Name, not a number
HYUNDAI will launch a new global mini-SUV next month, based on the ix25 made for Chinese markets.
The oddly named Creta, a rival for the new Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, is made in India and was initially thought to be for that market only.
But using a name rather than the alphanumeric ix25 indicates a global car that could come to Australia.
The news appears to have caught the local Hyundai operation by surprise. Chief operating officer John Elsworth had previously dismissed the car because it would achieve only a four-star crash safety rating and would be aimed at low-cost Asian markets.
Hyundai Australia had planned to wait for a Europeanbuilt mini-SUV based on its Intrado concept from last year’s Geneva motor show but that car is believed to be at least two years away.
Head office may pressure Australia to plug the hole in its line-up with the Creta, given the early sales success of the CX-3 and HR-V and the fact that it could bring the Creta in at a much sharper price than the European SUV.
Hyundai Australia spokesman Bill Thomas is noncommittal about the Creta. “It’s too early for us to comment about whether it will come here,” he says.
Hyundai’s ix35 will be replaced by a larger model (renamed the Tucson) later this year, which will leave the company without a contender in the compact SUV class.
Earlier this year, Elsworth told Carsguide the company didn’t expect to have a replacement mini-SUV in the near future. “We won’t have a small SUV for two or three years,” he says. “When we move from ix35 to Tucson in quarter three we won’t have a vehicle in that segment.
“We’re waiting for the global SUV, which is a different car. Look at the Intrado.”
Despite the confusion, there’s no doubt Hyundai is keen to cater for this segment.
“Hyundai’s famous for small cars,” Elsworth says. “It’s where the brand was built from so it’s not a stretch at all to offer a small SUV. It fits really well with the brand, it’s just having the availability of the car.”
Elsworth says there is a danger a small SUV will take sales away from its top-selling i30 hatch and Elantra small sedan — Mazda3 and Honda Civic sales have dropped with the arrival of the CX-3 and HRV respectively — but it’s a risk that needs to be taken.
“People will get out of an i30, a Corolla or a Mazda3 and into a small SUV,” Elsworth says. “Is it robbing Peter to pay Paul? Maybe. But if you’re not there, then you just lose share.”
In other words, you’d be a cretin to ignore it.
New frontiers: Hyundai’s ix25 and, above left, Intrado concept