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Hyundai switches back to Tucson

New for old: Hyundai's next-generation compact SUV – to be revealed at next month's Geneva motor show – will return the Tucson nameplate to Australia after a five-year absence.

Name change for Hyundai's top-selling SUV to Tucson following global decision

Hyundai logo4 Feb 2015

HYUNDAI is returning to the Tucson name in a bid to retain its iron grip on the booming small-SUV segment, with its next-generation crossover set to debut at next month's Geneva motor show.

On sale in Australia in August, the new-gen Tucson will replace the ix35 name in a turnaround of the 2009 decision to adopt a European badge policy of letters and numerals.

Hyundai Australia general manager public relations Bill Thomas told GoAuto the return to a name, rather than a letter-number sequence, is a move by Hyundai globally.

This strategy will be seen again next week with the Sonata name again applied to the company’s mid-size sedan, effectively replacing the mechanically related i45 that was discontinued in early 2013.

The next Tucson is a vital cog in Hyundai Australia’s market share and Mr Thomas said the 2015 version will be more refined than the existing ix35.

“The important areas of change for the Tucson will be in interior design and NVH,’’ he said.

But he added that it is “too early’’ to discuss drivetrain options, pricing and volume expectations.

“It will be built in two factories – Czech Republic and Korea – and both will be available in Australia,’‘ he said. “That’s the arrangement we have with the current ix35.

“Simply it was the only way we could get the volume to suit the demand in Australia. Getting access to the Czech plant doubled our sales (with the ix35).”

The ix35 is currently Australia’s most popular small SUV, dominating sales of the highly competitive segment with 1636 units shifted for a 25 per cent share in January this year. Its nearest rival is the Mitsubishi ASX with a 13.3 per cent share, or 869 sales for the month.

Last year Hyundai sold almost 18,000 examples of the ix35 for a calendar-year market share of 22 per cent.

The ix35 is priced from $26,990, plus on-road costs as a petrol front-wheel drive and from $38,590 as an all-wheel drive diesel. While it is not yet confirmed, the same drivetrain mix is expected to continue with the Tucson.

The new Tucson, styled by the design head of both Hyundai and Kia, Peter Schreyer, follows the styling cues of the larger Santa Fe. To debut at the Geneva motor show in March, the Tucson shares its sibling's large chrome grille and slim-line headlights, wedged profile and narrow side glass.

While it will be bigger than the current-gen ix35, it is unlikely the new Tucson will offer seven seats.

Speaking with GoAuto at last year’s New York motor show, Mr Schreyer said Hyundai styling would become more “mature’’ while Kia would be designed as “sporty’’.

The split indicated that Hyundai would become a conservatively-styled range but the Santa Fe – and now the Tucson – show that Mr Schreyer is willing to challenge traditional interpretations of SUVs.

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Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.