From £25,850
Superb new diesel engine revitalises Hyundai’s seven-seat 4x4

Our Verdict

Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai Santa Fe makes for an excellent ownership proposition

Does this new Hyundai Santa Fe build on the recipe for success of its forebear?

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    Hyundai Santa Fe

    Improved, better-looking version of Korea’s best-known big SUV picks up where the old one left off
15 November 2009

What is it?

Hyundai’s seven-seat 4x4 has received a mild refresh to spruce up the styling and make it more in tune with the times.

It gets a revised bumper and light clusters, front and rear, plus a new grille, fog lights and exhaust. Much more important, however, is the new 2.2-litre turbodiesel ‘R’ engine, which it shares with the new Kia Sorento.

What’s it like?

The motor is a superb unit, undoubtedly the best in its class. It pulls well from just above idle, strongly above 1800rpm and spins easily to the red line. Combined with the new six-speed manual gearbox, it allows for easy progress and confident overtaking.

The longer top gear improves fuel economy (38.7mpg) and makes motorway cruising pleasantly relaxed. The engine has enough flexibility to let you leave the Santa Fe in sixth for most overtaking above 60mph. The gearshift in the six-speed 'box is quite notchy, even when the fluids are warm, and many buyers might be happier with the new auto ‘box.

The visual modifications sharpen up the Santa Fe’s character, giving it a more up-to-date feel, as does the standard USB/AUX socket. Seating might be more accurately described as 5+2. Although the third row of seats will hold children fairly comfortably, there is very little space for luggage, making the Santa Fe a seven-seater for school runs but not school holidays.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Santa Fe is what hasn’t changed from the original. The ride and handling are surprisingly fine, but it really grates to get into a two-tonne seven-seater with a brand new engine and drivetrain only to find that the steering wheel is too close the dash for a six-footer and, unbelievably, doesn’t adjust for reach.

Should I buy one?

Hyundai has lowered the pricing structure for the Santa Fe. This should be good news for company car buyers - along with the lower CO2 rating - and provide stiff competition for the new Kia Sorento, which is equipped with the same diesel engine and gearbox.

Join the debate

Comments
11

17 November 2009

At first glace I thought it was a Skoda - remarkably similar front grill. New engine sounds very good, shame about the facelift though - prefer the pre facelift model.

17 November 2009

I wonder if they are thinking of putting this engine into one of the hatchbacks Hyundai or Kia produce? it would produce serious real world performance and have practical running costs and usability. If they offered it in the five door body style I would be seriously interested in buying one. Which just goes to show how far the Koreans have progressed in the last 5 years.

17 November 2009

[quote Will86]prefer the pre facelift model.[/quote]

Negative comment on a Hyundai? Now you're for it. Brace yourself for the wrath of Hyundaismoke.

17 November 2009

Everything about this car is likable except one thing - the dash. It's so ugly and dated (and the steering wheel design?) it could be a real deal-breaker.

18 November 2009

I like this new refresh. I just wish they sold the diesel in the States.

18 November 2009

something doesn't add up.

what's so great about a 'superb new' engine that struggles to beat 10 secs. for 0-62mph? a lesser powered, similarly sized and weighted BMW X3 2 litre diesel manages the sprint a whole second faster(8.9 secs). also its top speed is 10mph down on the Bimmer(128mph). either the weight quoted is being way understated or that fancy new engine needs to go on a dyno to check if it really can pull the skin off a rice pudding.

Keohane et al are obviously easily impressed.

18 November 2009

Hyundai's official 0-62 times are notoriously pessimistic. If Autocar strapped the timing gear to one I'd expect it to knock at least a second off that time.

18 November 2009

[quote kairoo]what's so great about a 'superb new' engine that struggles to beat 10 secs. for 0-62mph? a lesser powered, similarly sized and weighted BMW X3 2 litre diesel manages the sprint a whole second faster(8.9 secs). also its top speed is 10mph down on the Bimmer(128mph)[/quote]

The question is, how relevant those figures are to normal driving. If you think 0-62 mph time tells you the whole story, well, it doesn't.

25 November 2009

"Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Santa Fe is what hasn’t changed from the original. The ride and handling are surprisingly fine, but it really grates to get into a two-tonne seven-seater with a brand new engine and drivetrain only to find that the steering wheel is too close the dash for a six-footer and, unbelievably, doesn’t adjust for reach."

Why do you keep saying this, it does and always has adjusted for reach and height, I am 6' 2", I drive one with the steering wheel fully extended and it is very comfortable.

25 November 2009

[quote kairoo]what's so great about a 'superb new' engine that struggles to beat 10 secs. for 0-62mph? a lesser powered, similarly sized and weighted BMW X3 2 litre diesel manages the sprint a whole second faster(8.9 secs). also its top speed is 10mph down on the Bimmer(128mph). [/quote]

The X3 is based on the 1 series platform and is a much narrower and shorter car, a better comparision would be the X5. The SF weights 2.6 tonnes the X3 1.8 tonnes, it nearly 40% heavier.

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