Established as one of Hyundai’s iconic brands, the latest Santa Fe is the fourth generation of this large sports utility vehicle and the flagship in Hyundai’s range in South Africa.
Totally transformed, the new Santa Fe is much more than a mere facelift. With the interior upgrades, it creates an aura of luxury and prestige, and the updating and finetuning of its 2,2-liter turbodiesel engine, in combination with a smooth 8-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, offers a dynamic driving performance that belies the size of this SUV.
The Hyundai Motor Company launched the first-generation Santa Fe in the year 2000, making the company one of the pioneers in the SUV market. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Santa Fe has become an icon for the brand.
“The Santa Fe was Hyundai’s first SUV, and it still is the flagship model in our local model line-up. The continuing improvements the Santa Fe has undergone over the past two decades demonstrate Hyundai’s commitment to developing quality products with the latest features for its customers, as is evident from this latest upgrade,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.
“We believe the Santa Fe offers great value and easily passes the test in its market segment, where the bar is set very high in terms of quality, luxury, an outstanding driving experience and innovative features.”
The new Santa Fe is available in two derivatives in South Africa – the R2.2 Executive with an upgraded turbodiesel engine and new 8-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT); and the R2.2 Elite, also with the 2,2-liter turbodiesel and 8-speed DCT, but with All-Wheel Drive and several more luxury features. Both derivatives are 7-seaters, with the two seats in the third row that fold away in the floor of the large cargo compartment.
Striking exterior with a bold new grille
The Santa Fe has been redesigned to convey a look of strength, magnificence and highly redefined luxury. It stands out thanks to its bold exterior and the front section with its striking new grille, brings out a fresh and more modern look compared to its predecessors.
The eye-catching cascading grille has been improved, with its signature geometric patterned inlay integrated with the headlights. The T-shaped daytime running lights, along with the sculpted front bumper, offer a highly distinctive presence and completes the edgy and powerful appearance.
At the back, the rear bumper displays a low and wide look that conveys stability. Its bold stance is reflected by the sweeping horizontal line, connecting the combination lights and tailgate garnish. The wrap-around combination lamps enhance the look even further thanks to a highly distinctive high-tech design while the premium alloy wheel designs also match Santa Fe’s classy and robust style.
New 18-inch alloy wheels enhances the side view of the Santa Fe Executive, while the Elite derivative comes with 19- or 20-inch wheels with a different design.
At 4 785 mm (exterior, length), 1 900 mm (width) and 1 710 mm (height), the Santa Fe is bigger than the previous model. With the fitting of Hyundai’s new Gen 3 platform, second-row passengers can enjoy more legroom (1 060 mm) as well as benefitting from increased cargo space that has a capacity of 634 litres with the third-row seats folded flat.
Customers can choose from different exterior colour options: White Cream, Typhoon Silver, Lagoon Blue, Phantom Black, Taiga Brown and Magnetic Force (a metallic dark grey).
Interior exudes an air of luxury, innovation
A spacious interior with full leather seats and a new floating centre console which is equipped with shift-by-wire transmission buttons provides an ambience of luxury and operational convenience.
Apart from the buttons for the transmission, the centre console also contains the buttons for the automatic climate control and selector knob for the drive modes and, in the Elite derivative, terrain modes for the all-wheel-drive system. Next to the cup holder in the console is a neat, almost hidden wireless charging slot for a cell phone.
To help create fun and remarkable journeys, the Santa Fe comes installed with a wide array of technology features. The 8-inch infotainment system display, with touchscreen functions, provides hands-free convenience with Bluetooth connection to a cell phone, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
Rear window curtains and heating and ventilation for the front seats are also on the list of convenience features, as well as Remote Start, which allows one to start the vehicle remotely with the smart key, automatically switching on the air conditioner and setting the temperature at 22°C.
On both derivatives a Smart Power Tailgate opens and closes the back door at the touch of a button on the remote key fob, or by touching the respective buttons on the tailgate.
The driver and front passenger can adjust their seats electrically in the Elite derivative, and the driver can lower or raise his or her seat position. The Elite also comes with a 12.3-inch LCD Super Vision Instrument Cluster for the driver, for which illumination can be altered by a rheostat. Both derivates have paddle gear shift levers on the steering wheel for manual shifting, because the transmission controls on the centre console are push buttons.
Upgraded turbodiesel engine, new 8-speed DCT transmission
The new Santa Fe is the first Hyundai model to be fitted with the next-generation powertrain Smartstream R2.2 turbodiesel engine which has a maximum output of 148 kW (vs 145 kW of the previous R2.2 turbodiesel) and maximum torque of 441 Nm (an increase of 5 Nm from the old engine).
Compared to the previous engine generation, the new engine block consists of aluminium instead of iron, ensuring a weight reduction of 19,5 kg. Different parts of the engine have been improved, including, for example, the camshaft, to reduce internal friction and improve overall fuel efficiency.
Furthermore, the engine has been equipped with a new 2 200 bar injection system (compared to 2 000 bar on the previous engine), improving overall engine performance.
It is also the first Hyundai SUV to be equipped with the newly developed Smartstream Wet 8DCT, a dual-clutch transmission delivering quick eight-speed shifting and acceleration performance. It employs two clutches, one coupled to a shaft for odd-number and the other to the shaft for even-number gears.
The 8DCT offers the smooth-shifting characteristics of a conventional automatic transmission while enhancing efficiency over dry dual-clutch transmissions.
Compared to a 7-speed double-clutch transmission, maximum torque capacity is increased by 58% thanks to an optimum clutch cooling performance, achieved through a dedicated electric oil pump for lubrication. The high efficiency hydraulic control system consists of an on-demand control-based electric oil pump and accumulator.
Fuel efficiency is improved by 3% through reduced engine power loss and increased hydraulic efficiency, in comparison to 8-speed automatic transmission models. The new 8DCT also creates a more dynamic driving experience and enhances acceleration performance by up to 9%, compared to 6-speed manual transmission models.
All-wheel drive and terrain modes
In the Elite derivative, the new Santa Fe features Hyundai’s signature HTRAC four-wheel drive technology. HTRAC is a combination of the words “Hyundai” and “traction,” and the technology is intended to enable agile handling and better torque application depending on wheel grip and vehicle speed.
For the first time, the Santa Fe Elite derivative comes with a Terrain Mode selector: a control knob located in the centre console to conveniently switch between different drive modes. The different drive modes optimise driving performance and HTRAC settings for a variety of situations. This feature includes unique driving modes for sand, snow and mud, as well as the driving modes Comfort, Sport and Eco. An additional driving mode option, Smart, means the car will automatically recognise the driving style and select a mode so the driver does not have to.
The combination of the different drive modes with HTRAC results in improvements in acceleration, stability and fuel efficiency. On surfaces such as snow, gravel and mud, the system increases traction for enhanced cornering performance. In slippery conditions, power is automatically distributed to all four wheels. In sport mode, HTRAC enables improved acceleration by distributing up to 50% torque distributed to the rear wheels. In comfort mode, it improves stability by distributing up to 35% torque to the rear wheels. In eco mode, the system improves fuel efficiency by only using front-wheel drive.
The drive modes Comfort, Sport, Eco and Smart are also standard features in the Executive derivative.
Stronger chassis, steady handling
A stronger steel chassis with higher average tensile strength increase rigidity and minimize chassis deformation in the new Santa Fe, while a changed structure of sub-frame to a new multi-frame design results in improved front collision safety as well as better ride & handling.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are also lower compared to the previous Santa Fe model.
MacPherson struts are used for the front suspension, while a multi-link setup is employed at the rear.
State-of-the-art safety features
One of the active safety features in the new Santa Fe is the Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA), which uses a rear-view camera and rear ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles when reversing, providing a warning and applying the brakes, if necessary, to avoid a collision.
Rear Cross-Traffic Warning will give a warning to the driver when reversing and rear bumper radar sensors monitor cross traffic approaching from left and right sides behind the vehicle.
Safe Exit Assist Should issues a warning and keeps the door locked to ensure child safety when a rear occupant attempts to open the rear door while the Santa Fe is standing still and a vehicle is approaching from the rear.
An Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS); Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD); Electronic Stability Program (ESP); and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) are also on the list of active safety features of the new Santa Fe.
Downhill Brake Control, also a safety feature especially when the vehicle is driven on a steep downhill in off-road conditions, and Hill Start Assist Control, which holds the car stationary when starting and pulling away on an uphill, also makes driving the Santa Fe so much easier and safer.
Passive safety features include front and side airbags for the driver and front passenger, as well as a curtain airbag that also provides protection for other occupants of the car.
The pricing of the new Santa Fe range is:
- Santa Fe R2.2 Executive 8sp DCT – R769 500
- Santa Fe R2.2 Elite 8sp DCT AWD – R869 500