2015 Detroit - Hyundai debuts HCD-15 Santa Cruz Concept

When Hyundai mulls entry into a segment in which it isn't competing currently, it does so in such a way that the competition sits and takes notice. The ongoing North American International Auto Show in Detroit had one such moment when the South Korean manufacturer unveiled the HCD-15 Santa Cruz Concept. Penned at Hyundai’s California Design Studio, this Sport Truck concept hints at a compact pickup truck that could roll down the brand’s assembly lines a few years from now. Given America’s love towards pickups and the absence of competition in the compact truck segment, Hyundai might actually be staring at a sure-shot success if it decides to add this model to its portfolio.

Like most concepts, the HCD-15 Santa Cruz is bold, flashy and, in some places, in-your-face. The large hexagonal grille with cascading hexagonal slots, for instance, is one of those cues that also adds to its brute appeal. The upright front end is characterized by neat honey-combed projector headlamps and vertical LED fog lamps. A sleek greenhouse, smart rear-hinged doors that merge seamlessly with the front doors, a raked C-pillar and over-sized wheels define the profile. The rear is less alluring, undone by the bland tailgate that looks to have been chopped off a crossover. The wraparound horizontal taillights look great though.

Upping the ‘rugged bling’ quotient are the skid plates front and rear, plastic cladding all around, the slingshot-shaped design flourish in the front doors and the bright yellow accents splashed on the ‘Brembo’ discs, tow hooks, rear-view mirrors and the dual trapezoidal exhausts. The Santa Cruz Concept may be a compact pickup but comes with the useful functionality of an expandable loading bed and a tailgate extension that, Hyundai claims, increases the length of the loading bay comparable to a midsize pickup.

Hyundai hasn't divulged any details yet on the mechanicals except that a 2.0-liter turbo diesel power-train with 190 horsepower and 407 Nm of torque would be powering all four wheels of the truck through Hyundai’s ‘HTRAC’ All-wheel drive system.

With a compact footprint, seating for five, an innovative and practical open bed that expands only when needed and the overall size of a small crossover, Hyundai’s Santa Cruz is a brilliant concept that only needs proper execution to make it big. When the ‘Concept Genesis’ was unveiled in 2007, not many took it seriously only to be overwhelmed later when the production model took them by surprise. So, dear competitors, ignore the Santa Cruz at your own risk!

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