Hyundai launched its new subcompact crossover, the Kona, at a press event in Goyang, South Korea June 13, putting its competition on notice and declaring the automotive giant wants a bite of the fast-growing mini-ute pie.

The South Korean automaker is poised to pitch its Kona into battle with the Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke, Toyota C-HR, and Jeep Renegade—all vehicles that have proven popular with buyers, and, notably, that appeal to Millennials.

The Kona sits atop the Accent platform, and is thus set to offer impressive fuel economy and city-friendly maneuverability.

Hyundai claims its new entrant to the segment will offer best-in-class interior space and unmatched utility thanks in part to fold-flat rear seats, which stow to offer up cavernous (for a vehicle of its size) storage space.

The Kona presents a departure from Hyundai’s predominant design language, with a front-end that appears to have taken a page from the Jeep Cherokee’s design sketches – it even has horizontal slotted lights and turn signals positioned above conventional light clusters – but it remains recognizably a Hyundai.

While it may look a bit like a Cherokee, the Kona will not offer any Jeep-like off-road prowess, with Jeep’s Renegade remaining the only vehicle in the segment that, when so equipped, can truly handle off-road terrain.

Designers were mindful of consumer feedback when creating the Kona, and incorporated a high seating position into the vehicle’s layout, thereby giving drivers a better view of the road ahead, and making the vehicle feel a bit larger than its footprint would suggest.

The Kona will be powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder that makes 147 hp and 196 lb-ft of torque in front-wheel-drive base form, while a larger 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 175 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque and all-wheel-drive will be optional.

The lesser engine will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission while the 1.6-litre will be mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch, which will allow the non-turbo and turbo Kona to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h in 10 seconds or a respectable 7.7 seconds, respectively.

The Kona is expected to hit Canadian dealerships in 2018 with a base price that significantly undercuts its larger-sibling Tucson and Santa Fe SUVs.

(Hyundai)