The current Hyundai Tucson will soon be due for a replacement, and if you think the new Sonata had an outlandish design, wait till you see the new fourth-generation SUV, which is set to debut next year.

Australian publication WhichCar spoke to Hyundai’s product planning manager Down Under, Andrew Tuatahi, who said that the new Tucson is in advanced stages of development. “Yeah, we’re definitely working on it,” he said. “We would typically see a final design including all trims, paints, and interior colours about two years before production starts, so we’ve definitely done the final design reviews for Tucson.”

Tuatahi added that the next Tucson will have a more distinctive design than the current model, which he hopes will help the new car improve on the sales of its predecessor, which apparently have not been living up to the company’s expectations. “It can’t come soon enough,” he said. “It’s very interesting visually, it’s going to appeal to a very broad audience, I think. Probably the biggest shift for the car is going to be style and design.”

Backing up those claims are recent spyshots, which reveal quite a lot of the car’s radical front fascia. By far the most striking aspect of the design is an enormous and toothy Cascading Grille inspired by the Le Fil Rouge concept, which stretches the entire width of the car. As with the latest Santa Fe, the main headlights have been moved downwards to form an aggressive X-shaped look together with the grille and lower air intake, and there are also squared-off wheel arches just like its larger sibling.

The interior will also see an upgrade to look and feel more premium, again taking some inspiration from the Santa Fe. “Expect to see materials more in line with the Santa Fe across the Tucson range. We’ll introduce some new elements with our material design in terms of layout and configuration, things like entertainment and [instrument] clusters will be quite different in that vehicle,” Tuatahi said.

While the market has moved on to smaller crossovers like the Kona and products from premium brands, Tuatahi remains optimistic that the new car will appeal to buyers. “So much has happened since we launched the current generation,” he said. “I think right now it feels like it’s the oldest car in the segment, but it’s only three and a half/four years old. It’s amazing. But yeah, there have been some shifts in terms of expectations.”

The new Tucson will also see improvements in safety, due to the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme’s (ANCAP) stricter crash test evaluations. “There have been two fundamental NCAP changes in terms of scoring criteria since we’ve launched that car and we’ve gone from your minimum requirement being stability, control and a couple of safety technologies through to compulsory autonomous emergency braking,” he said. “For the next year, you’re going to need a centre bag and cross junction and collision avoidance.”

GALLERY: 2020 Hyundai Tucson spyshots