Hyundai Santa Cruz

All-new monocoque chassis Santa Cruz bakkie goes about it differently

It’s completely against the bakkie grain, its taken six years to happen and there’s no guarantee it will even come to South Africa. But Hyundai’s all-new Santa Cruz has every reason to succeed.

See, unlike a conventional Hilux or Ranger one-ton pickup truck, Hyundai has gone in the opposite direction. Instead of building a traditional body and bak on ladder frame chassis, the Koreans have opted for a car-like unibody construction for their first ’truck’.

Nothing unusual, actually

Not that there’s anything unusual about that — the solely missed Chevrolet Lumina SS ute was for instance always a monocoque chassised machine, As was the slow-selling Ssangyong Rexton. And did you know the good old half ton bakkie, from the Corsa Ute to there Bantam and the sole-surviving Dacia-made NP200 have always ‘unconventionally’ lacked a good old ladder chassis and leaf-sprung solid rear axle?

Of course, the one-ton bakkie ‘manne’ will scoff at this oversight. But then there’s the other view. That 90% of the leisure bakkies out there are for the pose anyway and that they will never test their bakkie ability in the first place. So why the hell not?

There’s one small problem to be overcome before that is ever proven — or disproven right here in ‘Sanzi: Santa Cruz will be built at Hyundai’s good old in Alabama USA. So it still remains unknown if right hand drive is part of the plan. But then Hyundai is just as big as it is in SA as it is in Aussie, the UK and other major right-hooker markets, so who knows? We’re holding thumbs.

Santa Cruz breaks new bakkie & Hyundai ground

Still, Santa Cruz breaks new for Hyundai and the industry with ‘open-bed flexibility and closed-cabin security’. It seeks to alter how adventurous buyers look at their next bakkie and the accent (now there’s a good old Hyundai word!) here is more on performance, efficiency and manoeuvrability. Both on and off the hard stuff. The company reckons that Santa Cruz will attract urban-based customers consistently ready to escape the city…

Packing the choice of a pair of turbo 205 kW 420 Nm 8-speed double-clutch and naturally aspirated 141 kW 244 Nm 8-speed slushbox 2.5-litre four-pots, both models get ‘HTRAC’ electronic variable torque clutch-split all-wheel-drive. It apportions torque front to rear. Sport mode delivers a more rear drive bias. And here’s a central differential lock and hill descent control too.

Quite how that all shapes up in the real rough suff remains to be seen. But somehow we expect that Santa Cruz to star away from it. Also, shorter than a conventional 5.4-odd meter long one-ton bakkie, the 4.97 m Santa Cruz rides on a slightly shorter 3 m wheelbase, while that 1.32 m load bay gives a bit away to a conventional 1.5m odd long bak.

Cutting edge styling, smart load bed solutions

Santa Cruz get’s latest cutting-edge Hyundai styling with the chose of some really cool looking 18 to 20-inch alloy wheels. Its smart load bed gets a lockable tonneau cover, the rear bench rises and there are several more goodie stowing spots in the bak and cab alike. That cab is well connected with 8-inch colour touchscreen infotainment; Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless Qi charging, digital key, 8-speaker Bose premium audio and the rest.

Now all we need is to get this bakkie to South Africa. It could very well shake up the local leisure market with something nobody was ever expecting… — Michele Lupini

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