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by Matt Campbell

The baby SUV market is booming, but it’ll be a “number of years” before Hyundai enters the fastest growing segment in Australia.

Sales of small SUVs are up 30.6 per cent so far in 2015, with the likes of the recently introduced Honda HR-V and new Mazda CX-3 both shining strongly in the sub-$40K small SUV segment.

Despite an anomaly that sees the ix35 categorised in the same segment by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries’ VFACTS reporting, the brand doesn’t have a true player in that part of the market. Such a vehicle would slot below the current ix35 (which will soon be replaced by the Tucson pictured above).

Hyundai Australia chief operating officer John Elsworth said at this week’s launch that the brand would “love” to be able to offer such a model, but there’s simply not a viable production-ready offering that would address our market’s needs.

hyundai-ix25-1

“We’d love one, but we don’t have one,” Elsworth said.

“So we need to make do with the product lines that we’ve got, and we won’t have a small SUV for a couple of years. Two or three years,” he said.

When asked about the Hyundai ix25 – a car designed for China that has been adapted for other developing markets, pictured in the images above – Elsworth said it wasn’t an option.

“The issue is that car was specifically designed for China as a left-hand drive vehicle. It will be produced in India, as a right-hand drive vehicle,” he confirmed.

hyundai-ix25-2

“But as far as we’re aware, that will not meet the safety standards that are a minimum for our business for new cars. Which is five-star [NCAP crash test rating],” he said.

When asked if there was something in the pipeline out of other areas of the business, the answer was negative.

“There isn’t anything else out of South Korea,” he said.

“We are waiting for the global SUV, which is a different car to the [ix25].”

Hyundai Intrado Concept - 1

With sales of small SUVs booming, it’s not unexpected to see that traditional small cars – such as the i30, and the second best-selling model in Australia, the Mazda 3, aren’t hitting as strong a stride in 2015.

Indeed, small car sales are down 7.1 per cent so far in 2015 compared to the same time last year.

Elsworth suggested there is clear evidence that smaller SUVs are starting to suck sales away from the more conventional options.

“That’s what’s happening in the market. The small segment is basically flat and what’s growing is baby SUVs,” he said. “The blurring of the segments, the traditional segments, continues everyday.

Hyundai Intrado Concept - 2

“People consider a small SUV a small car. So some of them provide a little more functionality for [buyers] – maybe it’s style, maybe it’s the high ride height. The simple fact is there’s an amazing amount of choice for people.

The future baby SUV from Hyundai is set to be heavily influenced by the brand’s Intrado concept crossover, which debuted at the 2014 Geneva motor show.




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