What is it?
The latest Santa Fe is an all-new version of the UK’s most popular Hyundai. The model is so popular here that the importers haven’t felt able to change its name, even though their policy for naming all other Hyundais has taken a completely new tack. Research shows it has better recognition than any other Hyundai, and sales since 2001 have totalled 37,500 units, a big tally for an import. Last year’s UK sales accounted for a third of deals across Europe.
The Santa Fe is a full-size SUV, more Range Rover than Freelander, and the updated version is a whole lot better looking. The new edition is also a little larger in all directions — except height — than the outgoing version. This has brought impressive gains in rear legroom (45mm) over its predecessor. A headroom improvement of 11mm is harder to explain, especially since the makers say their reduction in overall height is to make the model look more like a crossover (it doesn’t). For the first time there’s a two-wheel-drive Santa Fe, whose prices start at £25,495, around £1400 less than the cheapest 4x4 version.
There are also new seven-seater versions, impressively roomy in the third row even though they aren’t built on the longer-wheelbase chassis also shown in New York. Hyundai believes the stretched model wouldn’t sell here, and has capped its line-up model at a very reasonable £35,000, especially since top-spec Premium SE models have equipment that includes gadgetry like a reversing camera, a self-parking system and lane departure warning.