The Tata Punch micro SUV will have competition from Hyundai come 2023 as the South Korean car giant is all set to launch a new micro SUV based on the Grand i10 platform. The actual launch is expected to happen during next year’s festive season, which is about a year from now. Hyundai’s Grand i10 platform currently underpins sub-4 meter compact cars such as the Grand i10 NIOS hatchback and the Aura compact sedan. The micro SUV will be the third sub-4 meter vehicle to use this platform.
Code-named the Ai3, the new micro SUV will be positioned as a compact utility vehicle (CUV) mainly meant for buyers seeking an affordable entry into the SUV space. Butch styling and ample ground clearance will be two key highlights of the new Hyundai micro SUV. It’s likely to look similar to the Casper, which Hyundai launched in international markets recently, but will be slightly bigger, according to a a report on ACI.
The new Hyundai vehicle will be the most affordable SUV in the automaker’s Indian line-up. It’s expected to be powered by a 1.2 liter petrol engine that’s already available on the Grand i10 NIOS and Aura. Given the fact that Hyundai also offers the 1 liter-3 cylinder turbo petrol engine on the Grand i10 range sold here, it’ll be interesting to see if the more powerful engine makes it to the micro SUV. A CNG option for the 1.2 liter petrol engine is another possibility given that the engine already has a CNG option on the Aura. There’s no word of an electric version although this is something Hyundai may be seriously considering.
SUVs, SUVs and more SUVs
More and more Indian buyers are gravitating towards SUVs even in the budget segments. The Tata Punch sells nearly 10,000 copies each month and is highly regarded for its sturdy build and ample ground clearance. With the Punch, Tata Motors has demonstrated that affordable can be attractive and sturdy – and these are two factors that are driving this micro SUV’s sales. Tata Motors will launch an all-electric version of the Punch next year. More automakers are expected to bring in micro SUVs to the Indian market, and gradually the hatchback segment could be totally overrun by micro SUVs.
Why do SUVs make so much sense in India?
- Ground clearance. Indian roads can be quite unpredictable with potholes, huge speed breakers and assorted obstacles. Cars with ample ground clearance equal peace of mind for owners/drivers. Tall ground clearance means no scraping, and not having to worry about driving on rough roads.
- Tall seating position. A commanding view from the driver’s seat makes driving easier, especially when the edges of the bonnet are visible to the driver. Most SUVs offer this.
- Better street cred. Micro SUVs look macho in their own way, and in India – where a car is still a luxury to most – street cred is everything. SUVs are aspirational, and micro SUVs make them accessible to huge swathes of buyers who’d otherwise have to be content with hatchbacks.