The Santa Fe is the latest model to receive the added dose of style and ability Hyundai has been giving its latest products.
Sharper lines, a new front-end, larger headlamps and 18-inch wheels have all helped to improve the SUV’s road presence, giving it a sportier and more contemporary look.
The quality of materials used also reflects the more upmarket direction intended for Hyundai, and it certainly looks and feels more expensive than its predecessor.
For the first time, the Santa Fe will also be available as a two-wheel drive version which means lower CO2 and fuel consumption. However, Hyundai believes 90% of customers will continue to opt for the four-wheel drive models, where engine tweaks mean an 11.5% improvement in efficiency on the new model.
Both versions are powered by an updated version of Hyundai’s 194bhp 2.2-litre VGT diesel engine, which produces 155g/km of CO2 and fuel economy of 47.9mpg in the manual two-wheel drive model, and 159g/km and 46.3mpg in manual four-wheel drive.
On the road, the Santa Fe is a little noisy when accelerating.The engine performs best when cruising while plenty of low-down torque means good off-road and towing capabilities.
It is more spacious than its predecessor and is 40mm longer and 5mm wider. It also has 10% more boot space (534 litres), while the roofline has been lowered by 45mm.
The Santa Fe has additional safety features such as electronic stability control, brake assist and emergency stop signal as well as a pop-up bonnet for pedestrian protection.
Standard equipment on the entry-level Style includes privacy glass, heated front seats and Bluetooth, while the Premium model includes leather seats, touch-screen navigation and a park guidance system. Top-of-the-range Premium SE trim adds 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, a panoramic roof and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
Previous Santa Fe drivers will also be happy to hear that the indicators have finally been moved to the left-hand side of the steering wheel.
However, all these improvements come at a price: the entry-level model costs £1,700 more than its predecessor, with P11D prices starting from £25,270.
Hyundai has identified the Santa Fe’s rivals as the Nissan X-Trail, Chevrolet Captiva, Vauxhall Antara, Mitsubishi Outlander and Honda CR-V, and currently outsells them all.
Honda has just launched a new CR-V (first drive, p63), but Hyundai believes the Sante Fe has the edge over this as it is available with either five or seven seats. The CR-V is available only with five seats.
The SUV segment has been through a period of change with more premium manufacturers coming into the sector, but Hyundai sees this as a good thing as it gives the brand more visibility for premium paying customers.
With a new contemporary look, improved emissions, added safety features and a step-up in quality, the new Santa Fe continues to demonstrate that Hyundai can match rivals for ability and desirability.