticism towards electric propulsion.

Mercedes S-Class

Six of the best for S-Class

Mercedes-Benz will soon reintroduce an inline six-cylinder engine, a configuration that departed in the late 1990s because the V6 was easier to fit under the bonnet.

The updated S-Class limousine, due in late 2017, is the first of a number of Benz models that will benefit from the all-new design that claims significant improvements to efficiency and performance.

The inline six will be available as diesel or petrol – although which versions come to Australia is yet to be confirmed – the latter including an electric turbocharger to supplement the regular exhaust-driven turbo to reduce lag.

The return to an inline six-cylinder layout – something that continued in the locally made Ford Falcon throughout its life – is not unique to Mercedes. Jaguar is also developing a new-generation inline six.

Hyundai i-30

Hatching a plan to hot up market

The hot hatch market is heating up with the imminent arrival of Hyundai’s i30 N.

Powered by a new 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with upwards of 200kW of power driving through a tricky limited slip differential, the i30 N (pictured above in pre-release camouflage) has Volkswagen’s Golf GTI in its crosshairs.

Renault, too, is putting the finishing touches on its new Megane RS, due in 2018. Switching to a five-door layout – by far the most popular in the hot hatch segment – the RS will also be available with a four-wheel steering system for added pace and agility.

In the shorter term, though, the focus is on Honda’s Civic Type R, which gets a new 2.0-litre turbo pumping out 228kW. With aggressive styling and an interesting triple exhaust outlet, the Type R is priced from $50,990.

Written by Toby Hagon
July 17, 2017