A TOUCH OF CLASS

HIGH-TECH BELLS AND WHIS­TLES, YES BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

Hamilton News - - PROPERTY GUIDE - PAUL OWEN

Me­chan­i­cally, there is noth­ing new about Hyundai’s new fourth­gen­er­a­tion Santa Fe. The stronger new plat­form that un­der­pins it, the smoother eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box that en­livens it, and the new steer­ing sys­tem that so em­phat­i­cally di­rects it were all de­buted in this mar­ket by the new­gen Kia Sorento ear­lier this year.

The dif­fer­ence is that the lat­est Santa Fe comes with an ex­tra layer of elec­tronic fea­tures, in­clud­ing a Wi-fi-in­de­pen­dent app that’ll al­low you to mon­i­tor it by re­mote con­trol from your phone. Add that to other new tricks like rear-seat oc­cu­pant alert (pre­vents you leav­ing a pet or a child in the locked car to cook), safe exit as­sist, front and rear col­li­sion avoid­ance as­sist, blind-spot avoid­ance as­sist, and a host of oth­ers that com­prise a pack­age Hyundai calls Smart­sense, and there’s lit­tle doubt that this is a highly ar­ti­fi­cially-in­tel­li­gent new SUV.

The chief geek at Hyundai Au­to­mo­tive New Zealand, Gavin Young, is prob­a­bly be­ing only a lit­tle gen­er­ous with the truth when he hails it as “the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced SUV on the mar­ket right now.”

Ditto, when HANZ gen­eral man­ager Andy Sin­clair points to the beau­ti­fully de­signed and more spa­cious cabin as I drive him north­wards in the Santa Fe, he can ask, with some con­fi­dence and a cheeky grin, the rhetor­i­cal ques­tion: “wouldn’t a pre­mium badge sit com­fort­ably on this?”

I have to af­firm that it would, sim­ply be­cause it is such a con­vinc­ing ef­fort. To me, the cabin is a big­ger rea­son than the ex­tra elec­tronic so­phis­ti­ca­tion to buy the Santa Fe over the Sorento. It gives a bet­ter sense of oc­ca­sion along with tex­tures and vis­ual cues that look and feel nat­u­ral. Plenty of the lessons learned by Hyundai when it cre­ated the Gen­e­sis lux­ury sa­loon have ob­vi­ously been car­ried over.

Al­though not nearly as calm­ing as the mid-drive visit to the great kauri god-tree, Tane Mahuta, the cabin de­sign at­tempts to place its hu­man cargo in a nat­u­ral con­text. For ex­am­ple, the light/shadow play of the rip­pled speaker cov­ers for the 10-speaker, dual-amp, sub­woofer-equipped In­fin­ity au­dio sys­tem (Elite and Limited mod­els) can be reimag­ined as the sur­face of a river sparkling in bright sun­light at first glance. The dash­board ap­pears to crest like an ap­proach­ing wave when sit­ting in the front seats of the Santa Fe. The roof liner is made of a ma­te­rial that looks like felted hound­stooth. It all com­bines to make a drive through heavy traf­fic feel more like a day at the beach, or walk­ing the Hea­phy Track, and that’s be­fore or­der­ing the no-cost beige syn­thetic leather seat cov­ers and door cards that would com­plete the na­ture-in­spired de­sign theme (be pre­pared to ex­pe­ri­ence a longer de­liv­ery time if you do).

Turn­ing from the po­etic to the prac­ti­cal, this cabin will be more things to more peo­ple. Things like more roomy, more com­fort­able, and more easy to tailor to the load of the day. It’s eas­ier to ac­cess and exit all seven seats of the Santa Fe through a wealth of levers and but­tons that can re­con­fig­ure the seat­ing ar­range­ments in sec­onds. If the calm­ing ef­fects of the cabin de­sign be­gin to re­ally take ef­fect, a bed-like flat floor can be cre­ated by fold­ing down the sec­ond- and third-row seats with the push of a cou­ple of but­tons.

Most of the 70mm stretch in the over­all length of the Santa Fe pulled the front and rear wheels 65mm fur­ther apart, leav­ing a fur­ther 5mm to be added to the rear over­hang in the in­ter­ests of in­creas­ing third-row legroom. The more up­right C-pil­lar of the new body also adds an ex­tra 42mm of third-row head­room. As a re­sult, the third-row seats are more ac­com­mo­dat­ing and so the Santa Fe can cart seven hu­mans rather than five plus a pair of hob­bits.

As is usual with Hyundai Mo­tor Com­pany struc­tural up­grades, more higher ten­sile steel is used to in­crease body rigid­ity with­out adding mass, and tor­sional stiff­ness rises an­other 15 per cent. Also con­sis­tent with the usual HMC method is the con­sum­ing of any weight-sav­ing that re­sults by adding ex­tra sound-proof­ing, leav­ing more aero­dy­namic ex­te­rior de­sign to add any fuel ef­fi­ciency gain. With a drag co-ef­fi­cient of 0.34, the new Tm-gen­er­a­tion body cuts through the air pretty cleanly for a large, high-rid­ing SUV. How­ever, it’s the sig­nif­i­cantly hushed noise lev­els dur­ing high­way driv­ing that buy­ers will fully ap­pre­ci­ate.

Two adap­tive 4wd pow­er­trains: a 138kw/241nm 2.4 litre di­rect­in­jec­tion four-cylin­der petrol driv­ing a six-speed au­to­matic, and a 147kw/440nm 2.2 litre four­cylin­der turbo-diesel driv­ing the new eight-speed au­to­matic mo­ti­vate the new Santa Fe mod­els. Ex­pect the lat­ter to com­mand a $7000 pre­mium in the en­try spec­i­fi­ca­tion and $6000 in the Elite and Limited model tiers.

All launch driv­ing im­pres­sions were gleaned from the wheel of the Elite and Limited diesel mod­els ($75,490 and $82,990 re­spec­tively), and al­though the 2.2 made its de­but in the pre­vi­ous Dm-gen­er­a­tion Santa Fe, it shows its age only via its Euro 5 emis­sion clas­si­fi­ca­tion, and has now found a per­fect mate in the re­spon­sive new eight-speed. The re­sult is a highly-driv­able, size-l diesel SUV ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing re­fined and safe over­tak­ing per­for­mance while achiev­ing 7.5 litres/100km fuel use fig­ures. Tow­ing ca­pac­ity re­mains at 2000kg (braked).

A new pow­er­train in­no­va­tion is the HTRAC sys­tem, which ad­justs front-to-rear torque dis­tri­bu­tion ac­cord­ing whichever of the four driv­ing modes is se­lected. In “Eco”, the en­gine sends the ma­jor­ity of driv­ing force to the front wheels, with only mi­nor al­lo­ca­tions sent rear­wards when re­quired. “Com­fort” in­creases the front/rear torque split to a max­i­mum of 70/30 at, and “Sport” can divvy up the en­gine out­put to 60/40. An en­counter with one of North­land’s wind­ing gravel roads re­vealed the Santa Fe to be an in­volv­ing and sta­ble drive in the sporti­est con­fig­u­ra­tion. Trac­tion con­trol was also held more in re­serve, a vast im­prove­ment on the more trig­ger-happy TC sys­tem fit­ted to DM Santa Fe mod­els. Top­ping these three driv­ing modes is a fourth se­lec­tion called “Smart” mode, which mon­i­tors the driver’s use of the ve­hi­cle and au­to­mat­i­cally ad­justs the Hyundai to what­ever in driv­ing sce­nario is be­ing en­coun­tered.

The new Santa Fe ben­e­fits from a sus­pen­sion tune tai­lored specif­i­cally to the road con­di­tions ex­pe­ri­enced in Aus­tralasian mar­kets. It there­fore rides our heavy-ve­hi­cle ravaged state high­ways if it was born for them, soak­ing up ev­ery­thing in its stride.

The en­try point to the Tm­gen­er­a­tion range is $1000 lower than pre-runout DM mod­els at $59,990, and en­try-grade equip­ment in­cludes 18-inch al­loy wheels, rear view cam­era, front and rear park­ing as­sist, HTRAC, cloth up­hol­stery, day­time run­ning lights, 7-inch touch screen, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, and a Smart­sense pack­age that in­cludes blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, front and rear col­li­sion avoid­ance as­sist, lane keep­ing as­sist, and radar­guided cruise con­trol. Elite mod­els start at $69,490, and fea­ture 19-inch al­loys, leatherette trim, the In­fin­ity au­dio sys­tem, sat­nav, LEDS, and power front seat ad­just­ment. The two pow­er­train­de­fined Limited mod­els ($76,990 and $82,990) up the ante with the auto-link re­mote phone con­trol, a TFT touch­screen, sur­round-view park­ing vi­sion, auto-park, panoramic sun­roof, and heads-up dis­play.

There’s plenty to at­tract buy­ers to the new Santa Fe mod­els. Given the sim­i­lar price po­si­tions to the cars they re­place in the HANZ lineup while of­fer­ing sub­stan­tial lifts in equip­ment, safety, re­fine­ment, de­sign and com­fort, few would bet against this new Tm-gen­er­a­tion re­gain­ing the place once held by the out­go­ing DM range as New Zealand’s most pop­u­lar large SUV.

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