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"We're interested in the Santa Cruz": How Hyundai's mini-HiLux is still a chance for Australia

Hyundai's Santa Cruz is yet to be officially ruled out for Australia. (image credit: AtchaCars)

Don't put a nail in the Santa Cruz's Australian coffin just yet, with the brand confirming its interest in the pint-sized ute as a "niche" product for our market.

Now, it must be said, that's far from a confirmation, and Hyundai is quick to point out that the Santa Cruz is not currently available in right-hand drive. But it also marks a shift in the way the brand talks about the "lifestyle" ute, which was originally ruled out for Oz.

"We're interested in that vehicle, for sure," a Hyundai spokesperson told us this week.

"We've explore all options we can with all products that are in the market, which is something we do as a discipline.

"For Santa Cruz, it's certainly a niche product, but I think it would be an interesting offering. There are impressive powertrain options, it looks like it would be a capable car here, but at this point it's not available in right-hand drive."

That said, the Santa Cruz is far from a sure starter in Australia. It's understood the brand has no immediate plan to look at launching the Santa Cruz. The cost is understood to be an issue, with the innevitable sticker price thought to be a barrier.

But it's also worth pointing out that left-hand-drive production is no guarantee a vehicle won't appear in our market.

Take the Hyundai Palisade as a case-in-point, with the premium-feeling eight-seat SUV originally offered with the steering wheel on the wrong side for Australia, before a concerted campaign by Hyundai here saw right-hand-drive production introduced. As a result, the Palisade will land in Australian dealerships from December.


According to international reports, the Santa Cruz will arrive with a choice between a 2.4-litre petrol and turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, both borrowed from the US-spec Santa Fe, and both paired with an eight-speed gearbox and AWD.

If those numbers prove correct, the Santa Cruz would deliver some 137kW and 241Nm in 2.4-litre guise, and a considerable 175kW and 352Nm with the 2.0-litre turbo engine.

Will it come to Australia? Watch this space.

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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