THERE WAS a surprise hit at the 2015 Detroit motor show – and it wasn’t a slinky two-seat sports car or an ultra-advanced concept car that tried to predict the future. Instead it was a pick-up truck from Hyundai, and, boy, did it catch the attention of the locals.
As the name suggests, the Santa Cruz is an attempt to click with the West Coast crowd and create a car that oozes cool when parked at the beach while still letting them throw surf boards and wetsuits into the cargo area without a care in the world.
Hyundai says that the market for large pick-ups – a hugely popular type of car in America – has shrunk by 5% over the past decade, and speaks of “urban adventurers” as the target audience for the Santa Cruz. Apparently, the big thing for this type of buyer (who lives in a city but dreams of escaping at the weekend) is loading up friends and firewood for a bonfire at the beach.
The Santa Cruz is still at concept stage, so things may change before production, but at the moment it seats five – thanks to its double cab arrangement – and has front and rear doors that open in opposite directions, like the Mazda RX-8 and BMW i3. It’s about the size of a Land Rover Freelander, and to improve practicality, the load bed has an extendible section.
It’s no gas-guzzler, though: its 2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine produces 190bhp and can return an estimated 36mpg.
Commenting on the car’s favourable reception, Dave Zuchowski, chief executive of Hyundai in America, told Auto Express that the company would “… try to get this fast-tracked for production”. He added: “This would work for Europe, which is ahead of the game in terms of urbanisation.”