Hyundai pickup prototype spotted, looks almost finished

Check out this. It’s the first proper glimpse of Hyundai’s upcoming ute/pickup. A prototype, likely one of the first prototypes, was recently spotted wearing what is believed to be a close-to-production body.

The image was posted up by Korean Car Blog, showing a heavily-clad yet suspiciously finalised prototype. We say suspiciously because if you look closer it looks like the panels, pillars, and roof are all pretty much complete and ready for production.

According to the blog, Hyundai has given the pickup a codename of NX4 OB. Avid Hyundai fans will know NX4 is associated with the next-gen Tucson, which suggests the pickup will be based on Tucson in some way. The part of the front guard that’s slightly revealed in the image does seem to feature very similar traits to the current Tucson, too.

For example, the way the bonnet edge kinks up towards the windscreen, exactly like on the Tucson. The black plastic moulding around the front wheel arch is also spot-on, along with the inch or so of flat panel surface just adjacent to the black arch. However, the side mirrors do look a little different, and the horizontal body line above the door handles on the Tucson doesn’t really appear on the pickup prototype, not overlapping to the front guard anyway.

Hyundai confirmed last month that it is indeed planning to introduce a new pickup, inspired by the Santa Cruz concept it revealed in 2015 (below). Production will take place at the company’s Alabama plant, commencing in 2021. With such a short timeframe it would make sense that Hyundai will begin testing prototypes right about now.

It’s understood the design plans for the pickup have been finalised. The Korean Car Blog says the design was recently shown at a US dealer convention, although it will apparently be updated from that.

As for the hardware, such as the suspension and powertrain configurations, it’s all still up in the air at the moment as Hyundai hasn’t confirmed anything. We think Hyundai will probably offer its latest 2.5-litre SmartStream engine, and there’s a possibility it will offer its upcoming 2.5-litre turbo-petrol as well, which is set to produce around 200-220kW.

We almost jokingly kicked off a rumour about the possibility of the 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6, perhaps for an N version. However, we should probably keep dreaming about that one at this stage. In fact, we don’t even know if the pickup will be offered in Australia just yet. Hyundai Australia has said it will put it hands up for it, but that doesn’t mean HQ will fulfil the request.

In terms of the suspension, given the likelihood of being based on the Tucson, we suspect Hyundai will be targeting a more adventurous and active part of the market segment. So, independent suspension will probably carry over from the Tucson, albeit beefed up to suit a heavyish payload, while front- and all-wheel drive configurations seem the likely choice. An extended wheelbase has also been rumoured to give the pickup a decent-size load area.

Now that a prototype has been spotted out and about, we’d expect more and more to pop up in the near future. And with that, we can probably anticipate more and more details to be slowly uncovered.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.