Fleet News

Hyundai Sante Fe CRTD GSi – 861 miles



IF you are a fan of fast driving machines which corner like racing cars and do the 0-60mph dash in seven seconds, you may as well stop reading here and now as what I have to say won't be of the slightest interest to you.

If, however, you have a penchant for big American-style 4x4s, my report may be of value, especially if you happen to be a fleet driver whose wallet errs on the tight side.

The Hyundai Sante Fe CRTD GSi is the latest addition to our long-term test fleet and while it may not have the cachet of a Land Rover or Mitsubishi Shogun, it reigns supreme as a penny pincher. You simply won't find this much car for such a price anywhere.

Sizing the Sante Fe up against the opposition is a trifle tricky. With a list price of £16,995 (with an extra £1,000 for the optional automatic transmission), it should be in competition with the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester. But one look at this car reveals that it falls into at least the next size up – you could almost get a RAV4 in the boot.

And it is not just the size that counts. The Hyundai is dripping with standard spec. The list includes central remote locking, ABS brakes, alloy wheels, electrically-operated everything, airbags, CD player with detachable front and metallic paint. The Sante Fe is beginning to make a good fleet case for itself.

This is Hyundai's first foray into the SUV market and was fashioned originally for the US market. The influence is clear – its lines are bulbous and macho and its attachments are flashy. British buyers will either love it or loathe it.

The Sante Fe comes with a choice of 2.4-litre or 2.7-litre petrol powerplants but for our test we chose the more frugal and fleet-friendly 2.0-litre common rail diesel unit.

One could be forgiven for assuming that this engine might leave the car underpowered. After all it is a very large lump for such a small motor.

But with just 800 miles on the clock, the unit is already running freely and is a delight to use – none of the old diesel death rattle and smooth power all the way up the rev range. And mated to an automatic gearbox, the whole driving experience is pretty pleasant if, like me, you like automatic gearboxes.

A glance at the test fuel consumption figure shows an under-achieving 26.6mpg, as opposed to the claimed 30.7mpg combined figure.

But I must admit that many of the 800 or so miles undertaken so far were blasts along various British motorways so the figure should improve dramatically when the car is engaged in more usual day-to-day motoring and the engine frees up.

Meanwhile, the cabin has a pleasant ambience and there are acres of room for five occupants and their luggage.

Seats are typically American – about six feet wide to cater for those burger-bloated backsides – and the ride is soft and squishy like you'll find in most US cars. This translates to a lot of roll on fast corners, although it's something you get used to after a week or two.

At least the Sante Fe never feels as though it is going to tip over.

Emitting 246 gm/km of carbon dioxide, the fleet driver will suffer a tax liability of the maximum of 35% of P11d price. That translates to a monthly figure of £114 a month for a 22% taxpayer. It's not brilliant, but could be much worse if it wasn't for the bargain basement price.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% taxpayer): £114 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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