Thursday , 13 December 2018
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Hyundai to launch entry-level SUV

The Indian SUV market has grown by multiple folds over the past few years, and carmakers like Maruti and Hyundai have successfully captured the lower end of the market with offerings like the Brezza and the Creta.

Now, Hyundai, is planning to further strengthen its position in the small SUV space in India by introducing a new entry-level SUV. Recently, the company managing director, Y K Koo, said, “we are going to be strengthening our SUV portfolio both below and above Creta.”

“The QXi and Micro SUV can address the affordable end of the market. We also want to retain our existing Creta customers who will be looking for an upgrade going ahead, and we will not allow these customers to go to the competition.”

The entry-level SUV might, however, not launch before 2020. The company already has the sub-4m SUV QXi lined up for April 2019. The QXi, which is touted to be based on the Carlino concept and will rival the likes of the Vitara Brezza and EcoSport, will be followed by an electric SUV — the Kona Electric — in the second half of 2019.

The carmaker has a total of eight products lined up until 2020, all of which are either new nameplates or new generation of existing products. One can also expect some models to get minor updates in between.

The entry-level SUV segment in India is still non-existent. We do have the SUV-inspired cars like the Renault Kwid, Maruti Suzuki Ignis and Mahindra KUV100, but while these cars do possess some SUV traits, those are purely cosmetic.

Maruti Suzuki showcased the Future-S concept at the 2018 Auto Expo and revealed its intent to offer an entry-level SUV in India around 2020. The Future-S-based vehicle is likely to have a high ground clearance, which might make it worthy of being called an entry-level SUV. The entry-level SUV that Hyundai is talking about could be the second product in this segment.

It is interesting to note that Hyundai is, reportedly, preparing a new small car on the Picanto’s platform, which it shares with the Grand i10, at its new city-owned factory in Gwangju, South Korea. This new car is also believed to be an entry-level SUV and is slated for launch some time in 2021.

Meanwhile, Hyundai’s upcoming hatchback (codenamed AH20 is all set to be launched on October 23, 2018, according to reliable sources. The AH2 has been spied testing in India for a while now, and being touted as the successor to the Eon, it has certainly generated a huge amount of interest.

Much like the first-gen Santro (and the Eon), the AH2 will also sport a tall-boy design and is expected to be powered by an updated version of the Santro Xing’s 65hp, 1.1-litre petrol engine. It will also be the first Hyundai to get an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) in addition to a five-speed manual gearbox. Keeping in line with Hyundai’s approach in recent years, the AH2 is expected to have well-designed interiors with the focus set on top-notch materials. A dash-mounted gear lever is another element likely to make it to the AH2, while a touchscreen infotainment system on top-spec trims is almost a certainty.

While the AH2’s arrival will make way for the Eon’s exit, Hyundai may charge a premium for it, given that it’s bound to be better in every aspect, and not limited just to the additional features it is expected to come with. Having said that, competitive pricing will be key for Hyundai since the AH2 will be up against formidable entries such as the Maruti Suzuki Celerio, and the Tata Tiago, both of which are well received in the market.

The AH2 is certain to have an edge over its rivals in terms of safety thanks to it being based on the previous i10’s robust HA platform as opposed to the Eon’s low-cost PA platform. Dual front airbags, ABS and rear parking sensors are expected to be standard from launch, giving it an edge over the Celerio, which gets a single airbag as standard, and ABS and additional airbags as optional extras.

Hyundai will reveal the AH2’s official name on October 9, with christening responsibilities delegated to its fan base in the country through a contest that ends on September 25, 2018. Agencies

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