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Review: New Hyundai Santa Fe
Driven February 2014
First there was the Terracan, Hyundai’s take on a big size SUV. It didn’t sell too well in India. Then there came a smaller SUV called Tucson. That didn’t do too well either. It finally brought in a third midsize SUV – Santa Fe – a position between the Tucson and the Terracan. It did just about better. It was a very capable SUV probably bogged down only with the badge that didn’t exactly reek of luxury some years back and a rather odd design.
Of course, Hyundai has since turned a new leaf. Marketing terms like Fluidic design and ‘storm edge’ have been used to describe new-age cars from the Korean firm. But don’t be put off by them because the cars look modern and racier. While its flagship ‘luxury’ sedan Sonata is struggling to leave dealerships, the slightly smaller Elantra is flying out of showrooms giving it a sot of confidence with cars closer to those made by traditional luxury car makers from Europe.
The third-generation Santa Fe, unlike its predecessor, will be assembled in India and not imported as a CBU, and that is proof of the new age confidence.
The new car is a much bolder and edgier design than its predecessor. Gone are the anonymous, bulbous curves and panels and instead we have nicely sculpted and flowing lines that run all along the car. The new car looks less tall boy and more squatter with a sleek sloping A-pillar. The third window has been cleverly designed into a triangle of sorts and gives the profile a coupe-like effect. The front is characterised with an in-you-face hexagonal grille and nice swept back headlamps. Protruding bumpers and an exotic-looking fog lamp set-up complete the classy face of the Santa Fe. It no longer looks anonymous.
Interiors are well-laid out with lots of space and cubby holes. The Santa Fe comes in a standard 7-seat configuration. Practically every seat can be adjusted independently making it as flexible as a big SUV gets. Legroom in the first two rows are quite adequate. The third bench is more of an emergency seat. But when not in use it folds flat into the floor giving a huge boot area of the luggage to be loaded. Surprisingly though, there is no standard parcel tray or standard fitments to keep the luggage bound.
The dash looks modern with an array of switches and dials. It has the typical waterfall layout with all action happening towards the centre. Typically, Hyundai has specced this well with a touchscreen multimedia system with integrated reversing camera, climate control with separate compressor for the rear seats. The seats are comfortable, especially the second row which recline at a very comfortable angle. Among all the seats, only the driver’s gets power controls, which is a bit stingy on Hyundai’s part.
Under the hood the car has a carryover 2.2-litre CRDi unit mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed H-matic automatic transmission. The engine has a lot of grunt with 194bhp and a robust 436 Newton-metre of torque. This helps to propel the car into serious speeds. The start is sluggish thanks to a lazy transmission but once it builds speeds, it toggles between the various gears with the good effect. The car is front-wheel drive in standard mode with the rear wheels coming into action when situation demands. There is a switch to manually override the two-wheel mode and that's when the car feels very grippy to use.
The steering feel can be modulated between super-assist (Comfort), to Normal to slight heavy (Sport). Typically, it isn’t very precise and a bit on the lighter side even when in Normal model. But where it lacks in communication it makes up with a surprisingly agile body. Body roll is minimal and you can corner with confidence at most speeds. Also what makes the new Santa Fe even more lovable is the exemplary ride that makes little work of all the tiny potholes and road joints thrown at it.
In its new avatar, the Santa Fe does justice to being called the new Hyundai flagship in India. It’s a wholesome SUV that ticks all the right boxes. And that includes the price, which thanks to some clever cost-cutting, puts the car at around roughly Rs 30 lakh on-road. If you need a proper new-age Sports Utility vehicle and you wouldn’t care too much of badge bragging at social outings, the new Hyundai Santa Fe makes the grade.
LxWxH: 4690x1880x1690mm, Ground Clearance: 185mm, Fuel tank: 64 litres, Fuel efficiency (claimed): 14kpl (AT), 13kpl (MT), Engine Displacement: 2,199cc CRDi, Power: 194bhp, Torque: 436Nm, Gearbox: 6MT/6AT, Drive: 2WD/4WD (optional), Tyre: 235/60 R18, Price: Rs 26.3 lakh (2WD MT), Rs 27.15 lakh (2WD AT), Rs 29.25 lakh (4WD AT) (all prices, ex-Delhi)
A much-nicer looking SUV that is an effortless package of power, comfort and reasonable off-road capability. Good value.