Even though this spy image does not show a completed, road-ready example of Hyundai's upcoming, US-built double cab, the side profile of the body reveals cues carried over from the Santa Cruz concept as well as the Korean manufacturer's new "parametric dynamics" in the bakkie's sheet metal...
Picture credits: Motor1.com, with additional photographs by S. Baldauf/SB-Medien. Render by Duwyne Aspeling, Cars.co.za.
It's commonly known that Hyundai plans to commence production of its new double-cab at its Alabama plant in the USA, which also produces the Santa Fe, Sonata, and Elantra, next year. Most reports suggest that the Korean manufacturer is committed to bringing the Santa Cruz name to market and the newcomer will be a unibody vehicle and sold exclusively in the North American market.
The triangular cutout at the end of the load bay suggests a controversial kicked-up rear-bumper treatment...
However, it has been reported (by Which Car) that Hyundai is simultaneously developing a 1-tonne bakkie based on a ladder-frame chassis (in partnership with its sister-brand, Kia) for Australia and other markets, which will likely include South Africa – which is, as we know, a major market for bakkies. Hyundai South Africa has never hidden the fact that it would be very keen to introduce a leisure double-cab in South Africa – if one was available to us and at all possible; if little else, this new "Santa Cruz" will probably set the tone for the look of upcoming Hyundai chassis-cab bakkies...
The photo, which was shared anonymously with Motor1.com, confirms a couple of cues that we had already incorporated in our rendering of the new bakkie. The newcomer will have a short load bed and rearward-sloping C-pillars. However, the upward-sloping rear window sills, which create a kind of Hofmeister kink (with apologies to BMW) has been unexpectedly carried over from the 2015 concept car. What's more, the distinctive contours near the top of the front door and pinched beltline (just above where the side skirts/running boards would be located on the finished product) suggest that there are also elements of "parametric dynamics" (radiating lines that converge at a central point) of the "Sensuous Sportiness" design language incorporated in most new Hyundai models.
We expect the bold grille and slimline headlamp treatment to feature on the final version of the "Santa Cruz".
We have also seen spy photographs of a prototype testing in the snow (see below) and while most of the body is hidden from sight, there are some noteworthy learnings to be gleaned from the spy images. Perhaps the most obvious feature is indeed the large, bold cascading grille which will likely be flanked by slim LED headlights. It's also clear that the fog light bezels will sit directly below the headlight casings. Another intriguing design feature is the sloping load bay design, which bears some resemblance to our render above.
The 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept was given the green light for production as long ago as 2017. While the production version of the bakkie won't be a rival to the wildly popular full-size Ford F-150, it will effectively be a stylish medium-sized bakkie to rival the likes of the ever-popular Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger; like the top-spec versions of those well-known leisure bakkies, it will be a 5-seater family car, but won't have workhorse ability. Car And Driver believes the finished product will share its underpinnings with the Santa Fe 7-seater SUV in our market: "Hyundai's plan for the Santa Cruz is as an affordable... choice for drivers who haul bulky, but not necessarily heavy items – think mountain bikes, kayaks, and camping gear rather than gravel, boats, and cinder blocks."
Spy images reveal some of the key design cues that are likely to feature on the production Hyundai bakkie.
Rumours about the engine line-up
Previously, we reported that Hyundai's luxury car brand, Genesis, revealed its GV80 premium SUV, which is powered by a 3.0-litre, 6-cylinder turbodiesel engine with 205 kW and 588 Nm of torque. A report from Australia's CarSales suggested that the Hyundai bakkie could very well feature this engine.
In an interview at the launch of the GV80, Head of R&D at Hyundai, Albert Bierman, said "This engine... we can have so many applications. We make also commercial vehicles and so on, so this engine will be out there for quite some time."
Now that we've seen the spy image, the high-tailgate design of the upcoming bakkie looks more apparent.
However, Car And Driver suggests that the "Santa Cruz" is more likely to feature the new Santa Fe's engines, which includes a 137 kW/241 Nm naturally-aspirated 2.4-litre petrol engine and a turbocharged, 175 kW/352 Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, both fitted in conjunction with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Perhaps even the current 142 kW/440 Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that does service in the SA-spec Santa Fe would be a suitable match in the production Hyundai bakkie. It's also been speculated that the Hyundai bakkie will be offered in 4WD guise only.
More than this, there are rumours that Hyundai’s N Division could very well develop a high-performance bakkie that would rival the Ford Ranger Raptor. There is speculation that this N bakkie could feature the same potent, turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that powers the i30N and could offer as much as 225 kW!
It's not often that a concept vehicle (let alone a 5-year-old one) looks this production-ready. No crew-cab doors in the final version, though.
Meanwhile, apart from suggesting that Hyundai would offer 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive variants of the upcoming 1-tonne double-cab (as opposed to the one produced in the US), Hyundai Australia CEO, John Kett commented: “What’s clear to us is that if we’re going to bring a ute out, it had better be a ute. We’ve got past the first hurdle of what it needs to look like, but it needs to be functional as well. That’s the important part. We’re going down that pathway and we’re working towards it. We just have to make sure that when it arrives, it’s a bloody ute.”
“We’re looking at a range. When you cut up the ute market, you split it up between 4x4 and 4x2, who owns 4x2 and what powertrain goes with that and then 4x4 crew cab versus cab/chassis and so on… we want to be smart about it and that’s what we’re going through at the moment,” he added.