Hyundai Santa Fe Interior Layout & Technology | Top Gear
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Monday 25th September


What is it like on the inside?

Hyundai has done a good job on the interior of the Santa Fe – it feels upmarket without being the sort of cabin you’d be too scared to let the kids loose in, and there is storage galore. The door bins are on the small side, but the central storage is fairly cavernous and there’s a useful little shelf above the glovebox for pens and small change.

It’s worth noting that there are different set-ups for the diesel and electrified versions of the car. The diesel car gets an entirely conventional dashboard, with a low gearstick meeting aircon controls and rising up to a 7in/8in touchscreen flanked by buttons, whereas the hybrid and PHEV versions of the car have a higher ‘floating’ centre console that continues forward from the armrest and curves gently up to a 10.25-inch touchscreen, all the buttons concentrated in easy reach. The latter is more ergonomically pleasing and frees up yet more storage below.

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The diesel car is offered in Premium and Premium SE versions that broadly correspond to the spec levels of the electrified cars’ Premium and Ultimate specifications, although the latter cars do enjoy some fancier tech. 

The Santa Fe makes fairly easy work of its varying configurations: there are buttons in the boot to drop the middle of seats if you want to create a cavernous 1,649-litre load space (it’s a useful 571 litres normally), there are straps on the back of the third-row seats that lift them easily up into position. Sadly there’s nowhere to chuck the boot cover, which will probably end up languishing under the stairs. 

If you’re trying to get kids into the third row there’s an easy access button that flings the middle seat forwards in a catapult motion, but that’s only on the passenger side of the car, the logic being that you’ll pull up on the left-hand side of the road to safely disgorge your children. Try to dump them in a car park and you’ll flummox the whole system, but thankfully the middle row of chairs can be moved backwards and forwards on rails. It’s not as smooth on the driver’s side of the car but it can be done. One point to note on the Santa Fe is that while you get three Isofix points, one of these is the front passenger seat; you only get two in the middle row.

Flexible seating is de rigueur on cars like this these days, but it’s worth mentioning the middle row on the Santa Fe can slide backwards and forwards on a 60/40 split, as well as offering backrests that recline for a touch more leisure. A particularly nifty feature is the passenger talk function, where the driver can talk to the kids from their seat and it’ll play through the speakers (you can save your voice instead of shouting). In all electrified specs, the second row gets heated seats and a few USB plugs, while the folks in the boot get their own little aircon dial for some fresh air. It can get pretty ripe at the business end of a people carrier, so it’s nice that they’ve been thought of at the back. 

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The driver and passenger get heated, electrically adjustable seats in both Premium and Ultimate specifications, while the latter adds ventilation to the chairs. Those cars also get an upgraded sound system, wireless phone charging (as well as Apple/Android connectivity via USB) and an electric tailgate as standard. The Ultimate car also gets a panoramic electric sunroof, which lightens up the cabin nicely. We drove the latter spec with the optional Luxury Pack, which adds white Nappa leather across the cabin, a suede roof lining and aluminium inserts around the cabin. At £2,000 it’s probably not worth it, but it does make for a lovely ambience if you’re really desperate to outdo the neighbours.

The Ultimate-spec car also gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel display that renders itself superficially pointless by faithfully recreating a set of analogue dials. Turn on the indicators, though, and the digi-display immediately redeems itself by showing you a camera view looking back along whichever way you’ve just indicated you’re about to turn. It doesn’t replace the good old lifesaver look over your shoulder, but it’s a nifty safety feature that should help alert you to the presence of cyclists and moped delivery drivers creeping up your flank.

The surprise-and-delight feature on the Ultimate-spec car is the so-called ‘Remote Smart Parking Assist’, which allows you to fire up the car and move it backwards and forwards in and out of spaces. Useful if you have a tight garage to park in, but more likely to be used to show off to friends and relatives. All Santa Fes come with front and rear parking sensors, as well as rear cameras with positioning guidance. The higher-spec models add a surround view monitor that’s particularly good, stitching together camera views to give a top-down view that’s actually useful.

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