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Could this be the perfect electric ute for Australia? Hyundai's XRT Pro will put the hurt on your Ford Ranger Raptor or Toyota HiLux GR Sport | Opinion

Hyundai appears to be cooking up Australia's toughest EV ute. (Image: Thanos Pappas)

Fresh off resetting the benchmark for electric car performance with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, the South Korean brand now appears ready to do the same with electric utes, with rumours of a hardcore XRT Pro version of its incoming EV dual-cab swirling.

Sister brand Kia is preparing to launch its Tasman ute with four-cylinder diesel power next year , which is inching closer to its official reveal, but Hyundai is sticking to an EV-only offering with its trucks in Australia.

Far from being an urban offering with soft-road ambitions, intel suggests the model could actually be the brand's toughest ever, with a Ranger Raptor-rivalling flagship to wear the XRT Pro badge.

International reports now point to Hyundai readying two electric pickups for sale, the Ioniq T7 and Ioniq T10, with the former reportedly a smaller, Santa Cruz-style offering, and the latter a larger model somewhere between a Ford Ranger and a Ford F-150.

The brand has applied to trademark both models in Australia, along with the "XRT" and "XRT Pro" badges.

We got our first peek when last year's Santa Fe XRT concept was unveiled. It offers more than just a tougher look, with a lift kit, 30-inch all-terrain rubber, underbody protection, a rough-stuff-ready cargo carrier, exterior cargo boxes, a roof-mounted spare tyre and exterior off-road cameras all fitted.

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT concept gives us a glimpse of the brand's tough off-roader ambitions.

Now the brand is preparing to show us what to expect from its more off-road-focused electric models, with what appears to be an Ioniq 5 XRT spotted testing overseas, with a higher ride height, body cladding and a redesigned front treatment, presumably for better ground clearance.

Hyundai in Australia won't be drawn on exactly what the XRT and XRT Pro models will apply to, CarsGuide understands they will offer distinct levels of off-road performance.

Vehicles adorned with the XRT badge will offer mostly cosmetic updates, while XRT Pro will deliver new hardware and equipment to significantly improve off-road ability. Think of it as an off-road answer to Toyota's GR Sport and GR, or Mercedes' AMG Line and AMG.

The Santa Fe XRT concept went further than just cosmetic upgrades with plenty of hardcore off-road gear added.

Doubt Hyundai on this at your peril. When the brand announced plans for a Ioniq 5 N, few expected the model to be the game-changing EV benchmark it surely is.

So if you're of the belief that electric utes can't be tough, I'd suggest you prepare to have your mind changed...

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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