Striking, isn’t it? Hyundai has become a great deal bolder with its styling and the Hyundai Santa Fe is a beneficiary of that confidence. It has a large, gaping grille that avoids making it look like it has been holed and instead presents the world’s rear-view mirrors with a thoroughly modern, but perhaps slightly derivative, take on soft-roading.

The rest of its profile is less dramatic but equally refreshed, with a rising window line towards the back end giving a greater sense of purpose than before. That’s part of a deliberate ploy: Hyundai has made the Santa Fe longer, by 30mm (to 4690mm), while width is down by 10mm and the height is reduced, too, from 1760mm to 1680mm, to give it a look of greater dynamism.

Hyundai calls its design theme ‘Fluidic Sculpture’, so the Santa Fe looks like it’s meant to be moving all the time.

It’s meant to take the Santa Fe from soft-roader to crossover. Has that worked? Moderately. To most of our testers’ eyes, it still looks like one of the more sensible, grown-up cars in this class.

The new Santa Fe’s shell is torsionally 15 percent more rigid than its predecessor’s, and although its underpinnings are new, the mechanical layout is the one you’d expect. There is MacPherson strut front suspension, with a multi-link set-up at the rear. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine is mounted transversely and drives all four wheels (although, for the first time, a two-wheel-drive variant will be offered).

The majority of UK cars feature the optional six-speed automatic gearbox which brings with it a big loss in efficiency over the manual. Throw in the 4WD system, which pushes power to the rear on demand when the front wheels slip, and expect efficiency and emissions of 46.3mpg and 159g/km.

But substituting the manual gearbox for the automatic increases CO2 emissions to 178g/km and drops the economy to 41.5mpg. Still, those figures would have been remarkable for a 194bhp 2.2 turbodiesel until quite recently, and they’re achieved without the adoption of contemporary efficiency options such as electrical assistance for the power steering.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Find an Autocar car review