This is the new Hyundai ute Australians want but can’t have as it’s a US-only model for now.
After spotting camouflaged cars during European winter testing earlier this year, the bare shell of the new Hyundai Santa Cruz pick-up has been caught on camera and posted on Instagram.
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The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a US-market pick-up based on the underpinnings of the Hyundai Santa Fe family SUV.
However, from what we’ve seen so far, we love it on looks alone.
The sharp creases in the bodywork show the Hyundai Santa Cruz will adopt the company’s new design language, which was also previewed on the Hyundai Vision T concept unveiled at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show – a pointer to the styling of the next Hyundai Tucson SUV.
The bodywork shown in the Instagram post shows Hyundai has moved the design on from the original concept car unveiled at the 2015 Detroit motor show (pictured below).
The Hyundai Santa Cruze concept had smoother surface design language inspired by the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV of the day, however that was five years ago.
The photos of the creased bodywork – and photos of camouflaged prototypes – show the Hyundai Santa Cruz is finally taking shape and likely in US showrooms either late this year or early next.
For now, it has been ruled out for Australia as it is intended to be a left-hand-drive model only.
Hyundai Australia will, however, get a heavy duty double cab ute to tackle the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger head-on.
But that model remains top secret and is likely several years away.
CarAdvice understands it will also yield a Kia double cab ute based on the same ladder frame architecture (rather than the SUV-based ute pictured below).
We interpret that to mean it’s so secret and so far away they are too scared to acknowledge its existence.
However, their reaction also acknowledges the existence of – or planning for – such a ute, so we’ll take that as an unofficial “yes, it’s coming, but can you ask again in a couple of years?”.
When the heavy duty Hyundai and Kia double-cab utes do eventually arrive, they will have big shoes to fill.
Vehicles such as the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and Isuzu D-Max are among the hardest to build on a budget as they have the broadest range of capabilities and yet must be sharply priced for developing countries.
To be successful in Australia, such vehicles must have five-star safety, car-like creature comforts, SUV driving dynamics, serious off-road ability, be able to carry a tonne, and tow 3.5 tonnes.
No other vehicles – not even the full size pick-ups in the US – need to cover such a vast range of abilities at such relatively affordable prices.
As the last into the booming ute market, Hyundai and Kia will need to be best dressed.
For all its abilities and technical know-how, even Mercedes-Benz, the inventor of the automobile, couldn’t survive in the cut-throat ute market.