To be positioned below Venue, Hyundai new entry-level mini-SUV will rival the likes of Tata Punch, Citroen C3, Nissan Magnite and Renault Kiger
While Hyundai has been working on its entry-level SUV project since 2016-2017, it is only now that its development is in full swing. The project was green-lighted a couple of years back, but things got delayed due to the pandemic. Launch is expected in the festive season of 2023.
Hyundai entry-level SUV becomes even more relevant in present-day context, where Tata Punch has emerged a runaway success. Earlier this year, Punch became the fastest SUV to achieve 1 lakh sales milestone. In its first year of sales, Punch has managed to touch near 1.2 lakh sales. Growing preference for SUVs over entry-level hatchbacks is a key reason why Hyundai has plans to aggressively target this space.
Based on Grand i10 Nios platform
Codenamed Ai3 CUV (Compact Utility Vehicle), Hyundai entry-level SUV will be using the same platform as that of Grand i10 Nios and Aura compact sedan. It is expected to be bigger in comparison to Casper hatchback, which is offered in select international markets. Casper measures 3,595 mm in length, whereas Venue is 3,995 mm long. Hyundai Ai3 CUV will be dimensionally close to its primary rival Punch that is 3,827 mm long.
Just like Punch, Hyundai entry-level SUV will have muscular body panelling and thick body cladding. The idea is to produce a strong street presence at a price that matches mid- to top-spec variants of entry-level hatchbacks. Hyundai is likely to restructure i10 Nios and Venue variant mix, at bottom range and top range, respectively. This will help accommodate the upcoming Ai3 CUV.
Hyundai has plans to manufacture 50,000 units of the entry-level SUV per annum. The numbers are pretty modest, as compared to Punch that is averaging around 10k units per month. Instead of taking Punch head-on in the numbers game, it appears that Hyundai is focused more on profitability aspects.
The company has invested around Rs 1,470 crore towards capacity expansion to facilitate production of the new entry-level SUV. Production capacity has been increased to 8.5 lakh units during the last financial year.
Hyundai entry-level SUV specs
Ai3 CUV will be using the 1.2-litre petrol motor that does duty on i10 Nios and Aura. It generates 83 PS of max power at 6,000 rpm and 114 Nm of peak torque at 4,000 rpm. Transmission options include 5-speed manual and smart auto AMT. i10 Nios also has a 1.0-litre turbo petrol motor that makes 100 PS and 172 Nm. It is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. It is not certain if this will be included as an option for Ai3 CUV.
It will be interesting to see how Hyundai Ai3 CUV performs in this fast-growing segment. In just around 2 years’ time, the entry-level SUV segment has reached average sales of around 20k units per month. Apart from Punch, other contributors include Citroen C3, Magnite and Kiger. Entry-level SUVs currently contribute around 10% of overall UV sales. This number is expected to increase in coming years.