Hyundai Santa Fe 2,2 CRDI 4WD Elite
The fourth generation of Hyundai’s sleeper-hit Santa Fe adds even more style and space
THE new Santa Fe wears a face quite unlike that of its predecessor, as well as one fairly far removed from anything else in the Korean brand’s current portfolio. And this is the sort of approach we can expect from Hyundai from now on, with its new models set to receive individualistic styling rather than simply an adaptation of the latest “family” look.
In the case of this new Santa Fe, the fresh styling includes a bold lighting arrangement seeing the daytime LED lights positioned above the dual projector headlamps, with the latter gaining their own pods recessed into the front bumper.
There’s a subtle but defined crease that runs without wavering from the narrow lamps up front to the rear lights, while overall the tail-end treatment is neat, with narrow lenses curving round the flanks.
When it comes to next-generation model redesigns, the trend is almost always to go bigger. When the size reaches its inevitable limit, a new, smaller model range is often released. And so it is with the new Santa Fe. It’s longer by 70 mm and wider by 10 mm but no taller than before.
More significantly, the wheelbase has been increased by 65 mm, although the overhangs are shorter. This results in improved off-road clearance as well as more interior space. Road noise, meanwhile, has been reduced thanks to floorpan modifications and the use of additional sound-absorbing materials.
The interior mirrors the rather elegant external appearance and boasts all the features you might need without being overly fussy or complicated in its operation.
Rear-seat movement for access to the third row (the final two perches fold neatly into the floor) requires a mere push of a button and a forward shove. Controls are logically laid out, with the exception of the all-wheel-drive button in this model, which is sited on the facia to the right of the steering wheel (for right-hand drive) and therefore not easily visible.
With the Jordanian autumn smothering us with temperatures in excess of 36 degrees (with a high relative humidity), we appreciated both the dual climate control and the very efficient seat ventilation. Seating comfort is fine and both driver and passenger enjoy electrically adjustable perches in this Elite model.
The final two seats have improved headroom and are thus more comfortable than before. While not suitable for passengers over 1,7 metres tall, these rear pews also gain dedicated air-conditioning vents.
Appreciated features for the driver include a comprehensive head-up display, blind-spot and lane-change warnings, reardanger alert (with a 360-degree camera), wireless smartphone charger and six airbags.
As far as engines go, Hyundai is sticking with what works. While the company’s product manager admits the firm did investigate moving on from the 2,2-litre turbodiesel engine, Hyundai decided the best option was to retain the existing layout. That said, revisions to the piston design have resulted in less noise when cold, while power has increased slightly to 147 kw. So, too, has peak torque, to 440 N.m between 1 750 and 2 750 r/min.
What makes or breaks (figuratively, that is) a transmission is how cleverly it shifts gears. This is especially important with modern multi-ratio designs. Get it wrong and you end up playing a game of “guess which gear we’re in now”. Get it right and you can skip the arithmetic and let the computer sort it out. The new eight-speed (replacing the previous six-speeder) initially had me rather sceptical due to the possibility of continuous hunting up and down the range. Fortunately, the shift algorithms
are expertly judged because shifting is almost imperceptible … which is exactly what you want in a vehicle such as this. Paddle shifters are provided for those who enjoy flicking through the cogs manually and there is a gear readout to let you know where you are in the octave. The ratio spread is increased from before for better acceleration and cruising (first gear is a low 4,81:1 and the top-gear ratio 0,65:1).
The HTRAC all-wheel-drive system features three drive modes to adjust the traction to the wheels. In eco, the split is 100:0 front-to-back with a maximum transfer of 80:20. In comfort, you have an 80:20-split, with maximum transfer of 65:35, while in sport mode it’s 65:35 with up to 50:50. Prod- ding the lock button provides a permanent 50:50 split. The suspension has been stiffened and the travel has increased, while the steering design now has the electric motor mounted directly onto the rack.
Most of the time, we used either sport or comfort modes. In the eco setting, eighth gear could be selected at slower than 80 km/h where the engine speed was a mere 1 400 r/min (below the maximum torque’s arrival at 1 750 r/min). This resulted in some labouring of the powertrain, with the expected roughness. That’s not what a diesel engine likes, so we generally stayed away from eco mode. The fuel consumption during our trip was around 8,0 L/100 km.
Three specification levels will be offered in South Africa when
the Santa Fe debuts here imminently. The base model will be the front-wheel-drive Premium featuring halogen headlamps, a normal keyed ignition, remotefolding second row, a 3,5-inch display in the instrument cluster, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment pod (with Apple Carplay and Android Auto) and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The Executive model adds LED projector headlamps, keyless start, an electric opening tailgate and 19-inch wheels (with drive again sent exclusively to the front axle).
The flagship Elite furthermore gains heated and ventilated front seats, 19-inch alloys in a bespoke design, a seven-inch TFT screen between the dials and, of course, the HTRAC all-wheeldrive system.
We travelled a mix of coastal roads and windswept mountain passes on our way to the historical site of Petra. Fortunately, Hyundai has sorted out its electrically assisted steering system in terms of feedback. The ride quality is close to cosseting and bump absorption is adequate (although the larger wheels were not always adept at soaking up small bumps evident on the sometimes poorly surfaced roads between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea).
The sunroof is huge, with the front section opening and the rear glass fixed (an electrically powered screen allows you to block out the heat). The quality of materials is generally good, although the leather used for the seat covering cannot match that found in German rivals.
Overall, the new Santa Fe represents an impressive follow up to what was already a compelling seven-seater SUV. Pricing, of course, will be key – and we went to print before it was confirmed – but Hyundai has stressed this will be largely dependent on South Africa’s wavering exchange rate.
from left Tackling a twisty pass on the way to Petra; 19-inch alloys look great (this is the Elite model’s design); rear styling is particularly neat in the flesh.
clockwise from above The interior is just as accomplished as the exterior, with well-laid-out controls; the Santa Fe even offers a proper 220 V two-prong socket; seating all-round is more spacious than before; transmission now has eight ratios instead of six.