Car News

Hyundai’s first ute spotted in testing

The upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz ute is already out on the open road testing overseas, but doubts continue to linger over local availability.

HYUNDAI’s UPCOMING SANTA Cruz ute has been spotted testing in South Korea, the first confirmed images of the brand’s soft-roader ute on public roads hitting the internet.

Published on South Korean blog AutoSpy, the heavily disguised model doesn’t give many hints as to what lurks underneath, however, Hyundai has already confirmed it will commence production of the model in 2021 at its updated Montgomery plant in Alabama.

But it won’t be a ladder-frame ute, and is unlikely for Australia – even though Hyundai Australia is in discussion about securing a right-hand drive version of the Santa Cruz.

Hyundai Santa Cruz prototype testing

From the image published, we can see the model seems to keep most of the shape of the 2015 Santa Cruz concept car, adopting Hyundai’s contemporary thin LED headlights and large grille fascia upfront. At the back is a short tray bed, fitting of a lifestyle ute though not very practical. Spec for the model is yet to be released but it is likely the ute will be based on a variation of the next-generation Tucson SUV’s monocoque chassis, which will be available in front and all-wheel drive and with a hybrid drivetrain.

While Hyundai Australia has previously said it is interested in the Santa Cruz, it told Practical Motoring earlier this year that its main focus has been lobbying for a suitable workhorse for this market – which is expected to launch here in the next five years.

“We’ve been very detailed in our request of what a competitive pickup for us would look like,” Hyundai told Practical Motoring.

“This is requirements from what it needs to do, this is the dimensions of the load bay, this is the what it needs to tow, etc.”

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae