Santa Fe leads in diesel sales
The top-five models in the Large SUV segment so far this year are a surprisingly diverse selection. Rental car sales power the V6 petrol Toyota Highlander to the top position. The aged Holden Captiva ranks number two pushed along by attractive pricing ahead of the Subaru Outback, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Mazda CX-9.
Along with Highlander, both Outback and CX-9 are also exclusively petrol models and the segment is split 54:46 in favour of petrol.
Clearly leading the diesel arena is the Santa Fe. Hyundai says more than 90 per cent of Santa Fes sold in New Zealand have the 2.2-litre R Series four-cylinder diesel under the bonnet.
The Gen-four Santa Fe (model code TM) now on sale in New Zealand is a full refresh of Hyundai’s large SUV. It delivers more space, a significant increase in safety and connectivity plus a further evolution of Hyundai’s bold styling that lends it a strong visual presence on the road.
The exterior is highlighted by Hyundai’s “cascading grille” theme with a hexagonal 3D treatment and a twin headlamp lighting signature.
Interesting visual touches are the return of a fixed A-pillar window and a significant larger glasshouse at the rear with a claimed 41 per cent improvement in visibility for the third row occupants. An extended wheelbase and increased width and length provide more passenger and load space.
The four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines are carried over from the previous generation DM Santa Fe while a new H-Trac allwheel-drive system promises faster traction response and improved fuel efficiency.
The diesel-powered Santa Fe models follow the Kia Sorento and Sportage diesels in gaining a new eight-speed automatic transmission. But the 2.4-litre Theta II GDI petrol engine — not present during last week’s New Zealand media launch programme — retains the previous six-speed auto.
The petrol engine develops 138kW at 6000rpm and has 241Nm of torque at 4000rpm. Combined cycle consumption is rated at 9.3L/100km.
The diesel is the clear performance choice for Santa Fe buyers with 147kW at 3800rpm and — of much greater importance — 440Nm of torque between 1750-2750rpm. Combined cycle consumption is rated at 7.5L/100km — down from 7.8L/100km thanks in most part to the new transmission — and there’s a 6-litre increase in tank capacity to 70-litres.
The R Series is a proven smooth and refined performer and those qualities have been enhanced by the responsive eight-speed auto. Hyundai has dropped the 3.3-litre V6 petrol front-wheel-drive model from the new Santa Fe line-up.
New Santa Fe puts a larger footprint on the road with the wheelbase stretched by 65mm while the body is 70mm longer and 10mm wider. The height unchanged at 1680mm and ground clearance remains at 185mm.
There are small increases in load volume measurements in each of the 2-seat, 5-seat and 7-seat configurations and the most significant gains in passenger space are an additional 13mm of second row legroom and 42mm of third row headroom but there’s a 19mm reduction in third row legroom.
One-touch releases provide the folding mechanism for both the second and third row seats and new grab handles assist with entry and egress from the third row.
A few hundred kilometres behind the wheel of the new Santa Fe also confirms a very comfortable driving position with supportive front seats and excellent visibility. A stylishly tidy dash layout with plenty of quality soft touch materials provides notable ergonomics and quality to the cabin.
The ride was compliant across lumpy Northland highways with settled comfort and body control and the Santa Fe Elite and Limited show plenty of wide tyre grip on the 19-inch alloy wheel and 235/55 tyre combination.
Road noise wasn’t intrusive on most of the surfaces and the combination of diesel torque, tall gearing and quiet refinement made the Santa Fe a relaxed highway traveller.
It was only when hurried along in the tightest sections where its substantial — slightly increased — weight became the predominant factor in its driving dynamics.
The steering does have an acquired taste due to constant activity in your hands from the enthusiastic lane keeping assist responses. Things felt more natural and less intrusive with the system switched off where you get the impressions Hyundai has worked hard to get rid of the light feel of the previous model and bring a new feel of connection to the driver.
Hyundai has extended its SmartSense safety and drivers assist roster for the TM Santa Fe. All models have Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Smart Cruise Control, High Beam Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warning and Lead Vehicle Departure Alert.
Entry level models get Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert while the Elite and Limited are upgraded to new Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist and Blind Sport Collision Avoidance Assist systems while also gaining Safe Exit Assist and Rear Occupant