An­niver­sary pres­ence

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CARSGUIDE - RICHARD BLACK­BURN CARS­GUIDE EDITOR richard.black­burn@news.com.au

THE Aussie fam­ily sedan may be on the way out but it seems we’re not quite over six­cylin­der power.

De­spite the avail­abil­ity of strong, fru­gal diesels in most large SUVs, plenty of buy­ers are still opt­ing for petrol en­gines.

Toy­ota’s Kluger lacks a diesel vari­ant but re­mains the sec­ondbest sell­ing large SUV be­hind its Prado sta­ble­mate

Its suc­cess has prompted Hyundai to put a toe back in the wa­ter in the seg­ment with a new V6 petrol ver­sion of its Santa Fe. The com­pany ear­lier dumped its V6 petrol Santa Fe but has re­leased a spe­cial edi­tion run of 300 V6s to cel­e­brate 30 years in Aus­tralia.

The new 3.3-litre V6 puts out a healthy 199kW of power and 318Nm of torque but that’s not the spe­cial edi­tion’s only plus. It is priced at $39,990 drive-away, cheaper than the four-cylin­der petrol Santa Fe.

That price in­cludes leather­ap­pointed seats, me­tal­lic paint, 19-inch al­loys, rear pri­vacy glass and dual-zone air­con­di­tion­ing.

Hyundai boss Scott Grant says that de­pend­ing on how the model is re­ceived, the com­pany might look at other lim­ited edi­tion runs or “add it to the line-up as a per­ma­nent fea­ture”.

“They sell plenty of Klugers. There are other petrol (mod­els) that have ... sold rea­son­ably well in that body style so there’s a seg­ment of the mar­ket we’re not talk­ing to.”

He says that for many women on the school run “a petrol is still more ap­peal­ing to fill up at a bowser than a diesel”.

Grant also be­lieves a V6 Santa Fe may tempt peo­ple step­ping out of the Fal­con, Ter­ri­tory and Com­modore as lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing draws to a close. “We feel there’s an op­por­tu­nity for the tra­di­tional large car buyer to come across to Hyundai, num­ber one, as a brand and then into prod­ucts like Santa Fe or even Tucson,” he says.

The lim­ited edi­tion is also an at­tempt to give the age­ing Santa Fe a boost as it tack­les newer mod­els, in­clud­ing the Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9.

ON THE ROAD

The spe­cial edi­tion is a front­drive ver­sion of the Santa Fe, which im­me­di­ately presents po­ten­tial prob­lems with get­ting V6 power to the ground.

There is a gen­tle tug at the steer­ing wheel un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion and you can chirp the front wheels if you’re too en­thu­si­as­tic with the ac­cel­er­a­tor but ul­ti­mately Hyundai’s en­gi­neers have done a good job of har­ness­ing the ex­tra power.

On the open road, it’s easy to see why Aus­tralians fell in love with six-cylin­der power.

Un­like in a diesel, throt­tle re­sponse is in­stan­ta­neous when you’re on the move, which al­lows you to make the most of short over­tak­ing lanes on coun­try back roads.

The sound un­der full throt­tle is also more sat­is­fy­ing, while the six-speed auto is slick-shift­ing, cre­at­ing a sportier feel than the av­er­age fam­ily wagon.

Be pre­pared to visit the ser­vice sta­tion more of­ten than in the diesel, though. The of­fi­cial la­bel claims an av­er­age of 9.6L/100km — we logged about 11.0L/100km on our high­way run, although that was fully loaded with five adults and, in the 516L of boot space, their lug­gage.

On the whole, the rest of the Santa Fe en­gi­neer­ing pack­age is up to the job of deal­ing with the ex­tra power. The steer­ing is well weighted and the sus­pen­sion keeps the big wagon planted through the bends de­spite the body lean that’s typical of high­rid­ing SUVs.

The 19-inch wheels on our test car meant the Santa Fe didn’t soak up the bumps as well as other ver­sions we’ve driven. How­ever, the ride is still com­fort­able over all but the most pock­marked of sur­faces.

In­side, the Santa Fe shows its age a lit­tle. The park­ing brake is an old-school foot-op­er­ated job, there’s no start but­ton and there isn’t a head rest for the mid­dle pas­sen­ger in the sec­ond row.

There’s no built-in sat­nav but the Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto means you can hook up your smart­phone and use Google Maps, which works well pro­vided you can get mo­bile re­cep­tion.

VER­DICT

The diesel Santa Fe is a Cars­guide favourite and would still be our pick. How­ever, the V6 is an at­trac­tive, well priced alternative for those who can’t yet wean them­selves off six­cylin­der petrol power.

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