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Hyundai Santa Fe
The Top Gear car review:Hyundai Santa Fe
What is it like on the road?
In other markets Hyundai will offer a choice between two diesels and one petrol engine. It’s the petrol and the lesser of the two diesels, the 2.0-litre, we miss out on, leaving us with the 2.2-litre diesel from the outgoing car. Soon, Hyundai plans to add a full hybrid and plug-in hybrid version to the range to drive its CO2 average down.
The 2.2-litre CRDi gets the option of a new eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, and as tested, it’s a powertrain that suits the Santa Fe’s semi-premium aspirations and general workmanlike remit. What we really like is how Hyundai has resisted any temptation to try to make it remotely sporty.
The marketing men must’ve been locked in a cupboard, while the engineers drove around in the current Audi Q7. The Santa Fe excudes the same sort of vanilla driving expereince but laced with excellent refinement. The engine stays well supressed, and though this big bus has to punch a large hole in the air, wind noise is relatively low, apart from some whip around the mirrors. This makes the Santa Fe a relaxing long-distance companion.
So does the ride, which, again, does a comfort-focused job, not a Cayenne-aping one. The Santa Fe is by no means an entertaining car - in fact it’s quite dull to drive - but it’s endearingly fit for purpose and an impressive yardstick for just how far the Koreans have come in creating refined, polite family cars.
If you’re cross-shopping a Santa Fe with a Kodiaq (you should be), you’ll notice the Skoda is available with a much broader choice of engines. The lack of a lower-powered diesel or small-capacity turbo petrol might hurt the Santa Fe’s chances, though we’d put money on Hyundai eventually sticking its 1.6-litre turbo petrol in there.
We haven’t tried the manual, but the eight-speed auto is decisive and smooth-shifting, which is as much as you can/should ask from a car like this.