Hyundai’s Santa Fe: An undiscovered jewel among SA’s SUVs
After receiving a substantial facelift and upgrade in 2010, the Santa Fe displayed at the 2011 Johannesburg International Motor Show sports a few more refinements that makes this top-of-the-range SUV from Hyundai an even more formidable competitor – offering outstanding a class-leading powertrain, more style and quality inside and out, and a handful of surprise and delight features.
Newly added to the long list of standard features in the Santa Fe are:
A new alloy wheel design;
Front and rear skid plates;
Downhill Brake Control (DBC); and
Black roof rails in place of the previously silver coloured ones.
These are added to the host of features already offered in the present Santa Fe since its launch in 2010, including:
A DOHC turbodiesel delivering 145 kW and 436 Nm;
Overall fuel consumption of 8,3 litres/100 km and CO2 emissions of 220 g/km;
A 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode;
Restyled bumpers and grille, 18-inch wheel/tyre combination;
Keyless access via “smart-key” remote, along with stop/start button;
Reverse camera, sunroof, electric front seats and dual-zone climate control all standard;
Six airbags, stability/traction control, all-disc braking with full electronic/hydraulic assistance;
All-wheel-drive with centre differential lock standard; and
Five year/150 000 km manufacturer’s warranty, plus five year /150 000 km roadside assistance and five year/90 000 km service contract.
The Santa Fe is available in five and seven-seater versions, both with four-wheel-drive and a double overhead camshaft, 16-valve turbodiesel with a variable geometry turbocharger and common rail direct injection.
On a strict diet of 50 parts per million the 2 199 cc turbodiesel engine delivers peak power of 145 kW at 3 800 r/min. with maximum torque of 436 Nm already on tap from 1 800 r/min. This figure remains unchanged all the way to 2 500 r/min. Power starts to taper off slowly and the engine will rev willingly to 4 500 for a wide and user-friendly power band.
A further key change to the drivetrain is the six-speed automatic transmission with a sequential “sports” gate. This wide choice of ratios makes the Santa Fe far more versatile in terms of driving environment and at one end of the scale improves performance off-road (both in terms of its ability to climb steeper ascents and for improved engine braking control on descents) as well as maximising the benefits of the engine’s impressive headline numbers.
For even more driver control, the 2012 model year Santa Fe features Hyundai’s Downhill Brake Control (DBC) that uses a Hydro-Electronic Control unit to receive information from the wheel speed, steering angle and acceleration sensors to maintain control and speed on steep declines without having to use the brake.
In the traffic the Santa Fe has zesty responses while the close ratios ensures impressive overtaking ability with the additional gear resulting in effortless cruising. When in a hurry, the Santa Fe could dash to 100 km/h in about 9,5 seconds and will only run out of momentum at 185 km/h. Fuel consumption of 8,3 litres per 100 km in mixed conditions is achievable.
The Santa Fe is has a lean, attractive exterior sporting body-coloured mirrors with their integrated turn signals, and 18 inch wheels. In darker body colours the chrome trim strip in the door handles is readily evident, adding a classy touch.
The rear clusters imitate the projector-style front lights and there are two distinctive red circles for park and stop lights, surrounded now by a clear plastic with an appealing jewelled look. The rear bumper shows swooping lines creating an ever-more sleekness.
On of many surprise and delight details in the revamped interior is the camera that communicates with a 3,5 inch LCD screen positioned in the rear view mirror, activating when reverse gear is selected to give the driver a panoramic view of what’s behind the.
Another standard luxury feature is the stop/start button to the right of the steering column and a slot in the centre console for the smart key. A traditional key is no longer required and the device does not need to be in its slot for the engine to be started.
With its generously-proportioned cabin there is generous leg room, shoulder room, and headroom available and even the optional third row are able to accommodate children well into their teens. With the emergency brake moved to the footwell, there’s more convenience space than before and a large central storage compartment is linked to the air conditioning.
Luggage with second row seats up is 969 litres but with all the seats folded down (the middle row collapses flat against the floor allowing for bulky items to be carried) luggage volume is an impressive 2 247 litres. The full-sized spare is kept below the vehicle. The Santa Fe has a towing capacity of 750 kg, increased to 2 000 kg for a braked trailer.
On a purely aesthetic level, the facia, centre console and doors are highlighted with a contemporary carbon fibre trim, and the instruments now have chrome bezels around them and the satellite controls are now more elegantly integrated with the steering wheel spokes.
Full-leather, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a six-disc entertainment system with amplifier and able to interface with virtually every multimedia device known to homo electronicus, cruise control, steering wheel satellite controls, full-function driving computer, one-touch up/down driver’s window (with safety stop), electrically-adjusted front seats with a height and reach adjustable steering column all confirm that the Santa Fe is an SUV endowed with the comfort and convenience of its occupants high up on the list of priorities.
But so too is the security of all who travel in a Santa Fe. Already of a high standard, no further additions have been required and the repertoire of six airbags, active headrests, stability/traction control and all-disc braking with ABS, EBD and BAS assistance in addition to a reinforced passenger cell bookended by extra-long crumple zones ensures maximum safety.
Safety extends to additional features such as front and rear fog lamps, and a 4×4 system which while perfectly capable of driving the rear axle via a central clutch when required, also gives the driver the option of manually locking a centre differential to “force” an equal distribution of drive torque to all the wheels.
Safety and peace and mind generally go hand in hand and that’s why the Santa Fe is sold with Hyundai’s Five Year/150 000 km Warranty that includes roadside assistance for the same time/distance parameters. In addition there is a 5 year/90 000 km service contract as part of the price.