What is it?
Hyundai’s seven-seat 4x4 has received a mild refresh to spruce up the styling and make it more in tune with the times.
It gets a revised bumper and light clusters, front and rear, plus a new grille, fog lights and exhaust. Much more important, however, is the new 2.2-litre turbodiesel ‘R’ engine, which it shares with the new Kia Sorento.
What’s it like?
The motor is a superb unit, undoubtedly the best in its class. It pulls well from just above idle, strongly above 1800rpm and spins easily to the red line. Combined with the new six-speed manual gearbox, it allows for easy progress and confident overtaking.
The longer top gear improves fuel economy (38.7mpg) and makes motorway cruising pleasantly relaxed. The engine has enough flexibility to let you leave the Santa Fe in sixth for most overtaking above 60mph. The gearshift in the six-speed 'box is quite notchy, even when the fluids are warm, and many buyers might be happier with the new auto ‘box.
The visual modifications sharpen up the Santa Fe’s character, giving it a more up-to-date feel, as does the standard USB/AUX socket. Seating might be more accurately described as 5+2. Although the third row of seats will hold children fairly comfortably, there is very little space for luggage, making the Santa Fe a seven-seater for school runs but not school holidays.
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the Santa Fe is what hasn’t changed from the original. The ride and handling are surprisingly fine, but it really grates to get into a two-tonne seven-seater with a brand new engine and drivetrain only to find that the steering wheel is too close the dash for a six-footer and, unbelievably, doesn’t adjust for reach.
Should I buy one?
Hyundai has lowered the pricing structure for the Santa Fe. This should be good news for company car buyers - along with the lower CO2 rating - and provide stiff competition for the new Kia Sorento, which is equipped with the same diesel engine and gearbox.