Name, not a num­ber

The Advertiser - Motoring - - NEWS - RICHARD BLACK­BURN

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

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