Cars - Hyundai

Road tests and reviews of the latest Hyundai models available in South Africa

We test drive the new 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Tested

By Franky Johnson

Hyundai’s flagship model in South Africa, the Santa Fe, has been substantially refreshed for 2016 with new design refinements and an advanced range of new active safety, comfort and convenience features.

Two derivatives are available - the Santa Fe R2.2 five seater Elite, which uses a front-wheel drive system, and the R2.2 seven seater Elite, which is equipped with an All-Wheel Drive system and which is the derivative we feature in this road test.

The new Santa Fe retains key elements of the Hyundai "family look", with the brand's hexagonal front grille finished in chrome, new front xenon projector headlamps, front and rear bumpers, redesigned fog and LED daytime running lights framed with new silver trim, while the rear lamps get a fresh new LED graphic and the macho 5-arm dual spoke alloy wheels on the press vehicle were wrapped in chunky 235/55R19 tyres.

On the inside the leather covered seats with perforated seat facings give the interior a decidedly up-market ambiance. The electrically powered front seats have a full range of adjustments to accommodate drivers of all sizes. Second-row passengers also have a wide range of recline angle and plenty of head- and legroom, even with the panoramic sunroof. The third-row seats will seat three adults, but are best suitable for teenage kids.

Cargo space is quite generous, swallowing about 1 160 litres of luggage behind the second row of seats. With the second row folded, that capacity increases to 2 265 litres, but if all the seats are in up, it drops to just 382 litres behind the third row.

Standard features on the new Hyundai Sante Fe Elite includes a dual zone climate control, radio / CD / MP3 / Aux / iPod / USB, 4-spoke multi-function steering wheel, trip computer, electric windows with one touch for the driver, Blind Spot Detection, Adaptive cruise control and Park Assist with camera mounted within the rear view mirror.

A great new feature is the hands-free function for its power tailgate that automatically opens the tailgate after a few seconds if the user is nearby with the key fob. It also emits an audible warning to anyone in the vicinity. Hyundai says it has also retuned the Santa Fe's steering and suspension to provide a better steering feel and more precise handling.

The new Sante Fe introduces several new active safety and comfort features. These include driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags, daytime running lights, Isofix child seats attachments, remote keyless entry and alarm and smart key with push button start.

The new Sante Fe 7-seater Elite as tested is powered by Hyundai's 2.2-litre CRDi turbo-diesel engine, developing 145 kW at 3 800 rpm and 436 Nm of torque from 1 800 rpm. Drive is to all four wheels and coupled to a six-speed automatic gearbox that offers a manual mode as well.

Hyundai claims a CO2 emission figure of 198 g/km and fuel consumption of 8.3 litres/100 km for the All-Wheel Drive seven-seater Elite, although the trip recorder showed that I had averaged 9.9 litres per 100 km, but that did include acceleration times, and both on and off road testing.

Three driving modes can be selected: Sport, Normal and Eco. The Normal driving mode is selected by default, and the Sport or Eco mode is selected by pressing a switch on the instrument panel to the right of the steering wheel. In Eco mode the gears shift slightly earlier to effect more frugal fuel diesel consumption, which Hyundai says, could be as low as 7.3 litres/100 km on the open road.

As you open the driver’s door to get into the new Hyundai Sante Fe 4x4 Elite model, you are immediately impressed by the up-market well-appointed interior. After adjusting the seat to a comfortable driving position, the all-round view is very good, and all the buttons and levers fall nicely to hand.

For most of the driving I just left the auto box in Drive Normal mode, and the gearbox was really good in selecting the right gear for the right conditions. On the open road the new turbo-diesel engine is quiet, refined, responsive to kick down changes and with the windows closed noise levels are well controlled and no diesel clatter was to be heard in the cab, even at idle.

In acceleration tests, slotting the gear lever into drive mode at standstill, floor the accelerator, hold it down and the 2.2 litre diesel Sante Fe pulled away smoothly, crossed the 100 km mark in 4th gear in 9.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of approaching 185 km/h.

Driving on the freeways is quite relaxed and although the improvements have a minimal effect on driving behavior, the ride is comfortable, the car stays nicely composed, and there is some feedback from the steering.

Ride and handling is well above average for this class of SUV and although the ride is a little on the firm side, the revised suspension does a very good job of smoothing out the potholed surfaces on poorly kept tar roads.

Driving briskly on winding sweeps the Santa Fe feels fairly light and sporty and although there is some body lean in fast corners, the 4-wheel drive system provides very good grip and good handling for a large SUV, by tightening its grip as the corner tightens.

Driven on some of the gravel roads inland of the KZN north coast, the Sante Fe gave an excellent ride even on the bad sections, so with drive going to all four wheels, the handling was good. However, if you should go a bit wide on the twisty sections, the electronics will step in and help in keeping the vehicle on track.

We did not get to do much much off-road testing, but for the short off-road section, I pressed the “lock” button to lock the front and rear wheels together, and the Sante Fe pulled though it very well, aided by its 180 mm ground clearance. Although most owners in this class of SUV would probably seldom go off road, it’s nice to know the feature is there.

As for pricing... it should be noted that Sante Fe comes standard with a host of equipment normally found on the options list of other SUVs, so the recommended retail selling price for the new Hyundai Sante Fe Elite 4x4 7-seater at R699 900 is very competitive. Included in the price is a 5 year or 90 000 km service plan, and a 5 year / 150 000 km warranty and roadside assistance.

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