This week we have in the ‘New Generation’ Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE with 4WD and seven seats for review and road test. How does it stack up?
It’s a couple of years since the new Hyundai Santa Fe arrived, complete with a proper makeover that saw its looks improving and Hyundai’s biggest SUV moving decidedly upmarket.
Hyundai want us to think of this Santa Fe as the ‘New Generation’ Santa Fe, perhaps hoping that potential buyers will realise that this really is a new car and not just a bit of a titivation of the ‘old’ generation Santa Fe.
In this review car – the Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE – we get the Santa Fe with all the knobs on, so not only do we get seven seats and pretensions to take sales from cars like the new Land Rover Discovery Sport, we also get a Hyundai that’s decidedly mainstream and has to sell on its abilities, rather than banking on being as cheap as chips to attract buyers.
But as that’s what Hyundai has been successfully doing over recent years with other models in their range, the expectation is that the Santa Fe will be equally credible against the opposition, despite a £35,430 price tag and engine options that are distinctly for Mr Hobbs, with just a 2.2 litre diesel on offer.
We have a week, and a mile or three, to see what we think.
Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE – inside and out
Hyundai’s design for the new Santa Fe is certainly bolder and more cohesive than before, and the big, in yer face, grille certainly gives the car presence. The verdict was split about whether the grille made the Santa Fe look American or just look impressive. On balance, we think it works and makes the Santa Fe a bit more stand out, without looking to much like it’s trying to hard.
The Santa Fe has also got longer and lower, so although it’s still clearly an SUV it does look more ‘sporty’ in its stance, helped by some clean lines, 19″ alloys, a spoiler on the tailgate and skid plates front an back. And in black (Pearl paint, don’t you know, the only option Hyundai has added – £585), it looks more than up to passing the school run credibility check.
Inside is certainly roomy – it’s even not too bad in the third row of seats, but not ideally suited to a pair of prop forwards – and quality and fit and finished are certainly up to mainstream standards. It’s also very well-equipped.
From the comfortable leather seats to the panoramic glass roof, there’s plenty of ‘luxury’ items included as standard, and it’s tough to think what you’d want to add to make the Santa Fe (at least in premium SE spec) more appealing.
Standard stuff includes rear view parking camera and parking sensors all round, Smart Park Assist, Touchscreen Sat Nav, Keyless with stop/start button and a Premium sound system, Yes, you can delve in to the options list, but for a family shifter for kids and stuff you do get plenty for your money.
And when its comes to moving stuff and kids, you can still get a week’s shopping in the boot with all the seats up, everything you could need for a fortnight’s holiday with the third row down and (almost) enough room to play man with a van if you flatten both rows.
In terms of looks, inside and out, and equipment, Hyundai has managed to tick all the boxes.
Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE – Performance on the road
Frankly, if you’re considering a Santa Fe, you’re probably not expecting it to drive like a Porsche Macan, or mud-plug like a Land Rover Discovery Sport. And you’d be right. The Santa Fe is designed to be a decent mid-sized family SUV, and that’s how it’s set up. But it’s still very able.
Yes, there is a bit of rock and roll going on if you push hard in to bends on back roads, and the steering (Flex Steer, which allows you to change the feel – but we struggled to find much difference most of the time) isn’t exactly feeding back a huge amount of information. But the Santa Fe never feels like it’s going to fall over, and the part-time four-wheel drive does help with grip if you get a bit too enthusiastic.
What did surprise us was how well the Santa Fe coped with off-roading. True, we didn’t do anything too extreme, but the four-wheel drive managed to perform admirably with two wheels on an unmade road and two on the grassy verge. Which we didn’t expect. So for sure-footed winter driving we’re sure it will be more than up to the job.
The engine in this Santa Fe is a 2.2 litre diesel (which it is in every Santa Fe, whatever the spec) and it produces an adequate 194bhp and a decent 311lb/ft of torque. It’s not a huge amount for what is a relatively big car, but it stands up to the competition, even if it’s not exactly stand out.
The automatic ‘box fitted to this test car does suit its character, but it also means you need a bit of a heavy right foot to make good progress. 0-62mph comes up in a distinctly average 10.1 seconds (and the top speed’s 118mph) and that rather old school six-speed automatic ‘box means fuel consumption and emissions are not massively impressive at 41.5mpg and 178g/km. We actually averaged 32.1mpg.
Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE Review Verdict
The Hyundai Santa Fe has come a long way since the first version arrived nearly 15 years ago, and this ‘New Generation’ Santa Fe has certainly moved the bar higher, made it a credible mainstream option, and perhaps given some buyers of ‘Premium’ family SUVs pause for thought, especially if they like lots of toys (many of which come as standard on this Premium SE model but would set you back a tidy sum on a premium SUV option list).
Nobody buys a Hyundai SUV for its cutting-edge dynamics or its ability to scale Ben Nevis in its tea break, so it’s no surprise that Hyundai has focussed on good styling, comfort and equipment with the Santa Fe. And they’ve got it pretty much spot on.
Yes, it would be nice if the Santa Fe was a bit more sporty, but that’s not what a family SUV should be about, and Hyundai know that.
Instead, they’ve delivered a sporty-looking SUV (despite its bulk) that offers a soothing ride if you sit back and relax and don’t try to get everywhere before you’ve arrived, with a comfortable and appealing cabin that is the match, and more, of the mainstream competition, a ride that soothes (most of the time), enough room for family and stuff and plenty of toys and equipment.
As a clever, able and appealing family SUV, there’s much to recommend the ‘New Generation’ Santa Fe.
Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE Quick Tech Specs
- Engine: 2199cc, 194bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 10.1 seconds / Top Speed 118mph
- Economy: 41.5mpg – Official / 32.1mpg – Test
- Emissions: 178g/km
- Price: £35,430 / Price as tested £36,015
- Test car supplied by Hyundai UK