Currently reading: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe: hybrid and PHEV priced from £40,205
Large seven-seat SUV moves upmarket with fresh underpinnings, new hybrid powertrains and revamped styling

Hyundai has priced up two new hybrid versions of its significantly updated Hyundai Santa Fe flagship SUV, which brings a bold styling overhaul, fresh hybrid powertrains and an all-new platform in a bid to enhance the Hyundai'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”. 

The 2021 Santa Fe is available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains for the first time. The Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, priced from £40,205, is expected to be the most popular variant of the new model. 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, emitting between 145 and 168g/km of CO2. 

The four-wheel-drive-only Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV option, already deployed in the Santa Fe's recently refreshed Kia Sorento sibling, is priced from £45,715. It pairs the same 1.6-litre engine with a 90bhp electric motor for a combined output of 261bhp and 258lb ft. An13.8kWh battery pack offers a WLTP-certified EV range of 36 miles per charge, and combined CO2 emissions stand at 37g/km.

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 additions to the range are available in a choice of two trims: Premium and Ultimate. The former is equipped as standard with 17in alloy wheels, electric heated mirrors, LED lights all round, heated front and rear seats and dual-zone climate control, while the top-rung car gains extras including a 360deg parking camera, additional driver safety aids, remote park assist and a 12.3in digital gauge cluster with full head-up display. 

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. 

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.

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The Skoda Kodiaq rival has been completely overhauled visually as well, bearing a bold new design that, Hyundai says, combines “rugged presence and sophistication”. It's slightly larger all round than its predecessor, measuring 4785mm long, 1900mm wide and 1685mm tall. 

The front grille, which has been significantly enlarged to span the entire width of the car, features a new 3D mesh pattern and is flanked by a pair of distinctive T-shaped daytime running lights. The lower air intake sits within a new skid plate, while vertically orientated side vents aim to strengthen the car’s “upright and robust impression".

At the back, the Santa Fe has gained a new reflector bar that stretches between redesigned brake light clusters and a new lower bumper in the same style as the front end. The external redesign is finished off with wider wheel arches and new, aerodynamically optimised alloy wheel designs.

Inside, the new platform is said to allow for enhanced comfort and convenience over the outgoing car, with a focus on premium, soft-touch materials throughout. 

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The dashboard and centre console have been redesigned, and the current car’s 7.0in infotainment touchscreen has been ditched for a 10.25in unit as standard, while the analogue gauge cluster makes way for a new 12.3in digital unit. 

The gear selector is gone on automatic cars, too, replaced by a shift-by-wire button arrangement on the new floating centre console and a rotary Terrain Mode selector, which sets the vehicle up for driving on surfaces such as sand, snow and mud. 

There has been a focus on connectivity with this facelift and the new Santa Fe is compatible with Hyundai's Bluelink software, which allows owners to locate their car, check its fuel level or unlock it remotely via a dedicated app. Smartphone mirroring is equipped as standard, as is an upgraded wireless phone charger, voice recognition functionality and Hyundai Live - which offers up-to-date traffic information, finds nearby fuel stations and can send sat-nav data to your phone to allow you to finish a journey on foot. 

Safety features fitted as standard include adapative cruise control, blindspot collision warning, safe exit assist and lane-following assist. New for 2020 is a Highway Driving Assist function that uses sensors and map data to automatically adjust the car's speed in certain environments, and Remote Smart Parking Assist, which can be used to move the Santa Fe out of a parking space before climbing aboard.

Also new for 2020 is a top-rung Luxury trim aimed at "premium competitors", bringing bespoke 20in alloy wheels and colour-matching bumper and wheel-arch trim, rather than the black items found on lower-spec cars. Three different exterior colours are available, as is a choice of five interior colours. 

Andreas-Christoph Hoffman, vice-president of marketing and product at Hyundai Motor Europe, said: “With the range of new features, the new Santa Fe further progresses as a premium vehicle. It once again shows that we are listening to our customers and are constantly providing the latest features to serve their needs. 

“This is also the case regarding our powertrain line-up. With the introduction of the new Santa Fe, our whole SUV line-up will be available with electrified versions ranging from hybrid solutions to fuel cell.”


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Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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MaxTorque 3 June 2020

You know Hyundai means

You know Hyundai means business when they introduce an all-new platform for a model's mid-life refresh. That's some commitment
Tonrichard 3 June 2020

Don’t dismiss

I think anyone who still dismisses Kia is living in the past. Whilst it is difficult to equate them as a premium brand when a decade or so ago they were selling cheap cars on the scrappage scheme there is no hiding the great EVs Kia have introduced and the recent accolade of World Car of the Year for the Terraride - the Sorento's bigger brother. For quality and value - to say nothing of the 7 year warranty - Kia's are a serious proposition. 

ianp55 3 June 2020

Hyunda iSanta Fe

It' sure looks good and no doubt that Hyundai certainly know their stuff but please could the grille be toned down a bit for Europe