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Hyundai mini-SUV undergoes local testing

Uppercut: Hyundai’s local wing is working on importing the Palisade upper-large SUV, however the eight-seater is currently only built for left-hand-drive markets.

Sub-Kona ‘QX’ small SUV nears launch as upper-large Palisade business case firms

21 Mar 2019

HYUNDAI Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is testing its forthcoming sub-Kona SUV, code-named ‘QX’, which will go on sale in the second half of this year. 
The South Korean brand has been quiet on details, however it is expected that the new model will make its public debut at next month’s New York motor show, and has been rumoured to carry the Styx nameplate.
It is believed that the baby SUV will share componentry with the next-generation Accent hatchback, and use a front-drive-only platform, offered with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine.
Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Hyundai Kona Electric this month, HMCA senior manager of product planning Andrew Tuitahi confirmed that the yet-to-be-revealed model is entering its final tuning phase, and that the company is in negotiations with its head office in South Korea about engineering the all-new Palisade upper-large SUV for right-hand drive.
“We’ve just finalised our initial setup, and that means the car will arrive in Sydney ready for a final local tune, with spring and stabiliser bars set, and a damper tune that is a really good baseline for us to tackle our roads and do some fine tuning,” he said.
Mr Tuitahi said that while the brand always tries to make its models perform dynamically, the focus for the suspension and steering tune is primarily on ride comfort and safety.
“We like to think that all of our cars are handlers, but it’s not our priority, and it’s certainly not the first target on the list.
“First and foremost, our cars must be comfortable and safe, and then maybe surprisingly agile, so when you do escape the city and begin to explore the limits of the car and have fun, it should be a delight rather than being a car that tells you to slow down or back off. 
“You should be able to engage with your car.”
Hyundai’s current SUV stable has an answer for most segments, with its Kona taking small SUV duties, while the Tucson competes in the mid-size category, and the Santa Fe services large SUV customers.
According to Mr Tuitahi, the company hopes to attract would-be light car customers with the upcoming QX.
“Bringing (the QX) to market will be similar to the way the Kona complements the i30, or an Elantra buyer, functioning as the SUV alternative to those cars.
“Perhaps the QX will suit a light car buyer, and be an alternative to an Accent or a competitors car like the Toyota Yaris or Mazda2.
“In terms of height, utility and storage space, it’s definitely referencing SUVs – the styling too – it’s an interesting entrance for us.”
Mr Tuitahi admitted that the QX is not the first ultra-small SUV to market, mentioning competitor models like the Holden Trax, Ford EcoSport and Suzuki Ignis, but said that it will provide a strong entry for customers into the Hyundai brand.
“There are a few really small SUVs around like the Trax, EcoSport, Ignis, so I don’t think we’ll be first in that space, but we’ll have a good offering.
“With the trend towards SUVs, people wanting that ride height, the visibility, the more upright practicality, it’s a good entry point to get into the brand if you’re looking for an SUV.
Asked if the company would like to import the Palisade upper-large SUV to Australia, Mr Tuitahi said it is working on a business case, and believes it would be a strong suit for the local market with its eight-seat format, and both petrol and diesel powertrain options.
“We’d love one,” he said. “At the moment it’s only made in left-hand drive, but we’re putting together a business case and we’ve been talking to head office, and we are looking at what we can do to get that car made in right-hand drive.
“We’re looking at what developments would be required, what the costs would be, and seeing how we could amortise it over our volume and maybe in some other right-hand-drive markets.
“We see a really good opportunity there, and it would be a really nice way to round out our SUV offering.”

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