There's an obvious shortage of SUV convertibles in the world at the moment -- and Hyundai Australia looks to be trying to do something to remedy the situation. Although the Santa Fe Cabriolet the company has come up with is a one-off project that's not even legal to drive on public roads, don't rule out the possibility of this soon becoming another new sub-genre of the burgeoning SUV market.
To be honest, there doesn't actually seem to be a huge appetite in the market for a raft of new convertible SUVs, but a lot of people laughed at the idea of SUV coupes when BMW came up with the X6. Now manufacturers are rivalling one another to introduce more and more crossover coupes of all shapes, sizes and prices to meet a growing demand.
Hyundai completely redesigned the Santa Fe earlier this year, and it's starting to appear on the streets with its aggressive and stylized new look. Although there are a number of ways the new Santa Fe can be configured, there isn't an option for a cabriolet version of the three-row SUV.
On the face of things, a three-row crossover cabriolet sounds improbable but looking at the images of this one-off design from Hyundai, one may start to be convinced of its value.One-off Hyundai Santa Fe cabriolet from the back. (Photo: AFP Relaxnews)
The vehicle began life as a pre-production version of the new Santa Fe that had been used for promotional purposes. The truth behind the cabriolet configuration is that the roof was actually removed for better access for photographers to get images of the interior, and the vehicle was meant to be crushed afterwards. The CarAdvice publication then found out about it and talked Hyundai into letting them have a test drive in it on a private road.
As there will have been none of the usual reinforcement that cabriolets inevitably need to prevent them wobbling uncontrollably as it wasn't designed as a convertible, and it was never even set up to be driven, we can only imagine how bad it must have been to drive. However, it actually looks pretty cool, and it's sure to have raised some thoughts about the potential for more genuine SUV cabriolets.
For the moment then, the Range Rover Evoque remains the only drop-top crossover on the market. But as the thirst for SUVs shows no sign of slowing anytime soon, don't rule out the possibility of more before too long.