Hyundai has confirmed new details of a significant update for its Santa Fe flagship SUV, which brings a bold styling overhaul, fresh hybrid powertrains and an all-new platform in a bid to enhance the model’s premium appeal.
The seven-seater is the first model in Hyundai’s European line-up to move across to the ‘third-generation’ architecture, which already underpins the US-market Sonata saloon. The brand claims the new platform will offer “improved performance, efficiency and safety”.
Headline features include a new ventilation system that improves air movement through the engine bay, allowing heat to dissipate and improving the Santa Fe’s stability. Heavy components are also located lower in the chassis for a lower centre of gravity.
The SUV’s dynamic performance is also claimed to have been improved by relocating the steering arms, while reinforced sound- and vibration-absorption material throughout the chassis aids rolling refinement.
The 2020 Santa Fe will be available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains for the first time. The hybrid is expected to be the most popular variant of the new Santa Fe and will be available from launch. It mates Hyundai's new Smartstream 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a 59bhp electric motor and a 1.49kW lithium ion battery to produce 227bhp and 258lb ft. Both front- and four-wheel-drive configurations are available.
The four-wheel-drive-only PHEV option will arrive on the market next year. Already deployed in the Santa Fe's recently refreshed Kia Sorento sibling, it pairs the same 1.6-litre engine with a 90bhp electric motor for a combined output of 261bhp and 258lb ft. Hyundai is yet to confirm a WLTP-certified electric-only range figure, but the Santa Fe PHEV's 13.8kWh battery pack offers a claimed 40 miles per charge on the NEDC cycle.
Hyundai claims neither hybrid option loses out on passenger or load space, with the battery packs for each located under the front seats.
The new Smartstream petrol engine uses Hyundai's newly developed Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, which is said to improve performance by 4%, fuel efficiency by 5% and emissions by 12% over the outgoing 1.6-litre motor by varying how long the inlet and outlet valves remain open according to the driving situation. Also featured is a low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation function, which sends burnt gas back to the combustion chamber to cool the engine and reduce CO2 emissions.