The company's new ute, aimed primarily at the North American market, has been spied wearing a production-intent body for the first time.
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A prototype of Hyundai Santa Cruz, the company's upcoming car-based ute, has been spied for the first time – but Australian availability has yet to be confirmed.

This photo was posted online overnight by Korean website Autospy. It's unclear who took the picture, or where it was taken.

Unlike the 2015 concept car (below), which featured large front doors and small reverse-hinged rear doors, the production Santa Cruz will have four standard-size apertures.

This cabin setup should result in more interior space, but the resulting tray seems to be on the small side. Although the prototype is covered quite thoroughly, it does seem to have edgier styling than the softer forms seen on the 2015 concept.

Reports indicate the Santa Cruz will be based on the next-generation Tucson crossover, which is due out next year. Judging by proximity of the front wheels to the leading edge of the front doors, the prototype ute does look to be based on a front- and all-wheel drive architecture.

Earlier this year, Hyundai confirmed the Santa Cruz will go into production at its factory in Alabama from 2021. When it enters American showrooms, the Santa Cruz will have no natural competitors in the market place.

The only other car-based ute available in the United States and Canada is the larger Honda Ridgeline, which is based on the Toyota Kluger-class Pilot crossover.

Given its Tucson underpinnings, the Santa Cruz should also be smaller than "mid-size" pickup trucks available there, such as the Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.

It's unclear if the Santa Cruz will be sold in Australia. When asked about the vehicle last month, Hyundai Australia told CarAdvice: "We look at the suitability of all international products for the Australian market and Santa Cruz is no different, we are currently studying the business case".