The Hyundai Creta revealed in Chennai, India today won't come to Australia, according to company sources. Instead, we will get the sportier European-focused equivalent to be launched inside two years.
Nevertheless, the 'global' only goes so far, and our source tells us Hyundai Australia is likely to wait for the expected third iteration of the sub-compact SUV designed for various other markets. The as-yet unseen third baby SUV in Hyundai’s global arsenal is expected to appear in 18-24 months time.
It will be inspired by the Intrado concept (pictured below) unveiled at the 2014 Geneva motor show, be targeted at the likes of the funky Nissan Juke, and be made in the existing Hyundai Turkey or Hyundai Czech Republic plants.
The latter plant has produced numerous cars for Hyundai Australia already, including some versions of the new Tucson due next month, which is slightly growing in size over the ix35 and therefore making the need for a baby SUV all the more important.
The former plant is more problematic, since currency flows make its wares hard to price right — attested to by Hyundai’s continued battle to bring the new i20 (pictured below) here to replace the ageing but still-popular current version. We understand the mission to bring that car to Australia is on the ropes.
The apparent decision not to bring the Creta does not appear to be down to a complete lack of specs or safety (as it was with the Indian-version of the new i20). As we know, features available on the Indian-made Creta include a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, LED driving lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, push-button start, electric folding wing mirrors, rear air vents, a reversing camera, hill-start assist and six airbags.
Hyundai has also imported cars for Australia from India before, as with the current i20. It simply appears Hyundai Australia is willing to wait for the most suitable product (which we believe it hopes to badge ix25, if its Korean parent allows it to). It's just the staggered rollout and the lack of a singular global car that seems unusual.
In India, the Creta will be offered with a 90kW 1.6-litre Gamma four-cylinder petrol engine, or a 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre turbo-diesel. The latter has 94kW of power against its name, and be paired to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The ix25, as sold in China, is also offered with a 118kW/192Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine, optioned up with all-wheel drive.
The expected decision to wait up to two years for this Euro-focused baby SUV could cause some short-term pain for Hyundai. The new Tucson that launches next month will be a larger car than the outgoing ix35, creating an ever larger gap in Hyundai’s local range.
A rival for the Holden Trax, Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, is an obvious requirement, given it’s one of Australia’s fastest-growing vehicle segments and one played in by a growing number of major manufacturers – Toyota notably excepted.
Today’s news echoes comments from Hyundai Australia chief operating officer John Elsworth, who told us in April that the new baby SUV remained a few years away from fruition. But that was before we saw or even knew of the Creta.
The addition of new models to net incremental sales is important for fourth-placed Hyundai if it wants to keep up with top importer Mazda.