Hyundai's Santa Fe - Compelling New Thinking New Possibilities
by Carl Wepener
* Prices as at date of publishing
Three derivatives will be available in the South African market and very little sets them apart, for they look the same – except for the wheels and some small differences. The entry model is a front-wheel drive and is known as the Santa Fe Premium. Then there are the Premium all-wheel-drive derivatives, being the Executive and the top-of-the-range Elite. Both the Executive and the Elite have a third row of seats that can be folded away to leave a flat, versatile and usable space for luggage. The interior of the Santa Fe is modern, well sculptured, attractive and ergonomically well laid out.
Quality is very good and comfort is excellent. The driving position is also great, the view all around is good, and the rear-view camera is a great help when reversing. The steering is adjustable for rake and reach, and most of the controlling can be done from the steering wheel. The instrument cluster is housed in a very sporty-looking cylindrical shell and information is displayed on an advanced TFT LCD instrument cluster. Leather upholstery and high-gloss finishes round off the very stylish and functional interior.
As a leisure vehicle with high ground clearance, the all-wheel-drive system in both the Executive and Elite and a frugal, efficient turbo-diesel engine make any trip, whether on or off-road, a pleasurable experience. The ride quality on all surfaces is excellent. Attractive alloy wheels are standard – 17-inch rims are fitted to the Premium derivative, while the Executive comes with 18-inch rims and the Elite with 19-inch rims. A full-alloy spare wheel is located under the cargo floor. The Santa Fe is very practical and has many comfort features that can only be had at a substantial price among its competitors. It exudes quality and luxury and provides excellent legroom and headroom in the second row of seats. The second row can also be set for rake and moves forward to give entry to the third row of seats. Luggage space is 1 003 litres in the 5-seater and 994 litres in the 7-seater vehicles. There are more than enough storage holders and the glove box is cooled. All models come with Dual Zone Climate Control, with a switch to activate the air conditioner for the second- and third-row passengers.
Some of the other items that are normally found on much more premium-type models are automatic, electric folding mirrors, an automatic rain sensor with speed-sensitive windscreen wipers, and a full-length, panoramic sunroof that is standard on the Elite. There is a superb audio system with four speakers and two tweeters. The system, with its radio and CD player, includes ports for AUX cables and iPod and a USB connection for the use of various music and audio sources. The audio system can be operated via remote controls on the steering wheel. Cruise-speed control can also be set via buttons on the steering wheel. The high-performance turbo-diesel engine is equipped with a smooth, quiet and efficient 2,2 litre, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel for all three derivatives, with a high-efficiency electronic turbocharger. The 16-valve, R2.2 engine with double overhead camshafts delivers 145kW at peak power output at 3 800rpm and loads of torque that reach a maximum of 436Nm when the engine runs between 1 800 and 2 500rpm.
Fuel-consumption figures of 8l/100km for the Premium FWD and 8,3l/100km for the AWD Executive and Elite derivatives have been recorded in combined European testing cycles, and our own figures were very near to these. On a high-speed run, we returned 8.9l/100km on the AWD. Gear changes are smooth, with the automatic 6-speed transmission offering the option of manual shift. The all-wheel-drive system in the Executive and Elite delivers power through the front wheels under normal road conditions, but engages the rear wheels automatically when conditions demand it. It also features a 4WD lock-mode selector that distributes power in a 50:50 ratio to front and rear wheels for increased off-road capability, while automatically switching to ‘Auto’ mode to protect the drive system when the vehicle speed increases to 40km/h. A Flex Steer system offers three steering modes that are selected via a switch on the steering wheel, enabling the driver to choose Comfort, which I found to be ‘soft’, Normal, which gave good feedback, and Sport, which made the steering stiffer. Cutting-edge preventive safety systems provide optimal driving stability and require minimum effort from the driver, yet deliver maximum results under virtually any road condition.
The introduction of these safety systems and technologies has earned the all-new Santa Fe a full house of five stars in the stringent test regimen of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). Active safety systems include Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to help the driver maintain control over the car in an emergency. The Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) system is standard in all derivatives. The Downhill Brake Control (DBC), which helps with vehicle control during steep forward movement, complements this. On slippery roads, the Traction Control System (TCS) prevents the wheels from spinning in an uncontrolled manner, while Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) is also standard and prevents asymmetrical braking by applying braking force to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter overseer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer. VSM promotes stable car manoeuvring and optimal safety during potential skidding situations.
The Santa Fe is fitted with six air bags – one each for the driver and front passenger, and side impact and curtain air bags. All car occupants are protected by three-point, inertia-reel seat belts. Remote, keyless entry is a feature on all the derivatives, while the Executive and Elite offer a Smart Key with push-button start. Two other features that make the Santa Fe a very secure vehicle are central locking and the auto-locking doors that are activated at a speed of 15km/h. The Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) is available on the Elite derivative and frees up interior space, while improving convenience. The EPB also works with Automatic Vehicle Hold (AVH) to provide greater control at traffic lights and when pulling away on an incline.
Warranty and Service Plan
Hyundai has earned a reputation in South Africa for setting a vehicle-warranty benchmark. The new Santa Fe also boasts Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000km manufacturer’s warranty, plus 5-year/150 000km roadside assistance and a 5-year/90 000km service contract. Service intervals are at 15 000km.
Pricing of the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe range is as follows:
Santa Fe R2.2 Premium FWD 5-seater R434 900
Santa Fe R2.2 Executive AWD 7-seater R459 900
Santa Fe R2.2 Elite AWD 7-seater R499 900
The Santa Fe is an enjoyable SUV which is very capable off-road. We drove through thick sand and on rocky roads without any problems. It will be able to go most places where other hardcore 4x4s can go, but it’s not meant to be a hardcore 4x4. Performance and ride quality cannot be faulted, and, whether the Santa Fe is operating on tar or gravel, the ride is enjoyable and relaxed.
This is the third-generation Santa Fe and it is by far the most striking, luxurious and refined when compared with its predecessors. The ‘fluidic sculpture’ design that now extends through the brand offers a new perspective to the Santa Fe. Consequently, the Santa Fe has become a spectacular-looking SUV that does not have to stand back for any of its rivals in the looks department.
Hyundai says “the exterior of the all-new Santa Fe invokes the impression of irrepressible motion through the model’s unique ‘Storm Edge’ styling, which captures the strong and dynamic images created by nature during the formation of a storm”. The futuristic design, with its bold, hexagonal front grille, lets people know immediately that the all-new Santa Fe is part of the Hyundai family. Rectangular lenses for the front Xenon headlights, LED side repeaters in the rear clusters, gloss-black finishing on the door frames and pillars, a sporty twin muffler with double exhaust tips, a diffuser-style moulding beneath the bumper, and an LED high-level brake light are what really make the Santa Fe attractive and stand out in the crowd. Add to that all of the ‘extras’ included in the package and the Santa Fe is really value for money.