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Hyundai planning fresh SUV onslaught

Crystal ball: Hyundai revealed the Carlino concpet at last year’s Delhi motor show, previewing a future compact SUV but it is unclear if this will for the basis of the forthcoming sub-Kona model.

Sub-Kona SUV and a Santa Fe-topping seven-seater flagship on Hyundai Aus wish-list

Hyundai logo12 Oct 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

HYUNDAI is preparing a pair of SUVs to top and tail its current range of offerings that includes the newly-released Kona, mid-sized Tucson and large Santa Fe, giving the car-maker one of the broadest model ranges in Australia.

The baby crossover is expected to surface sometime next year as a 2019 model and will sit beneath the Kona to give Hyundai entry into the $17,000 to $25,000 market currently occupied by the likes of the Suzuki Ignis.

Reportedly known internally as the ‘QX’, the sub-Kona small SUV is said to be a stylish and sporty crossover based on the company’s contemporary B-segment light-car/supermini.

In Hyundai’s case that might be the GB platform that also underpins the European-flavoured i20 hatch as well as the latest Kia Rio, among other vehicles.

According to reports out of India, Hyundai Motor India senior vice-president of marketing and sales, Rakesh Srivastava, all but confirmed late last year that a light SUV was in the pipeline, stating that “… below the (mainly China-market focused) Creta, there is a space there – a wide space – and we are equally looking forward towards having a very strong presence there”.

One company source said that if such a vehicle eventuates, Australia would be a priority due to its diminishing presence in the sub-$20,000 end of the market the i20’s European sourcing makes it too expensive to import into this country while the existing Accent that dates back to 2011 is long in the tooth and its replacement, revealed earlier this year, will also be too expensive to market here as it is only built in Mexico, Russia and India.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the SUV spectrum, a five-metre plus three-row family wagon is also under consideration, to give Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) a larger, roomier and more practical alternative to rivals as diverse as the Mazda CX-9 and the Toyota Prado in the $55,000 to $70,000 segment.

However, like the former, the South Korean-branded car is believed to be monocoque bodied rather than a ladder-frame chassis-based crossover, and might even be the replacement for the long-wheelbase version of the existing Santa Fe known in some markets as the Grand Santa Fe or Maxcruz.

Thought to be under development primarily for North America, Russia, the Middle East and China, this seven-seater SUV might even adopt the Vera Cruz nameplate instead, reviving a badge used from 2006 to 2012 on a similarly large vehicle derived from the original, separate-chassis Kia Sorento.

Whether it would merely be an extended version of the next-generation Santa Fe due to revealed next year, or a totally bespoke model, is not yet known.

One potential stumbling block for the big new three-row SUV is whether Hyundai decides to manufacture it in right-hand drive though it would be well received in Australia, volumes would still be a fraction of what the rest of the predominately left-hook markets would be, potentially making the expense and effort switching the drivetrain over economically unviable.

Other similarly sized rivals out of the USA, such as Volkswagen’s new Atlas as well as the Subaru Ascent, have been barred from our shores for the same reason.

While nobody at HMCA would discuss either of the SUV newcomers, public relations general manager, Bill Thomas, said a number of new developments were underway and that globally the car-maker was very busy.

“We’re introducing a number of SUVs”, is all that Mr Thomas would divulge, adding that HMCA would “definitely” put its hand up for any suitable offering if or when it would become available.

Watch this space…

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