The South Korean brand's director of global public relations, Frank Ahrens, told CarAdvice Hyundai’s smallest SUV would be built on an all-new light-car-sized B-segment platform in a brand-new factory in Brazil, which opens later this year.
“We’re going to start with a little five-door hatch – we’re codenaming it HB – then there’ll be a four-door sedan, same B-segment, and then there’ll be a little SUV,” Ahrens said.
“It’s pretty cute, I have to say, and it’s smaller than Tucson [ix35].”
“If that works there – and I think it will be pretty popular in Latin America – we’ll export it throughout Latin America and take a look at other markets around the world.”
While the sub-compact SUV has been designed specifically for the Brazilian market, Ahrens said Hyundai would not cut corners on quality or safety.
“It will have the same high safety crash standards," he said. "It will have surprising amenities that you don’t expect. We don’t want our features to be just in the highest model, we want them to be in the bottom.
“So, no, it will be as good as a Sonata [i45] only in its own class, I can guarantee that, because the truth of it is if you want to raise your brand you’ve got to raise every car in your brand.”
Hyundai Motor Europe senior vice president Allan Rushforth told CarAdvice his division was also in the process of looking at a B-segment SUV for the European market.
“I was reviewing a proposal on Monday before I left, so we’re very much in the thought process around B-segment SUVs,” Rushforth said.
“It’s a segment that will develop… You’ve got Nissan Juke in there at the moment, Skoda Yeti, and then there’s probably three new products next year, so it’ll develop.”
Ford unveiled the Fiesta-based EcoSport sub-compact SUV at the New Delhi auto expo in January and will launch that car in Australia in mid 2013. Peugeot took the wraps off its Mitsubishi ASX-based 4008 at last month's Geneva motor show alongside the Barina-based Opel Mokka, which will share its basic design with a small Chevrolet SUV and potentially a Holden version, too.
He said Hyundai was weighing up what form the car should take in Europe, suggesting it may not fit the small SUV mould as we know it.
“At the moment we have [Kia] Venga and the ix20 which are … very similar B-segment MPVs in two brands, and then there’s an emerging B-segment SUV. I think, ‘What’s the product going to look like that sort of spans that segment?’
“That’s the consideration we’re having at the moment, and that could result in just about anything.”
“If you can offer people a stylish B-segment SUV with more utility, I think that’s probably where the real mass of the market is.”
Rushforth said no decision had been made on when the vehicle would launch in Europe, but expects the production model to hit showrooms “very quickly” after a decision has been made.
Hyundai has toyed with B-segment SUVs and MPVs in concept form in recent years. The Hyundai ix-onic concept (pictured) previewed a sub-compact SUV design at the 2009 Geneva motor show, while earlier this year at the New Delhi show, the Hyundai Hexa Space showcased a taller, narrower design with room for seven occupants.