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Premium Quality Hyundai Sante Fe On Test
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Korean manufacturer Hyundai continues to bolster its reputation for making reliable and affordable cars. Alongside sister brand Kia, sales have steadily increased and the quality of its cars has improved to such an extent that they are now a common sight on our roads.

The Santa Fe is Hyundai’s flagship model and it has just had a comprehensive makeover, reason enough to take another look.

My range-topping Premium SE test car now weighs in at a heady £43,295, a considerable increase over the outgoing model and signals a distinct move upmarket.

Rivals such as the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace are now cheaper, so time will tell whether Hyundai’s lofty aspirations prove justified.

The Santa Fe is only available with one engine, an upgraded version of the familiar 2.2-litre diesel. Boasting 200PS and paired here with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, performance unladen is brisk (0-62mph in 9.4 seconds).

Lesser models can be specified with a manual gearbox and power to the front wheels only, but interestingly no petrol version is currently offered. Prices start at £33,425.

Hyundai quote 45.6mpg for the combined cycle and after a week of mixed motoring, the trip computer on B19 HYU read a little over 36mpg, a fair result.

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The engine is a refined unit and with a generous 440Nm of torque, there is always power aplenty for swift overtaking manoeuvres, though the automatic gearbox can sometimes be a little slow to respond. Better to use the steering wheel mounted paddles...

The Santa Fe should make a good towcar and is rated to pull a braked trailer of up to 2,000kg. I would have tried but sadly no towbar was fitted.

Aiding progress in all conditions is the new HTRAC four-wheel drive system. The system increases traction whilst enhancing cornering performance.

In Sport mode, HTRAC delivers improved acceleration with up to 50 per cent of the torque sent to the rear wheels. With fuel saving in mind, Eco mode sends between 80 and 100 per cent of the torque to the front wheels.

However in slippery conditions, the system will automatically distribute power to all four wheels. A little off-road foray was completed without drama.

As a vehicle designed primarily to move a family in comfort, the Santa Fe is mostly accomplished. The suspension does a good job of isolating the cabin from all but the very worst sections of broken tarmac. There is perhaps a tad more body roll than is ideal, though high speed handling is safe and secure.

It is not a car to thrill, more one to soothe and cosset.

Hyundai’s designers have chosen to update the exterior and most noticeable is the new front end treatment. It is certainly imposing and echoes what has been done with the car’s SUV siblings, Tuscon and Kona.

More impressive is the Santa Fe’s interior, with all models now getting seven seats as standard. The front and middle seats are comfortable and spacious and adults will fit, just, in the rearmost seats, though accessing them is a bit of a challenge.

Top spec SE Premium trim wants for nothing and impressive features include the opening panoramic glass roof, premium sound system and an easy to use eight-inch navigation system.

Material quality is first rate and the big Hyundai feels beautifully put together – suitably premium perhaps...

A comprehensive raft of safety equipment is fitted, making the Santa Fe one of the safest cars in its class.

Five-year comprehensive warranties come as standard with all Hyundai cars, a testament to their longevity and build quality. I doubt that it will ever be needed. Only sister company Kia does it better, with an extra two year’s cover on top.

The Santa Fe is an easy car to live with. It is a relaxing car to drive and is spacious and generously equipped. Its robust nature will endear it to families and the 4x4 versions offer that extra reassurance for when the weather turns bad.

It is the sort of car to buy and run for a decade, assured in the knowledge that it will be a faithful and dependable companion, ready to take on any task that is thrown at it and with a certain amount of style too.


Fast Facts

Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE
Price £43,295
200PS 2.2-litre diesel engine
8-speed automatic gearbox
0 to 62mph in 9.4 seconds
Top speed 127mph
Combined economy 45.6mpg
Emissions 162g/km CO2

Premium Quality Hyundai Sante Fe On Test, 12th November 2018, 15:37 PM