A high-ranking design executive at Hyundai says the soon-to-be-revealed production version of the Santa Cruz bakkie concept first shown back in 2015 has "a lot more character” than the original.

Speaking to MotorTrend, SangYup Lee, who heads up the Hyundai Global Design Centre in Namyang, said the styling of the unibody bakkie had been extensively updated.

The production model would "be a lot more distinctive" and have "a lot more character", Lee told the US-based publication, adding that although it was still a so-called “crossover pickup”, its look was “a lot more progressive” than before.

Lee explained that the company – and its design approach – had matured since the reveal of the 2015 concept, saying the brand wanted its new vehicles to be striking enough to compel those who see them to take a second look.

Interestingly, while the original Santa Cruz concept revealed in Detroit in 2015 looked like a two-door, it actually had a second set of small rear-hinged portals affording access to the rear quarters.

Late in 2018, Luc Donckerwolke, Hyundai’s chief designer, said the Korean automaker had “finished” styling its upcoming bakkie, adding that it would be launched “as soon as possible”. Various reports suggest the production model is scheduled to hit the market in 2020.