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Hyundai Santa Fe Review & Test Drive

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Hyundai Santa Fe received an update in 2014 and is expected to get another dose of update soon. The current generation model is a step-up juxtaposed to the predecessor, with improved exterior and interior styling. On the feature front, it is richer, loaded with a host of high-tech equipment. Hyundai has retained the engine set-up, available with a choice of manual and automatic gearbox.

Built on Hyundai’s voguish ‘Fluidic’ design language, Santa Fe is a contemporary looking SUV that also lends styling cues to Creta SUV. The SUV, priced in the range of Rs 28.5 lakh to Rs 31.9 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) competes with popular models in the segment including Toyota Fortuner, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Ford Endeavour. In terms of looks, Santa Fe is clearly a winner, with chiselled front and rear profile. Interior too has been worked upon meticulously to match the aggressive exterior. As for engine options, the SUV is available with a 2.2 litre diesel unit mated to a six-speed manual and automatic transmission with an option for a 4WD variant.

 

EXTERIOR AND STYLE

The outer appearance of this Hyundai Santa Fe sports utility vehicle is quite attractive. Its strong and rugged body structure is fitted with a number of external aspects that adds to its overall appearance. Starting with the front fascia, it looks quite aggressive with features like a bold radiator grille and a stylish headlight cluster. This grille is treated with a lot of chrome and it further embedded with an insignia of the company in the center. The sleek bonnet looks quite attractive with a couple of visible character lines on it. Just below this, it has a body colored bumper that is fitted with a wide air intake section for cooling the powerful engine quickly. It is accompanied by a black protective cladding for preventing the vehicle from minor damages. This air dam is flanked by a pair of round shaped fog lamps along with LED positioning lamp that adds to the visibility. Furthermore, it has a large windscreen that is made up of toughened laminated glass and is equipped with a couple of intermittent wipers. The headlight cluster is in a trendy design and integrated with high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps that have washer function as well. This vehicle has an attractively designed side profile that features chrome plated door handles body colored outside rear view mirrors. Its ORVMs are electrically adjustable and are integrated with LED side turn indicators. There are also roof rails available with black color finishing that gives it a sporty appearance. The neatly crafted wheel arches are fitted with a modish set of alloy wheels, which are covered with high performance tubeless radial tyres. The rear end has a large boot lid that further includes the company’s emblem engraved on it and a thick chrome strip. Its radiant tail light cluster is in stylish design and features LED based reverse and brake lights along with turn indicator. The wide windshield comes with a defogger along with wash and wipe function. It has a sporty rear spoiler that is fitted with a high mounted stop lamps, which not only adds to its appearance but also enhances the safety quotient. The body colored bumper is integrated with a couple of bright fog lamps, while the dual exhaust pipes are treated with chrome. It is also accompanied by a silver cladding that prevents it from minor damages. The sleek roof top is mounted with an antenna that ensures better reception of FM radio signals. In addition to these, it is also equipped with illuminated door scuff plates with metallic insert and chrome finished window sill that adds to its elegance.

 

INTERIOR AND COMFORT

Inside, Hyundai updated the center stack with new button placement, which complements a full suite of infotainment options.First up is a standard 5.0-inch color LCD screen for audio control on the Santa Fe Sport. There’s also a new 7.0-inch touchscreen, which comes standard on the three-row Santa Fe and is available for the Sport. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation is also available.

Both the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport are compatible with Android Auto, offering smartphone integration for Google Maps, streaming audio, voice-controlled web search, and over 40 different apps. Smartphones running Android 5.0, Lollipop and higher are compatible.Better tunes comes courtesy of an available Infinity premium sound system, with 12 speakers, plus QuantumLogic Surround sound technology and Clari-Fi Music restoration technology.Standard features include a remote keyless entry system with alarm, steering-wheel mounted controls for the sound system and cruise control, and Bluetooth hands-free phone integration.

Additional options include a power passenger seat with height adjustment and a panoramic sunroof. The three-row Santa Fe gets an available third-row USB outlet. Step up to leather upholstery and you’ll also get woodgrain trim with a matte finish. Finally the Santa Fe Limited gets new second-row cupholders.

 

ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE

Powering the Hyundai Santa Fe is the third generation R-Series 2.2-litre CRDi engine which produces 197 PS of peak power at 3800 RPM and a maximum torque of 420 NM (manual variant) at 1800-2500 RPM. The 4WD Automatic version gets a marginally higher torque rating of 436 NM at 1800-2500 RPM. The new R-Series engine is essentially the same 2.2-litre motor which has been reworked to improve fuel efficiency by reducing friction. The engine operates at 1800 bar pressure which helps in generating high torque at the lower end of the tachometer. The new R-Series also claims to be having better NVH levels than before. Mated to this engine are two transmissions. The 6-speed manual transmission is available only in the 2WD version and offers basic level of kit. Clearly, buyers prefer auto boxes and Hyundai has offered its 6-speed automatic transmission in both 2WD and 4WD trims.

We drove the top of the line 4WD version on the drive. Power delivery from the engine is quite linear and power is available right from the word go, thanks to the electronic variable geometry turbocharger (e-VGT) which makes torque available right from 1800 RPM which means lesser gearshifts in the city thereby improving fuel efficiency. The single clutch autobox is quite slick with shifts with barely any lag for a single clutch transmission but then there are times when you want it to downshift in a jiffy and it does take its own time. There is a manual mode on the gearbox too, in which it will hit the rev limiter before upshifting to the next gear amid some noise. The engine does tend to get a bit noisy around the redline. From an enthusiast’s perspective, the manual would be more fun to drive. All said and done, the Santa Fe sprints to 100 km/hr in less than 10 seconds which is pretty good for a vehicle in this category. The ARAI certified fuel efficiency for the manual and automatic is 14.74 km/l and 13.01 km/l respectively. We reckon the 4WD should return around 9 km/l in the Indian driving cycle.

 

RIDE AND HANDLING

Hyundais have never been known for exemplary ride and handling, and sadly, the Santa Fe is no exception. Though it’s safe to say that this SUV is dynamically the most sorted car Hyundai has produced, it still isn’t quite close enough to the peerless standards of European cars. Though the steering is light and doesn’t call for too much effort, it feels listless and weights up in a very inconsistent way. The ride on the UK-spec car that we drove was soft and quite comfortable on most surfaces, but the flipside is a fair amount of body roll and some sloppiness through corners.However, Indian customers won’t be too fussed if the Santa Fe doesn’t deliver class-leading dynamics. That’s never been a priority for Indian SUV owners. What they want is looks that stop traffic, a cavernous interior, loads of equipment and an effortless driving experience. The Santa Fe delivers in all these areas.

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SAFETY FEATURES

The Santa Fe’s advanced traction cornering control system utilises torque vectoring between the four wheels and braking power to reduce or eliminate understeer. The system proved its worth on certain tight twisty sections on the roads to Athirapally and I can vouch that the dynamics were not just up to date but also fun.Coming around finally to the features, the Santa Fe has a whole array of comfort and convenience features to offer to its consumers. Of significant interest would be the six airbags on the safety front alongside the host of dynamic control systems. You also get LEDs and high intensity discharge headlamps. The driving lamps have a cornering function in them and then there is the cruise control and the air conditioning for all three rows of seats and a host of controls on the steering wheel and what not. The list is exhaustive and rich.

 

CONCLUSSION

So, the new Santa Fe is truly generations ahead of the SUV it replaces, no matter what aspect you look at. But, it is anything but Dabang. It’s more like a showcase (and a good one at that) of what Hyundai is capable of. It is Hyundai’s only ticket to be seen as upmarket, which, needless to say, will rub on its smaller cars like the Verna and the Grand i10 making them a tad more aspirational and with it, in demand. To you, it means paying significantly more for the Santa Fe than the current sales champion, the Toyota Fortuner. It also means that you must choose Hyundai over brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes because the latter have atleast one product for the same price, although not all are SUVs and none is a seven-seater.To me, Hyundai could have priced the Santa Fe at least Rs 5 lakh cheaper to give it a fair chance at selling off well. But, with this pricing and the new Santa Fe, again, not being Dabang enough, chances of it scorching the sales charts are bleak.

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Hyundai Santa Fe Ex Showroom Price in Kolkata ranges from  28,03,819/- (Santa Fe 2WD) to  31,25,966/- (Santa Fe 4WD AT).Hyundai Santa Fe has 3 Variants of Diesel are available in India. Hyundai Santa Fe comes in 4 colours, namely Sleek Silver,Pure White,Phantom Black,Wine Red.

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