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      Hyundai Santa Fe First Drive: Power Stance

      Aditya Chatterjee

      Aditya Chatterjee


      Hyundai Santa Fe First Drive: Power Stance

      Hyundai India has been on a roll for the last few months. In spite of the sluggish auto market, the company received great response for its Grand i10 hatchback. Hyundai India lays great importance in taking customer needs very seriously.

      Taking the A2 and A3 segment in the most impressive way with competitive offerings, Hyundai India has carved its own space in the Indian car market. The company wants to express its technological prowess in higher segments too. The new Santa Fe is clearly one such strong example of it.

      Not that the earlier generation Santa Fe was any less impressive but then with the new model, Hyundai displays its ultimate engineering potential. The new flagship SUV confidently sits above competition. It wears the new “Storm Edge” design and also gets revised interiors. We take it to picturesque Kerala to find out more about this new offering in our first impression report.

      Appearance Exterior

      Santa Fe has always been one of the strong products by Hyundai but then it was not a popular choice among D+ customers. The new Santa Fe will not let you slip into nostalgia as it by no means resembles the earlier model.

      It wears a modern design theme called “Storm Edge”. Before getting into the details, it is evident that the new version looks smashingly impressive. It makes SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour look outcast in the modern SUV community. While other manufacturers prefer on making their SUVs very UV based, Hyundai decided to transform its humble looking SUV into a bold style statement which everyone would love to flaunt.

      Muscular, Solid and progressive just begins to describe the new Santa Fe. The radiator grille has been crafted in chrome and it features the eminent Hyundai logo on it. Though, chrome has been generously used, it does not look flashy or tacky but instead looks very justified.

      The headlights have been redesigned too. It features Xenon headlamps with LED position lights. The LED lights flow on the upper edge of the headlight. This entire arrangement looks amazing in dark as the aggressive and angry streak gets illuminated. Fog lamps; now feature cornering lamps which is useful in rains and foggy conditions. The contrasting skid plates on the lower section of front bumper look rugged.

      This new Santa has been beefed up adequately. It is based on a brand new platform. Dimensionally, the new Santa Fe is bigger as it is longer and wider but then it retains its 2700mm wheelbase. The overhangs are very much in proportion. It is pure muscle seen everywhere on the side profile. To make the Santa Fe macho and rugged, it gets plastic cladding at the running board zone. Adding more appeal to sides are the 18 inch diamond cut alloy wheels which look very tempting. The flowing lines on the side profile make the Santa Fe look dynamic even at standstill. The lines keep climbing till the rear quarter profile where it beautifully concludes with the window line.

      The rear profile has LED rear combination lamps which look in league of higher segment vehicles. Similar to the one in front, there is a skid plate under the rear bumper. It gets twin chrome tipped exhaust pipes. The rear windshield bulges outside with the design. The C-pillar has been very tastefully designed using different profiles and contours. It also gets a roof mounted spoiler.


      Appearance Interior

      The interiors too have gone through the designer’s scissor and the end product is as impressive. Hyundai precisely knows the different needs of customers and delivers something according to the expectation. The interiors of Santa Fe too feel very plush and premium.

      The interiors are poles apart from the earlier generation model and this time the Santa Fe gets all the modern goodies which can be seen in other portfolio cars as well. The dual tone interiors give a fresh feel. The beige seats teamed with chocolate brown soft plastics is an impressive touch.

      It has high quality leather seats and even the stitch feels strong. The seats have been cushioned generously which assures comfortable drive. Taller drivers need not complaint in this as Hyundai offers 12 way power adjustable driver seat which offers different combinational positions.

      Since it is dimensionally bigger, the cabin feels roomier than before. The legroom is great for first and the second row while it is decent for the third row. The second row legroom might get compromised in case of tall front row passengers.

      It can be divided in 40:20:40 ratio which increases the rear boot space when needed. These seats drop at one-touch. All seats get adjustable head rests. The second row seats can also be adjusted manually. It is primarily a 5 seater SUV with an additional space of 2 passengers.

      It is a modern Hyundai so the transformation of interiors into a design marvel is obvious. The lines flowing on the dashboard, the way the instrumental cluster is designed and amazing interior trims are totally top notch. Hyundai has come a long way from its earlier models and their painstaking efforts are visible.

      The front dashboard design converges at the central zone and then it flows down to the central console. The steering wheel, which is rake and reach adjustable, features multiple controls for multimedia as well as toggling between different options on the instrumental cluster. It has a touchscreen information system. The 4.3 inch TFT screen unfortunately is too small to be read properly. It also has no navigation system which can be a bit of pinch to consumers. One more disappointment is that there is no auto-dimming interior mirror. The TFT screen also doubles up as park- assist as it displays the reverse camera. It is convenient no doubt but then the small display might be of concern.

      The glovebox also acts as a chiller zone as it has a vent that alloys articles inside to remain cool. There are twin cup hopers on the central console as well as provision to hold a litre class container on all four doors. It has a generous boot space with the third row seats down. 

      Performance Drive

      The Santa Fe floored us with its design completely and finally it was time to take this dynamic SUV on the winding roads of Cochin. A gentle push on the Start button and the 2.2L engine gets its horses alive and kicking strong.

      The driver seating position is very comfortable and gives a fair judgement of the surrounding. It does have a grand dashboard but that does not come in way of the driver’s vision. After getting the seats adjusted in the most comfortable way, got the auto stick to D and the Santa Fe rolled without effort.

      Mechanically the specifications have been retained but then the company claims that the new version performs way better with improved dynamics. It uses third generation CRDi engine which offers linear power delivery and instantaneous response. The main advantage remains that this engine produces strong torque figures even at lower engine speeds.

      The 2199cc CRDi engine produces 197PS of power at 3800 rpm and a torque of 44.5kg.m at 1800 to 2500 rpm for Automatic transmission. It comes with an optional 6 speed H-matic automatic transmission along with the standard 6 speed manual transmission.

      We had the 4WD AT during our test drive. The diesel engine is not very enthusiastic till 1500 rpm as it takes time to warm up but then once it crosses that figure, the engine gets at its torquey best. Mid range power delivery remains this engine’s forte as it displays strong characteristics before going flat at peak engine speeds.

      The transmission box is not crisp and might not be the best available especially when you compare it with its German counterparts but then it manages to do a decent job. The lag in the power delivery gets highlighted specially when you are departing a corner and need power to increase the momentum. There are no pedals to shift gears at high speeds and instead one has to juggle between the steering wheel and the auto gear stick.

      If anything speaks volumes about the new Santa Fe, it has to be its ride and handling which is simply fantastic. This is a proper grown up SUV and a typical one has lots of body roll and no dynamics but not the Santa Fe. This big lion transforms into a cat when it comes to taking high speed corners. There is negligible body roll while doing so. The way it grips the roads is simply amazing. This is also supported by some great braking. It comes equipped with many driving aid programmes like Brake Assist system, Vehicle stability management, Electronic stability control and traction control system.

      The above are not just redundant features as they hugely contribute towards making the Santa Fe perform brilliantly without losing on excitement and safety. The 235/60 R18 tyres do a great job of keeping a proper track of the street without losing any traction. The “sedanish” handling of the Santa Fe impressed us indeed.

      There is one additional drive assist feature called “Flexi-steer” which offers three driving modes Normal, Comfort and Sport. These modes can be selected by a button the steering wheel depending on the type of driving style you wish to choose. Sport mode makes sure the steering wheel is stiffer and it mainly for cornering at speeds while comfort is a more balanced setting for normal commuting.

      The suspension setup is inclined towards the softer side. Though it is very urban in design and feel, the Santa Fe has some strong off-roading capability too. Hyundai offers differential lock as an option that can be switched depending on the terrain and need. We did manage to take the Santa Fe on challenging terrains and it drove with any hassles.


      Tech Specs

      Technical Specifications
       Make Hyundai
       Model Santa Fe
      Variant 2.2L 4WD AT
      Engine R 2.2L CRDi
      Enine Displacement 2199
      Power in PS/RPM 197/3800
      Torque in Nm/RPM 163/1800-2500
      GearBox 6/M,6 AT
      Dimesions in MM
      Length 4690
      Width 1880
      Height 1690
      Wheel Base 2700
      Ground clearence 180
      Tyre rating 235/60 R18
      Fuel Tank Capacity 64
      Average Mileage in KMPL 14
      Seating capacity 7


      Features 2WD MT 2WD AT 4WD AT
      High Intensity discharge lamps Yes Yes Yes
      LED rear combination lamps Yes Yes Yes
      Fog lamp front and rear Yes Yes Yes
      Chrome tipped twin exhaust Yes Yes Yes
      Rear defogger Yes Yes Yes
      2-Tone beige interiors Yes Yes Yes
      Leather seats and trim Yes Yes Yes
      Leather wrapped steering wheel,gear knob Yes Yes Yes
      Supervision cluster No No Yes
      R18 Diamond cut alloy wheels Yes Yes Yes
      12 Way power adjustable driver seat Yes Yes Yes
      Touch audio with MP3/USB,AUX Yes Yes Yes
      Rear AC with 2nd and 3rd row AC vents Yes Yes Yes
      Cruise control Yes Yes Yes
      MT Shift indicator Yes No No
      Rear center arm rest with cup holders Yes Yes Yes
      Rear wiper and washer Yes Yes Yes
      Smart key with push button start No No Yes
      Dual front air bags Yes Yes Yes
      Front side airbags No No Yes
      Curtain airbags No No Yes
      ABS and EBD Yes Yes Yes
      Electronic stability control No No Yes
      Vehicle stability management control No No Yes
      Hill asst and down brake control No No Yes
      Brake assist No No Yes
      Rollover sensor No No Yes
      Rear parking sensor Yes Yes Yes
      IGN Key interlock system No Yes Yes
      Speed sensing auto door lock Yes Yes Yes
      Flex steer TM Yes Yes Yes
      Advanced Traction Cornering Control No No Yes
      Ex showroom Price Mumbai in Rs 27,59,079 28,48,249 30,68,553

      Competition All Specs

      Santa Fe
      Variant 2.2L 4WD AT 2.2LTZ AWD 4X2 AT
      Engine R 2,2L CRDi 2.2L VCDi D-4D
      Enine capacity 2199 2231 2982
      Power in PS/RPM 197/3800 188.5/3800 171/3600
      Torque in Nm/RPM 163/1800-2500 424/2000 343/3400
      GearBox 6/M,6 AT 6/AT 5/AT
      Dimesions in MM
      Length 4690 4673 4705
      Width 1880 1873 1840
      Height 1690 1755 1850
      Wheel Base 2700 2702 2750
      Ground clearence 180 177 220
      Tyre rating 235/60 R18 215/70 R16 265/65 R17
      Fuel Tank Capacity 64 65 80
      Average Mileage in KMPL 14 14 12
      Seating capacity 7 7 7
      Features 4WD AT AWD AT 4X2 AT Sportivo FT
      High Intensity discharge lamps Yes Yes No
      LED rear combination lamps Yes Yes No
      Fog lamp front and rear Yes Yes Yes
      Rear defogger Yes Yes Yes
      2-Tone beige interiors Yes Yes Yes
      Leather seats and trim Yes Yes Yes
      Leather wrapped steering wheel,gear knob Yes Yes Yes
      Supervision cluster Yes Yes Yes
      Touch audio with MP3/USB,AUX Yes Yes Yes
      Rear AC with 2nd and 3rd row AC vents Yes Yes Yes
      Cruise control Yes Yes Yes
      Rear center arm rest with cup holders Yes Yes Yes
      Rear wiper and washer Yes Yes Yes
      Smart key with push button start Yes Yes Yes
      Dual front air bags Yes Yes Yes
      Front side airbags Yes Yes Yes
      Curtain airbags Yes Yes No
      ABS and EBD Yes Yes Yes
      Electronic stability control Yes Yes Yes
      Vehicle stability management control Yes Yes Yes
      Hill asst and down brake control Yes Yes No
      Brake assist Yes Yes Yes
      Rollover sensor Yes Yes No
      Rear parking sensor Yes Yes Yes
      Speed sensing auto door lock Yes Yes Yes
      Traction Control Yes Yes Yes
      Ex showroom Price Mumbai (Rs.) 30,68,553 22,77,734 23,94,348


      Hyundai recently launched the new Santa Fe at Auto Expo in Delhi. The three versions have been priced at Rs.26.3 Lakhs (2WD MT), 27.33 Lakhs(2WD AT) and 29.25 Lakhs (4WD AT) ex-showroom Delhi. Hyundai will be making it at their Chennai plant in India.

      The Santa Fe will be directly competing against the segment leader Toyota Fortuner which is priced at Rs.22,39,802 (2WD MT) and Rs.24,03,719(2WD AT) ex-showroom Delhi . Hyundai is priced higher than the Fortuner but then it also offers lot more than it. Apart from stylish looks and premium interiors, the Santa Fe comes in a 4WD AT option too which is not present in the Fortuner.

      Even if you compare it with the premium Audi Q3, the German SUV will score more in terms of brand and quality of finishing but then the Santa Fe takes over by offering more features, more space as it is dimensionally bigger and also has a more powerful engine. The Audi Q3 S is priced at Rs. 25,55,000 (2WD MT) and Rs. 31,54,000 (4WD MT).

      New Santa Fe is the most advanced flagship model of Hyundai in India. It will compete against SUVs in its segment and higher too. The new Santa Fe might seem expensive as many would compare it on same shoulders with German offerings but then it boils down to functionality versus need. Premium entry level SUVs seldom are great on features because it is just the beginning point of their brand. In terms of practicality, Hyundai offers more features than many in its segment.

      Modern architecture, refined interiors and great dynamics are pivotal points for the new Santa Fe. It exudes character and style. If you want a SUV which has no fat but muscles, wears a tuxedo and looks dapper even with mud on it, the powerful stance of the new Santa Fe will get you hooked.


      Hyundai | hyundai santa fe | santa fe