Speaking exclusively to CarAdvice at this weekend's 2016 World Rally Championship (WRC) Rally Australia event in Coffs Harbour, Hyundai Australia public relations manager Guido Schenken confirmed the new model’s launch timeline, saying the car (pictured above and below) will play a key role in the coming year.
“Launching in 2017 – a big car, an important car for us – is our small SUV, and that’ll be in the second half of the year,” Schenken said.
“And that gives us a car in a very fast-growing segment at the moment, to compete with the likes of the Mazda CX-3. So, that’s a very exciting car for us.”
Set to fill the small SUV-void created when the second-generation ix35 was succeeded by the all-new mid-size Tucson back in July 2015, Hyundai’s new compact SUV – spied last month testing in Europe – will likely feature i20-based underpinnings, and front- and four-wheel-drive options.
And although, year-to-date, the small SUV segment is actually down 1.7 per cent on 2015 – despite total SUV sales being up 9.4 per cent year-on-year – new contenders, such as the Toyota C-HR, continue to make their way into the space.
“This new car will be a much smaller brother of the current Tucson,” Schenken said of the upcoming, but as-yet-unrevealed model, adding, “Australians love their SUVs, and we see no reason why the segment won’t continue to boom, and grow bigger and bigger.”
Somewhat strangely, while the second-generation ix35 was only 30mm shorter than the third-generation Kia Sportage with which it shared its platform, the Sportage is categorised by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) as a medium SUV, while the ix35 fell into the small-SUV bracket. Although details such as dimensions, engines, and transmissions are all yet to be announced for the new SUV, any such nuances are unlikely to be repeated.
What do you think? Will the popularity of SUVs continue to increase, or are people tiring of them? Let us know in the comments section below.