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The all-new Santa Fe lands just in time for that festive drive

Hyundai's Santa Fe, the flagship model of the brand, has landed in South Africa just in time for the festive season.
Hyundai’s Santa Fe is the all-new seven-seater fourth-generation SUV with a new, premium design and advanced technology, amongst others, that makes it worthy of the model’s flagship status in the brand’s local vehicle range.
Image by Naresh Maharaj

It’s bigger and better, which means a roomier interior and stacks of comfort features. The SUV now boasts a more aggressive stance and Hyundai attributes this new athletic designed vehicle to the recently appointed chief designer, Luc Donckerwolke, who previously was with the Lamborghini stable.

Premium design

The design of the Santa Fe identifies with the rest of the Hyundai family. The SUV is an eye catcher with its cascading grille and composite headlights, that has been tapered into a more slimline look when compared to previous models. It has a very wide bold stance, yet an aesthetic and appealing to the eye, reinforcing the flagship status of the Hyundai SUV line-up.

Three Santa Fe SUV derivatives are available with the common thread being that all are equipped with the same 2.2 turbo-diesel engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission and is available in front wheel (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The turbo-diesel engine can deliver 142kW maximum power and 440Nm of maximum torque.
Image by Naresh Maharaj

The addition of the two extra gears will certainly be welcomed by Santa Fe aficionados. This means improved fuel consumption especially with the seventh and eight gears coming into play, which relaxes the engine's revs. Based on this alone, fuel consumption has improved to 7.8l for the FWD and 8.2l/100km for the AWD, this according to Hyundai.

The improved and widened gear ratio also adds to improved engine responses during start, acceleration and overtaking. I was able to tramp on the accelerator for that much more power when overtaking.

Taking the Santa Fe off road

The off-road handling capabilities were more than impressive. I did not need a second invitation to take the Santa Fe off the beaten track and to a more rugged pot-holed terrain on the KZN media launch rotation. The SUV was equal to the tasks in more ways than one. Ordinary vehicles might not have made it through the other side of the rocky, rough, craggy and uneven terrain of the KZN North Coast (Glendale to be precise), but this vehicle was like a hot knife through butter. On a few instances, on the uneven terrains, I was convinced that the SUV was just on three wheels.
Image by Naresh Maharaj

The ground clearance of 185mm also assisted in the underside of the SUV not touching the off-road surface. The Santa Fe handled these rugged terrains with relative ease, especially in the AWD model which uses the HTRAC system to vary the torque electronically between the front and rear wheels and controls braking between left and right wheels.

The three driver selectable modes are Sport, Comfort and Eco - all at a touch of a button and without the driver taking eyes off the road. Fifty percent of the torque delivered to the rear wheels in Sports mode. In Comfort mode, 35% of torque is sent to the rear wheels and in Eco mode H-Trac provides improved fuel efficiency by sending power to the front wheels only. The traction on the dirt and gravel roads was very evident with the Santa Fe gliding over, quite literally, over the huge potholes and dongas, especially and quite predictably in the Sports and Comfort modes.

Touch of a Button

The one feature that grabbed my attention right at the outset was the ease with which the rear seats were able to fold over, all at the touch of a button. This makes getting in and out of the vehicle easier than ever before. Remember, this is a seven-seater and if you do have instances when you have a full load of passengers, jumping in and out is made that much easier.

The top of the range Elite model had an all-wheel drive, LED tail lights, dynamic headlamps that turns into corners, front heated seats, paddle shifts, panoramic sunroof and electrically adjustable front seats.

Rear-door retractable side curtains; a push-button keyless start function and folding side mirrors form part of the standard features package - for both the Elite and Executive derivatives.

The first Santa Fe was launched in 2001 and 5,331 units have been sold in South Africa since then. With the vastly improved and innovative new release with plenty of safety features, Hyundai is looking at increased sales of their flagship model.

The new-generation Santa Fe has been introduced in South Africa in three derivatives:
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Premium automatic (with front-wheel drive);
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Executive automatic (with front-wheel drive); and
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Elite automatic (with HTRAC all-wheel drive).

    So how much do they go for?

    Pricing (incl VAT):
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Premium automatic – R599,900
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Executive automatic – R659,900
  • Santa Fe R 2.2 Elite automatic – R749,900

    Prices include a 7-year/200,000km manufacturer’s warranty (consisting of the standard 5-year/150,000km warranty plus the additional 2-year/50000km drivetrain warranty extension).
    An additional part of the package is a 5-year/90,000 km service plan and roadside assistance for 5 years or 150,000km.
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    About Naresh Maharaj

    Naresh Maharaj is a petrol head who loves cars and writing about them. He is also a Member of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists. Naresh is also an international sports correspondent and an acclaimed corporate MC and voice-over artist. Naresh is a sports/news producer for community radio stations and also an award-winning sports journalist. Contact Naresh on .