Hyundai’s future glows bright with IONIQ Electric and Kona Hybrid

On track to achieving a 75 per cent electrified fleet by next year – Hyundai is accelerating into the future with two new variants of their IONIQ and Kona models

Hyundai IONIQ Electric and Hyundai Kona
(Image credit: hyundai)

Hyundai’s burgeoning image as a manufacturer of desirable, practical and stylish cars has taken another step forward with two new variants of their IONIQ and Kona models. Both further the Korean giant’s ambition to have 75 per cent of its fleet electrified in some way by next year. The two cars also cement the carefully crafted image that has been built up slowly and steadily since the carmaker entered the European and American markets in the 1980s.

Now the epitome of a modern car company, Hyundai began life as a construction firm back in 1947. These days, the various Hyundai businesses, including shipbuilding, shopping malls, robotics and heavy engineering, add up to the largest corporate entity in Korea, a technological and industrial behemoth in one of the world’s most sophisticated economies.

Hyundai Ioniq reverse

IONIQ Electric epitomises the marque’s modern image

(Image credit: hyundai)

Hyundai was relatively late in its adoption of branding and marketing. Once known for efficient but unexciting cars, it has worked hard to turn things around. These days, epic cinematic ad campaigns make a credible stab at presenting Hyundai as a caring, sharing multinational. More importantly, its automotive offerings are consistently excellent. All that’s missing is the heart-tugging emotions deployed so effectively by the heritage brands. But as the industry transitions to zero-emissions, the touchstones of traditional heritage are becoming less and less desirable.

Together, the IONIQ Electric and Kona Hybrid aren’t offering anything particularly new in terms of aesthetics and both already exist with other powertrains. The IONIQ is the larger of the two, a quietly well put together large hatchback in the Prius mold; this could be your next Uber ride. The Kona is pitched at private buyers, a modestly sized crossover with a modishly rugged exterior. Both cars are well equipped, functioning seamlessly and effectively without troubling the eye or impeding the mind. The IONIQ’s drivetrain is silent and silky smooth, as an EV should be, while the Kona’s hybrid system also does a great job of concealing the electronic back and forth between the battery, motors and the 1.6 litre petrol engine. Hyundai are pushing their new Bluelink technology, which effectively tethers the car to your smartphone, updates you on charge, unlocking, cabin temperature, etc. It’s not a new idea, but it’s rare to find this level of connectivity at this price.

Hyundai Kona hybrid engine

Kona Hybrid can swap between an electric battery and a 1.6 litre petrol engine

(Image credit: hyundai)

Hyundai’s electrification strategy was recently given a boost when the company joined IONITY, a fast-charging network across Europe that was set up by BMW, Daimler AG, Ford, VW and Porsche as a riposte to Tesla’s Supercharger system. Although the newly unveiled i10 city car offers even more of the refined, planted and safely civil design the company has become known for, there’s a strong hint that aesthetic change is on the way. The new 45 EV concept car shown at this year’s Frankfurt Show indicates a radical swing away from flowing Far Eastern curves towards a more hard-edges, retro-futuristic angular look. Sources say it doesn’t preview a specific model but is instead indicative of shapes to come.

Hyundai IONIQ Electric wheel rim

IONIQ Electric’s larger proportions are reminiscent of Toyota’s Prius

(Image credit: hyundai)

Hyundai IONIQ Electric electric charging

The hatchback makes its electric debut, and is also available in hybrid and petrol alternatives

(Image credit: hyundai)

Hyundai Kona Hybrid steering wheel

Hyundai’s Bluelink technology also features in the new Kona Hybrid, a surprising inclusion for a car in its price bracket

(Image credit: hyundai)

Hyundai Kona Hybrid cabin

Kona Hybrid is a modestly-sized crossover, featuring an exterior design akin to its previous iterations

(Image credit: hyundai)


Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.