Santa Fe keeps get­ting bet­ter

The Hyundai Santa Fe has evolved into a true ex­ec­u­tive ve­hi­cle – lux­u­ri­ous, spa­cious, and com­fort­able. John Ox­ley re­ports.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - NEWS -

I well re­mem­ber the first Santa Fe, way back in 2001. It was a funny-look­ing ve­hi­cle, very much Korean in de­sign, with bul­bous styling and a fat V6 petrol en­gine that didn’t do a lot for econ­omy. But in those days no­body cared much. What it did have was a fair amount of room, de­cent on-road per­for­mance, pass­able off-road abil­ity, and it didn’t cost a lot com­pared to com­pa­ra­ble ve­hi­cles from Ja­pan, Bri­tain and Ger­many. Since then the Santa Fe has come in for a num­ber of in­car­na­tions, with lots of facelifts to the first one, un­til a new model was in­tro­duced in 2007. This was more mod­ern, big­ger and more spa­cious, and its looks were a lot more ac­cept­able, more Euro­pean and less Korean. And then in 2012 we saw a new Santa Fe, with ul­tra-mod­ern styling, and even big­ger and more lux­u­ri­ous. This be­came a hit, thanks to its good looks and spa­cious­ness, and by now Hyundai, in New Zealand at least, had in­tro­duced a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel en­gine with lots of grunt and great econ­omy. Fast for­ward (I prom­ise) to third quar­ter 2015, and Hyundai in­tro­duced what it termed the Se­ries II Santa Fe, with some ex­te­rior up­grades, but mostly safety and driver as­sis­tance im­prove­ments, in­clud­ing au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing (AEB) on the top Lim­ited model as tested here. To cut a long story short, the Sante Fe has come a long way in a short time. From a ve­hi­cle that op­er­ated very much as a medium SUV, the lat­est Santa Fe has moved into the large seg­ment, and more than that, in terms of the Lim­ited model tested here, in terms of pric­ing into the Ex­ec­u­tive mar­ket – a spa­cious and so­phis­ti­cated SUV, able to carry seven peo­ple and their stuff in com­fort, and to oc­ca­sion­ally ven­ture onto a beach, pad­dock, dirt road, or hit the snow fields.

So what’s new in the Se­ries II?

Ex­te­rior styling changes are min­i­mal, with the front get­ting a tweaked grille and new front bumper, xenon head­lights, DRLS, fog lights, cor­ner­ing lights and wing mir­rors, as well as a new de­sign of al­loy wheel, while at the back there’s a tweaked bumper and tail­lights, as well as a new ex­haust tip. Re­tained (thank­fully) is the ex­cel­lent 147kw/440nm 2.2-litre four-cylin­der tur­bod­iesel, hooked up to the same six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. And there are im­prove­ments in road noise and ride qual­ity. How­ever, as men­tioned it’s in the tech­nol­ogy de­part­ment that most changes have oc­curred. The top-spec Lim­ited diesel now comes stan­dard with blind spot de­tec­tion, radar cruise con­trol, lane change as­sist, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, and there’s also a lane de­par­ture warn­ing sys­tem, auto head­lights and rain sens­ing wipers, as well as 19-inch al­loy wheels, re­vers­ing sen­sors and a cam­era, key­less en­try, day­time run­ning lights, cor­ner­ing lights, heated side mir­rors, Hyundai’s flex steer sys­tem, Blue­tooth, and a leather-rimmed steer­ing wheel with satel­lite con­trols. And on top of that there’s an elec­trochro­matic rear view mirror with a dig­i­tal compass, a wind­screen de-icer, a prox­im­ity key with key­less start, elec­tric fold­ing side mir­rors, a “smart wel­come” sys­tem, rear pri­vacy glass, SUNA satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, an up­graded au­dio sys­tem, dual zone cli­mate con­trol, a chilled glove­box, leather elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats, front and sec­ond row seat warm­ers and an elec­tric park­ing brake. Plus the ben­e­fit of xenon head­lights, LED tail­lights, rear win­dow shades, a panoramic sun­roof and smart park as­sist. Hyundai has ba­si­cally taken an ex­cel­lent car, left all the good bits alone, jammed a bunch of new stuff in and tweaked a few bits to make them even bet­ter. Keeps get­ting bet­ter.

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