Hyundai Santa Fe

The Winning Recipe

"Focused more on tight and refined styling elements"

What a pleasant summer I had in Beirut this year because I drove, during two consecutive weekends, the Veloster and the Genesis Coupe. Why so pleasant? In terms of design, these two vehicles from the Korean automaker have changed my vision about Hyundai. The designers at Hyundai, who twisted the Sonata and created the Genesis coupe that’s been envied from coast to coast, have finally gotten their hands on the Santa Fe. Congrats folks! And the outcome is a crossover that’s bolder, sleeker and more vibrant than the two previous generations.

Driving Impressions
My journey started in Beirut and ended in Muscat where I had the opportunity to temperate all my senses on the all-new third generation Santa Fe. We tested the vehicle in desert mountain trails and winding roads to see how the new architecture stands up to the challenge. And if the Santa Fe Sport performs well at sea level and high temperatures, then Hyundai execs can include a further checkmark in their winning recipe.

Exterior
I am not saying that the Santa Fe is an ugly car, but certain colors praise it more than others. Silver for example is an excellent choice. From the rear it’s the usual SUV look with a stack of metalwork, some silver trim partly lightening the wrap of plastic across the bottom edge.

Building on Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design philosophy, the exterior of the all-new Santa Fe invokes the impression of irrepressible motion through the model’s unique ‘Storm Edge’ styling, which captures the strong and dynamic images created by nature during the formation of a storm. The futuristic design, with its bold hexagonal front grille, lets people know immediately that the all-new Santa Fe is a Hyundai.

The external surfaces are fluid and dynamic, with exceptional finesse and superb detailing. A rising belt-line suggests movement and dynamism, whilst a bold rising shoulder line behind the rear door handles conveys strength and authority. The exterior is highlighted with a number of highly technical details, such as rectangular lenses in the front HID headlights, LED side repeaters in the rear clusters, and gloss black finishing on the door frames and pillars, reminiscent of the treatment found on luxury saloons.

At the rear, detailing includes a sporty twin muffler with double exhaust tips, a diffuser-style moulding beneath the bumper, and an LED high level brake light repeater. Alloy wheels are standard, with the availability to choose from 17", 18" or 19" rims.

Interior
The interior design is equally bold and modern, in particular the dramatic 3D sculptural treatment of the dashboard, centre console and eye-catching steering wheel, which is adjustable for rake and reach, all of which helps to create an on-board environment similar to that found in a luxury modern sedan. 

Information is displayed on an advanced TFT LCD instrument cluster housed in a sporty cylindrical shell, and there is also a large central full colour navigation and information screen. Satin or high gloss chrome accents and high gloss finishes highlight the premium nature of the interior, which can be specified with full leather upholstery.

Practicality and Comfort
The all-new Santa Fe manages to combine cutting-edge modern style with class-leading standards of comfort and practicality, making it an ideal family car, and in line with Hyundai’s ‘Modern Premium’ brand direction.

Longer and wider than the previous generation model, the all-new Santa Fe provides best-in-class legroom and increased amounts of headroom in the first row. Seating convenience is improved by lowering hip point and ground clearance, while wrap doors that extend to the bottom of the sills make access easier. Seating arrangements are particularly versatile. A 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory settings can be specified. Reminiscent of the type of seats typically found in large luxury SUVs, the second row can be slid back or forwards for added convenience, and can also be reclined and split fold for extra carrying capacity.

When it comes to comfort, staying cool on hot days is essential in the region. All models come with either state-of-the-art manual or automatic air conditioning systems, and second/third row ventilation is also available. An Active Eco function actively controls air conditioner output and engine and transmission activity for optimum fuel efficiency. Top of the range models can be fitted with heat-reflecting solar glass, while a glove box cooler to keep contents chilled can also be specified.

For security purposes, all models are fitted with an alarm, while a Smart Key with mirror folding and immobiliser functions are also available.

Powertrains and Drivetrains
The all-new Santa Fe is economically appealing without sacrificing any driving enjoyment. Two engines are available for ordering in the Middle East: a new Lambda II 3.3 L, V6 engine and the 2.4 L engine.

The V6 is smaller than the engine it replaces, but is more powerful and more fuel efficient with maximum power of 270 hp and maximum torque of 318 Nm. The 3.3 L can accelerate the all-new Santa Fe from 0 to 100 kph in 8.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 190 kph.

The normally aspirated MultiPoint Fuel Injection 2.4 L, 4 cylinder engine delivers 176 hp and up to 227 Nm of torque.

Two drivetrains are offered in a six-speed automatic and a six speed manual gearbox, driving either the front wheels or all 4 wheels depending on model and specification. Both transmissions have been developed to offer smooth shifting and greater fuel economy.

The 4WD system drives through the front wheels under normal road conditions for optimum economy and fuel efficiency, but engages automatically when conditions require. Additionally, there is a 4WD lock mode selector which distributes power in a 50:50 ratio to both front and rear wheels for increased off-road ability, while automatically switching to ‘Auto’ mode when vehicle speed increases to 40 kph.

Optionally available, the Flex Steer system offers three steering modes that are selectable via a switch on the steering wheel, enabling the driver to choose between Comfort, Normal and Sport according to road conditions.

Suspension is by Macpherson strut at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. Dynamic dampers deliver saloon car-like levels of comfort and control, whilst a new steering design offers improved precision and feel.

Safety
A wide range of both active and passive safety technologies are deployed in the new Santa Fe, helping the driver at all times and providing maximum protection in case the worst should occur.

Active safety systems available include Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This ensures optimal braking performance by automatically delivering the right amount of braking force to each wheel based on engine torque and driving circumstances.

The Hillstart Assist Control (HAC) system is capable of detecting an incline - the brakes are then automatically applied to prevent dangerous roll-back. This is complemented by the Downhill Brake Control (DBC), which helps to maintain vehicular control during steep forward movement, as well as the Brake Assist System (BAC), which applies increased braking pressure when detecting an emergency situation.

When encountering slippery roads, the Traction Control System (TCS) prevents the wheel from spinning in an uncontrolled manner, while the Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) is available on top-of-the-range models and prevents asymmetrical braking by applying braking force to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter oversteer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer. VSM promotes stable car manoeuvring and optimal safety during potential skidding situations.

One of the most secure rides in the market, the Santa Fe is fitted with up to six air bags and the latest seatbelt technology, making it particularly reassuring for family drivers.

Features
The Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) is available on GLS models and frees up interior space while improving convenience. The EPB also works with Automatic Vehicle Hold (AVH) to provide greater control at traffic lights and on inclined roads.

Ever helpful in urban driving conditions, the Rear Parking Assist System (RPAS) uses ultrasonic sensors to determine the proximity of vehicles or objects behind, while a rear view camera can also be specified for enhanced visibility. On the other hand, in out-of-town driving conditions, drivers will appreciate the cruise control function.

ESC/4WD Assistance Control improves control and promotes driver agility, especially on highways with frequent interchanges, sharp curbs and high acceleration. Standard on models equipped with VDC and 4WD, it detects potentially dangerous situations early on and prevents the vehicle from straying off track.

Among the many neat touches that highlight the premium nature of the all-new Santa Fe are optional electric folding mirrors, automatic rain sensors and the full-length panoramic sunroof. Letting in even more light than conventional panoramic sunroofs, the Santa Fe’s sunroof eliminates the centre beam and installs motor-driven roller blinds.

The all-new Santa Fe offers a choice of multimedia systems that not only provide driving enjoyment and surround-sound entertainment, but also high-value, functional tools to keep drivers as informed as possible. These state-of-the-art audio systems, feature Multimedia compatibility and quality sound capability, accompany MY MUSIC features, virtual sound features and Bluetooth hands-free functionality.

All trims come with AUX, USB and iPod ports, while the audio system can be operated via the steering wheel remote controls. The top-of-the-range integrated entertainment system adds a 4.3 inch TFT-LCD display and rear view camera display function. There is also a Smart Navigation system, incorporating advanced technology which covers the GCC countries and comes in Arabic or English.

Verdict
The new Santa Fe is here now! Hyundai will be discontinuing the Veracruz not in all markets, but for the Middle East the Santa Fe 7-seater or long wheelbase is the replacement. It will be available starting January 2013. The smaller Santa Fe will mainly compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The larger engine Santa Fe will compete against the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and the Mazda CX-9. Pass by your nearest showroom and I guarantee it, the drive will be agreeable!

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