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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Unibody Hyundai Santa Cruz spied, will serve as base for next Tucson

Concept’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine will be replaced in favour of the new 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol.

Locked in for unveiling next year, the production version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz has been spotted undergoing testing in South Korea ahead of its eagerly awaited debut.

Still decked-out in extensive layers of disguise, the snaps by Korean website, Auto Post, shows a similar silhouette to the concept (pictured) that bowed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit five years ago, with the just visible grille being derived from the Venue and the alloy wheel design seemingly from the new i20.

While it is already known that the Santa Cruz will ride on a unibody platform like its expected closest rival in North America, the Honda Ridgeline, Auto Post reports that its underpinnings will also serve as a base for the next generation Tucson in order to reduce costs, while the interior could take elements from the Palisade in spite of not having been seen.

The biggest change will however come underneath the bonnet where the concept’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine will be replaced in favour of the new 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol also used in the Optima and more recently, in the Hyundai Sonata and Genesis G80. Likely to be the range-topping powerunit with outputs still to be confirmed, the blown four-pot will be paired as standard to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

As has already been confirmed, the Santa Cruz will be a North American only model with production set to take place alongside the Elantra, Santa Fe and Sonata at the Montgomery Plant in Alabama. A separate model, utilising a traditional body-on frame platform and reportedly motivated by the 205kW/588Nm 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel from the Genesis GV80 SUV, will be offered in other markets, likely to include South Africa, from 2023.

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