Hyundai heads upmarket with new Santa Fe SUV
First seen at the New York Motor Show in April, the car is described by its builders as a significant leap forward in desirability, refinement, interior quality and technology.
The Korean brand has for some time been emphasising a plan to move its perception to a more premium level, leaving behind its budget image of past years.
The Santa Fe is a prime candidate, as one of the brand’s most popular UK models.
British buyers have snapped up 37,500 examples of the Santa Fe since it first launched in 2001.
Last year was the brand’s second best n terms of UK sales with just over 4,200 sold – a third of all European Santa Fe sales in 2011.
On UK sale from 15th October, the new Santa Fe will start from £25,495 for the 2.2-litre CRDi Style two-wheel-drive model.
Power comes from a 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine with 194bhp and 311lbft of torque, put through either six-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Hyundai says fuel economy and emissions have been significantly improved – the 2WD version returns 47.9mpg combined and emissions fall below the benchmark 160g/km level for the first time, at 155g/km.
In 4WD form the figures are 46.3mpg and 159g/km, while the automatic model delivers 41.5mpg and 178g/km.
Three trim levels will be offered and the choice of five or seven-seat versions remains.
The entry-level Style comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured door handles and door mirrors with integrated indicator lights, reverse parking sensors, daytime running lights, self-levelling suspension on the seven-seater, and a rear spoiler with high-mounted brake light.
Air conditioning is standard along with Bluetooth with voice recognition, a multi-function steering wheel and Hyundai’s adjustable ‘Flex Steer’ system.
Safety aids fitted as standard include ESP, Hill Start Assist, Vehicle Stability Management, Trailer Stability Assist and seven airbags.
New to the model is the Active Bonnet System, which raises the bonnet by 60mm in the event of a pedestrian collision to help minimise the impact of head injuries.
Premium trim, from £28,995, adds touchscreen satellite navigation, a reverse parking camera, electric folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, roof rails, chrome-effect door handles and black or beige leather seat trim.
Premium SE is the range-topper at prices from £32,695 for the seven-seat four-wheel-drive manual.
Highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels, electric driver’s seat adjustment, a panoramic sunroof, Xenon headlights, keyless entry and front parking sensors.
According to Hyundai’s UK boss Tony Whitehorn, Santa Fe buyers are amongst the brand’s most loyal customers.
Whitehorn says; “We think that the New Generation Santa Fe will not only appeal to existing customers with its fresh design and improved levels of standard technology, but will attract a new range of buyers looking for a stylish, premium and authentic SUV.”
Words by: Andrew Charman