It’s hard to believe that this is the new Hyundai Santa Fe, so attractive are the new 4x4’s lines. Gone are the gawky face and ungainly balance of the old car – and younger brother Tucson – and in their place come clean and thoroughly European looks.
At 4675mm, the new car is 175mm longer than the outgoing model, enough to squeeze in an extra row of seats to join Chevrolet’s new Captiva in the budget seven-seater market. When not in use, the rearmost row folds into the boot floor, and cabin space is boosted by an extra 45mm overall width and 40mm height.
Most popular power unit is likely to be the new Euro 4-compliant D-2.2 second-generation common-rail turbodiesel. With a variable geometry turbo it produces 151bhp at 4000rpm and 253lb ft ot torque at 2000rpm and can be mated to new five-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Petrol fans can opt for an all-aluminium 2.7-litre V6 with 186bhp at 6000rpm and 183lb ft of torque at 4200rpm and a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed auto. Like the diesel’s, its drive is distributed via an electronically-controlled four-wheel-drive system, with a ‘4WD lock’ button giving a permanent 50:50 front:rear split for off-road use.
Under the fresh new skin is a thoroughly revised chassis with an 80mm longer wheelbase and significantly wider tracks (75mm front, 80mm rear). Hyundai promises more car-like refinement largely thanks to the new self-levelling multi-link rear suspension in place of the old car’s double wishbones. A revised version of the previous model’s MacPherson strut front suspension is carried over.
There are 16in disc brakes all round, ventilated to the front, with ABS and stability control as standard. Generous equipment levels include front, front side and curtain airbags, active head restraints, dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, heated door mirrors and front screen and 17in alloy wheels.