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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Next generation Hyundai Santa Cruz could become a world model

In contrast to the incoming Kia Tasman, the Santa Cruz rides on a unibody platform and makes sole use of a range of petrol engines.

With sister brand Kia in the final stages of development of its body-on-frame Tasman bakkie, Hyundai’s sole offering, the unibody Santa Cruz, has reportedly been sighted at a dealer conference in Australia, albeit not in its current generation guise.

Two model confusion

Unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit three years ago as Hyundai’s first lifestyle bakkie, the Santa Cruz debuted a number of revisions in March this year at the New York International Auto Show as part of its first mid-life facelift.

ALSO READ: Out and forbidden: Hyundai Santa Cruz officially revealed

Different not only in underpinnings from the Tasman but also on the power front where a normally aspirated or turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine provides propulsion, the Santa Cruz had long rumoured for markets outside North America since its unveiling, with Australia being a key driver.

Right-hand-drive Hyundai Santa Cruz could happen
Part of the update included the addition of a slightly more rugged trim level called the XRT. Image: Hyundai

Despite the emergence of spy images five years ago showing a supposed body-on-frame Hyundai bakkie undergoing testing, attention has moved back to the Santa Cruz as it appears that the former may have been scrapped.

Branded a world model in 2019 mounted on a body-on-frame platform – a role seemingly occupied by the Tasman only as a possible way of avoiding product overlapping or rebadging – carsguide.com.au reports the mentioned dealer showing involved a vehicle called the Tucson Ute.

Next gen only?

Part of an exhibition previewing apparent forthcoming models over the next 24 months, the publication claims there could be the second generation Santa Cruz, suggesting it instead of the ‘cancelled’ body-on-frame model will become a global product with left-hand-drive or right-hand-drive.

One of Hyundai’s biggest sellers in the States, where it rivals the runaway segment leading Ford Maverick and Honda Ridgeline, the projected debut of the second generation Santa Cruz in 2026 could see it become a spy shot reality next year given the length of real world testing before the commencing of sales.

Right-hand-drive Hyundai Santa Cruz could happen
Interior is a mix of Hyundai and its upscale premium brand, Genesis. Image: Hyundai

Asked directly about the Tucson Ute, which, as its name states will ride on the likely architecture of the next generation Tucson SUV, Hyundai Australia General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Bill Thomas, merely told the publication, “We look at every model that might be suitable”.

As it stands, details surrounding the Santa Cruz/Tucson Ute remain unknown. However, don’t be surprised if information does become apparent before the end of the year either as more speculative claims or pre-production testing images.

NOW READ: Almost South Africa certain Kia Tasman shows itself in first teasers

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