Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe £41,795

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - OL­LIE KEW

WE SAY: FLAG­SHIP HYUNDAI TRULY COMES OF AGE

Don’t dis­miss the Hyundai Santa Fe as a big Korean pile of deriva­tive­ness – merely Hyundai’s take on a pound­shop Land Rover Dis­cov­ery. It’s so much bet­ter than that. It’s a bit of a family car tri­umph, in fact – and jus­ti­fies no longer be­ing a con­spic­u­ous bar­gain.

The best bit is the seat­ing. All UK-spec Santa Fes have space for seven, and the rear row, while be­ing best suited to pre-teens, is clever. Ac­cess is via big doors and easy­fold­ing seats – one lever, sen­si­bly sprung. But once the kids are back there, they’re not trapped un­til an adult comes to release them (sorry). Hyundai’s put but­tons on the top of the back­rest to un­lock the mech­a­nism and al­low the cherubs back out with­out as­sis­tance.

The han­dles and levers feel tough and sub­stan­tial. The straps to pull the rear­most chairs up from the 547-litre boot are long and strong. Peo­ple who have kids, and have been frus­trated by cars not cater­ing to them, have sussed this out. An SUV it may be, but the Santa Fe is a ter­rific MPV.

Up front, the er­gonomics are very VW (i.e. ideal), even if the ma­te­ri­als aren’t. But Hyundai is mov­ing away from tinny plas­tic mas­querad­ing as metal, and the tight­ness of fin­ish it­self is im­pres­sive. So is the stor­age (12 bins in all). And Hyundai’s own-brand eight-inch touch­screen knocks Honda’s and Nis­san’s into a cocked hat. Did we men­tion the five-year war­ranty?

Mean­while, the team in charge of set­ting up how the Santa Fe drives seems to have spent lots of time in an Audi Q7. It’s un­canny. Like the big­ger, pricier, uglier Ger­man, the Santa Fe shuns pre­tenses of sporti­ness and con­cen­trates in­stead on re­fine­ment. So, the 2.2-litre diesel is qui­eter than be­fore (a hy­brid’s in­bound) and it’s mar­shalled obe­di­ently by the eight-speed au­to­matic (a six-speed man­ual is stan­dard lower down the range). Wind noise, for a big bus, is ban­ished im­pres­sively. And the ride isn’t just quiet, it’s pli­ant, but with enough con­trol that the kids who’ve helped them­selves to the rear seats won’t get sea­sick.

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