Hyundai's new global compact SUV, the Creta, has been officially revealed as production starts up in Chennai, India.
As predicted, it's externally identical to the Chinese-market ix25 that went on sale last year. The engine lineup - at least for India - is different with a 1.6 litre turbo diesel 1.4 diesel and 1.6 litre petrol offered, rather than the Chinese-market's 2.0 litre petrol.
The 1.6 petrol engine pushes out 90kW of power and is mated to a six-speed manual, while the 1.6 diesel makes 94kW and comes with the option of a six speed manual or a six speed auto gearbox.
Hyundai makes no mention of the 1.4 diesel's power output or transmission options.
For Indian buyers, the Creta appears well-specced. Integrated sat-nav with a five-inch touchscreen display is offered, as are a smart key with push-button starter, 1GB music hard drive, rear air conditioning outlets, 17-inch alloy wheels and leather upholstery.
Safety equipment levels are also far from third-world, with six airbags, a reversing camera, ABS and stability control available.
Though Hyundai has billed the Creta as a global nameplate, the new SUV has yet to be locked in for an Australian release.
Safety concerns prevented Hyundai Australia from taking the Chinese-built ix25, but it's unclear whether the Indian-assembled Creta boasts enough structural differences to make it safe enough for our market.
The new-generation i20 that's built in India has been vetoed for Australia due to substandard crash safety, though the Creta is obviously a different beast.
What is clear, however, is that Hyundai will soon have an ix35-shaped gap to fill in its local lineup.
The ix35 will be replaced at the end of July by the mid-size Tucson (above), leaving Hyundai Australia without an offering in the increasingly-important small SUV segment. The Creta - or something like it - would slot in there nicely.
But if not the Creta, then what? Insiders say a Europe-specific compact/small SUV based on the Intrado concept may be in development, and it's that car that could find its way to Australia instead of the Indian-made Creta.
Until then, however, local Chief Operating Officer John Elsworth says Hyundai Australia "won’t have a small SUV for a number of years". Watch this space.
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