Hyundai has not ruled out the possibility of its incoming pick-up receiving the N performance moniker as a potential rival for the Ford Ranger Raptor.
Heading for the lucrative North American market next year, the production version of the Santa Cruz pick-up will ride on a unibody platform like the Honda Ridgeline, but according to N boss Albert Biermann, an N-badged example could still happen.
“You have to be ready for everything from Hyundai and Kia, everything is possible. So there’s no limitations,” Biermann told Australia’s motoring.com.au.
While the concept Santa Cruz that bowed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit five years ago come powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, the Aussie online publication alleges that the production variant could instead use the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the i30 N, albeit upped from 202 kW to 225 kW.
The latest claim about Hyundai mulling a possible Raptor rival comes after Hyundai Australia Product Planning Manager, Andrew Tuitahi, told caradvice.com.au last year that it will be keeping tabs on sales of both the Raptor and the Volkswagen Amarok V6 TDI before making a decision.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the more performance oriented utes go over time, we’ve been watching it [performance utes] closely and looking at something like Ranger Raptor and a lot of the customer feedback about a smaller four cylinder. Seems to be a lot of requests about performance petrol as well. So you know, we’ll keep a close eye on it,” he said.
At present, the Santa Cruz will be restricted to North America in spite of Australia pushing for it to be made in right-hand-drive, and after the emergence of spy images last year showing what appears to be a completely different model that is more workhorse-like. In effect, it would appear that two models are being developed, though little has otherwise been seen or heard from the latter.