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2021 Hyundai Bayon breaks cover to explore the urban jungle

Hyundai expanded its global range of crossovers and SUVs with a city-friendly soft-roader called Bayon. Named after Bayonne, a town near the Atlantic in France’s Basque Country, it’s the firm’s smallest crossover in Europe.

The Bayon stretches 164 inches long, 70 inches wide, and 59 inches tall, dimensions that make it about five inches longer and three inches lower than the Venue sold in the United States. It moves the company’s design language forward with a sharp-looking design that’s not merely a copy of a bigger model. It wears a look of its own that’s defined by a wide grille, three-part headlights integrated into the air intakes, and boomerang-shaped rear lights. 

Its back end is a bag of design tricks. Pushing the lights as far out as possible is a way to emphasize the Bayon’s width, while painting the middle part of the hatch black reduces visual mass. It looks wider and shorter than it is.

Inside, the Bayon proves entry-level isn’t necessarily a byword for cheap. While base models rolling on steel wheels and plastic hubcaps are more rental car-spec than upmarket, more expensive trim levels benefit from big-car features like a digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. LED ambient lighting, a wireless charging pad, and a Bose sound system are found on the list of extra-cost options, too.

European buyers will have several engine options to choose from. Entry-level models come with a 1.2-liter four-cylinder that sends 84 horsepower to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. Up next is a 100-horsepower, 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder offered with or without a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Buyers can stick with the standard six-speed stick or pay extra for a seven-speed automatic. Range-topping models get a 120-horse evolution of the triple with mild hybrid technology and either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic.

Hyundai stressed it developed the Bayon specifically for the European market, and nothing suggests the crossover will be sold on our side of the pond, though we’ve reached out to the company to be sure. When it lands, it will compete in a booming segment of the market against the second-generation Nissan Juke, the Renault Captur, the Volkswagen T-Roc, and the Citroën C3 Aircross, among other models. None of its main rivals are sold in America.

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