Hyundai picks up the SUV ball and runs with it

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODFUN -

Fe, their larger SUV, and came away im­pressed with most of its many charms.

I found it sur­pris­ing to feel the amount of en­ergy a 2.2-litre diesel engine (145kW at 3 800rpm and 436Nm at 2 500rpm) can still dis­play, de­spite hav­ing to tug around as big a body as that of the Santa Fe.

It is a noisy diesel, very much the engine used in the Hyundai pick-up and other com­mer­cials, but it’s a sweet-na­tured unit with a lot of will­ing­ness and guts.

The Santa Fe has been up­dated very nicely to fit what mo­tor com­pa­nies call the “de­sign lan­guage”. There is no mis­tak­ing that this ve­hi­cle is di­rect fam­ily of the Elantra, Sonata and all those other re­spectable Kore­ans that are mak­ing like Toy­ota did here some decades ago.

Th­ese larger SUVs are very com­fort­able. The days when the mid­dle-class dreamt of the lux­ury af­forded by a big limou­sine while buy­ing some­thing much more ba­sic are gone.

Back in the 1960s/70s, if you wanted this kind of roomi­ness in South Africa, you bought Aus­tralian. And then you had rapidly un­con­toured sag­ging bench seats, plas­tic up­hol­stery and man­ual win­ders.

Hyundai claims a fuel con­sump­tion fig­ure of 8.3 litres over 100km, but I could do no bet­ter than 9.2. Which is still pretty good for the size, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the fact that the ve­hi­cle I tested ran on a per­ma­nent four-wheel drive sys­tem.

This is more a ve­hi­cle for bad roads than no roads. Even with diff lock work­ing, the Santa Fe found the go­ing a bit tough on the real soft stuff and I cer­tainly would not take this car to the Namib.

The six-speed auto gear­box does what it needs to do. It is not all that smooth, feel­ing a bit old-fash­ioned com­pared to what you can get th­ese days. But does it mat­ter? Maybe only in ir­ri­ta­tion lev­els. The gear ra­tios are fine; it did not feel over­worked or over-revved in any gear.

One can pop seven peo­ple into the Ex­ec­u­tive and Elite mod­els, while the base Pre­mium model is a five-seater.

With the back row seats folded, you will get up to 994 litres of lug­gage space.

All ver­sions of the Santa Fe are fit­ted with dual zone cli­mate con­trol and there is a switch to ac­ti­vate the air con­di­tioner for the folks in the mid­dle and the back. The Elite of­fers 12-way power ad­justable driver’s seat, a re­verse cam­era, au­to­matic lights and wipers and panoramic sun­roof.

On of­fer is a five-year/90 000km ser­vice plan and road­side as­sis­tance for five years or 150 000km. Ser­vice ev­ery 15 000km.

MOMMY WAGON OR LEISURE EX­PRESS: Big wag­ons such as Hyundai’s ever im­prov­ing Santa Fe makes life on the road for the fam­ily just that bit more com­fort­able.

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