Santa Fe more stylish and safe

LO­CAL LAUNCH/ Hyundai’s seven-seater SUV has a more eye-catch­ing de­sign and im­proved re­fine­ment and space, writes De­nis Droppa

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Pric­ing:

Hyundai has in­tro­duced the fourth gen­er­a­tion of its largest SUV, the Santa Fe, which in­volves a ma­jor restyle, ex­tra space and some re­fine­ment and safety up­grades.

For a brand that moves big num­bers in other au­to­mo­tive seg­ments, the Santa Fe has been a rel­a­tively slow seller in SA’s com­pet­i­tive big SUV mar­ket that in­cludes ri­vals like the Kia Sorento, Volvo XC60, Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Sport and Audi Q5, among oth­ers.

The anony­mous styling did the third-gen­er­a­tion Santa Fe few favours, but in a nod to the “sen­su­ous sporti­ness” Hyundai fam­ily look in­tro­duced in the re­cently-launched Kona, the new­comer is sculpted into a far more eye-catch­ing shape with its slim­mer front and rear lights and bolder “cas­cad­ing” grille.

Un­der the guid­ance of Hyundai’s re­cently ap­pointed chief de­signer Luc Don­ck­er­wolke (pre­vi­ously of Lam­borgh­ini fame), the large SUV now sports a more pur­pose­ful look with what Hyundai de­scribes as hav­ing ath­letic mus­cles.

The more hand­some body perches atop a length­ened wheel­base that has lib­er­ated more space in the seven-seat in­te­rior of the 4,770m long ve­hi­cle. The boot is now ex­panded to a very roomy 547l, and has a handy un­der­floor nook to stash the de­tach­able cargo cover.

All the seats in the mid­dle and rear rows can fold flat to cre­ate a gi­ant cargo-swal­low­ing space of 1,625l. The third row is large enough for a pair of adults (just), and ac­cess to the third row is by means of a sim­ple one-touch sys­tem that moves the mid­dle seats for­ward.

Three Santa Fe de­riv­a­tives are avail­able, all with the same 2.2 tur­bod­iesel en­gine and eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, but of­fered in fron­twheel drive or all-wheel drive guises and three spec­i­fi­ca­tion grades. The four-cylin­der en­gine is car­ried over from the old range but its out­puts of 142kW and 440Nm are now more ef­fi­ciently de­liv­ered with the ad­di­tion of two ex­tra gears.

The gear ra­tio in the new eight-speed auto is widened to de­liver im­proved en­gine re­sponse dur­ing ac­cel­er­a­tion, while the longer top gear has re­duced fuel con­sump­tion to a claimed 7.8l/100km for the FWD ver­sions and 8.2l for the AWD.

With an 185mm ground clear­ance the Santa Fe’s ca­pa­ble of some rough-ter­rain work, es­pe­cially so in the AWD model which uses Hyundai’s HTRAC sys­tem to elec­tron­i­cally vary drive be­tween the front and rear wheels, and con­trols brak­ing be­tween the left and right wheels. There are three dri­vers­e­lectable modes Sport, Com­fort and Eco which vary the torque split be­tween the front and rear wheels.

Sus­pen­sion up­grades have im­proved the big SUV’s ride com­fort, while noise lev­els have been re­duced with ad­di­tional sound-dead­en­ing ma­te­ri­als.

The ve­hi­cle’s rigid­ity has also been im­proved and the ef­forts were ev­i­dent in the solid, flexfree feel of the Santa Fe I drove at the SA me­dia launch in Gaut­eng. The route had both tar and gravel roads, and the large ve­hi­cle cruised over it all in bump­soak­ing com­fort.

Its high-speed sta­bil­ity and good trac­tion on bumpy dirt roads in both the two- and four-wheel drive ver­sions were im­pres­sive, sug­gest­ing it will make a very ca­pa­ble ad­ven­ture ve­hi­cle for fam­i­lies who don’t want the jour­ney to end just be­cause the tar does.

The diesel en­gine is a gutsy per­former with plenty of smooth-sail­ing, easy-over­tak­ing torque. The Santa Fe seems well sealed too, and the in­te­rior wasn’t coated in dust af­ter its dirt-road so­journ.

All ver­sions are equipped with cli­mate con­trol, seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and voice­ac­ti­vated Blue­tooth, leather seats, cruise con­trol and a park­ing cam­era. Six airbags are stan­dard and the Santa Fe has a fives­tar Euro NCAP crash rat­ing.

The up­per two mod­els get ad­di­tional fea­tures like an elec­tronic tail­gate (with ad­justable height and open­ing speed), LED head­lamps (in­stead of halo­gen), key­less op­er­a­tion with push­but­ton start, blind-spot de­tec­tion, rear cross-traf­fic alert, and safe-exit as­sist which won’t let you open the door if there’s traf­fic ap­proach­ing from be­hind (as seen in Hyundai’s ad dur­ing the Fifa World Cup). The Rear Oc­cu­pant Alert in the Elite de­riv­a­tive mon­i­tors the rear seats to de­tect pas­sen­gers and alerts the driver when leav­ing the car.

The range-top­ping Elite ver­sion, in ad­di­tion to all-wheel drive, also lays on fea­tures like LED tail lights, dy­namic bend­ing head­lamps, front heated and ven­ti­lated seats, a panoramic sun roof and elec­tri­cally ad­justable front seats. Santa Fe 2.2 Pre­mium R599,900. Santa Fe Ex­ec­u­tive R659,900. Santa Fe Elite HTRAC R749,900.

Prices in­clude a sev­enyear/200,000km man­u­fac­turer’s war­ranty (con­sist­ing of the stan­dard five-year/150,000km war­ranty plus the ad­di­tional two-year/50,000km driv­e­train war­ranty ex­ten­sion), road side as­sis­tance, and a five-year/ 90,000km ser­vice plan.


Top: The much bolder new de­sign adopts Hyundai’s new ‘sen­su­ous sporti­ness’ look. Above: A seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and leather seats are part of the deal in all three Santa Fe ver­sions.

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