On the first glance, I must say the new Hyundai Santa Fe looks appealing. Hyundai’s designs are getting more and more sophisticated and attention-grabbing, moving away from the old squarish days and the plain old designs like the Avante or the Getz. The new 7-seater from the Korean manufacturer have turned quite a few heads on my one-day test of it, although I must say there are still many areas for Hyundai to improve on.
The bold wide-gap grille of Hyundai vehicles nowadays are becoming almost like a trademark, starting from the Veloster to the Turbo, and then to the Santa Fe. However, despite it’s gapping mouth and it’s height standing at 1.68 metres, the Santa Fe is hardly intimidating like others in it’s class or more, for example, the Fortuner. It is quite a hassle to get in and out of the vehicle if you’re around my height of 1.7 metres, but it shouldn’t be much of a problem hoisting yourself up though.
And since daytime running lights are getting more and more common nowadays, Hyundai has gladly integrated an LED strip on the eye-liner side of the front headlamps, complementing the Bi-Xenon projector that comes standard on the Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe, given it’s build and position in the Hyundai ladder, comes standard with a couple of features that might interest the tech-saavy drivers. Keyless entry comes standard, and you could unlock/lock the car at the touch of a button on the front doors. The 19″ rims sitting within the four 235/55 tyres does a fantastic job of stabilizing the car, although I feel 20″ might do it better (but then again, there’s the aftermarket option, no?)
As per all 7 seaters in the market, the boot space is virtually non-existent. Try fitting a backpack in and you’ll find yourself grumbling for more space. But fortunately, the seats are relatively easy to lower, and once they’re down, the space you get could possibly accommodate 4 golf bags. That being said, it might be a good idea to keep it down permanently since sitting at the last row proves to be really a pain if you’re claustrophobic.
The Santa Fe is surprisingly comfortable and luxurious. Additions have been made to give you a good sense of continental feel once you step into the car. The leather stitched dash and door panels provide the assurance for the quality you get, rather than the plasticky squeaking kind you get on the lower end cars like the i30 or the Elantra. From the beeps to the dings and the welcome screen on the dash, Hyundai has successfully managed to bring this car one level up into the reigns of continental luxury.
The Santa Fe, refined and tuned more towards being a family car, lacks the sporty side equipment such as the paddle shifters, but it does just as well with the manual gear change indicators on the stick. Unfortunately, Hyundai still doesn’t bring in the larger display screen version originally from Korea, which allows you to access better functions such as GPS or touch screen adjustments.
Driving the Santa Fe indeed gives you road presence. The equivalent of the Touareg, it was effortless for me to change lanes and maneuver on the roads. Not that I squeeze people out of their lanes, but somehow the heavy presence of this SUV proves more useful than that of a small sedan. If you’re upgrading from a sedan to this, you’d probably need some time to adjust to the height and bonnet space.
Despite the lack of my favourite GPS and larger touch-screen display, the interior of the Santa Fe provides much for us to explore. Bluetooth capability comes standard and you’ll find it a breeze to pair up your smart phone to the car’s speaker, with the call answering/reject buttons just at the tip of your steering wheel.
For those who love to have a view upwards, you’d be pleased to note that the panoramic roof comes standard on the Santa Fe too. This proves to be a wonder for kids watching the skies go by as their parents cruise down in the 7 seater. However, it could get really hot if you forget to close the sunroof cover, especially on a scorching day.
Now with all the goody luxury features that you’ve read so far heaped into this SUV, I must say the ride needs to be improved. While noise insulation for this 7-seater proves to be a wonder (you can hardly hear any road noise – unless you’re travelling on really rough terrains), there are so many other aspects of the drive that I felt Hyundai could improve on.
For starters, the power. At the blip of the pedal, you will indeed wonder if there are really 192 horses under that bonnet of yours. The GDI technology doesn’t help much in powering the car forward, and most of the time, I find it a real pain to accelerate even if I’m not intending to be the first off from the lights. Acceleration is real slow, and sometimes I do wonder if the 10.8 seconds mark for 0-100 km/h in the brochure stands true.
The 6-speed automatic gear box could do with an extra gear, especially with such bad power to weight ratio and acceleration. The ratings of 11.2 litres/km brings it to the “very jiak you” (drinks a lot) standard – truth be told, I was expecting more of 9 litres/km but I think I got 13 based on my test. Which means you really need quite a bit of spare cash to feed this monster.
You won’t be expected to do high speed cornerings in an SUV, but it’s pleasant to note that the Santa Fe takes corners well even at 70 km/h, thanks to it’s 4WD option and Electronic Stability Control. The Santa Fe also provides you with three different feels of steering, called Flex Steer – Comfort, Normal and Sports. Ironically, they don’t change the way your SUV drives, but rather, puts in feedback into the steering wheel based on sensors and the ground terrain. I personally prefer driving in Sports mode, although I figured the average family guy would go for Comfort.
Other features integrated into this 7-seater includes Downhill Brake Control, Hill-start Assist Control, and the option to turn off your Traction Control System for a more adventurous ride!
The Santa Fe is not considered the most luxury of all SUVs, but I dare say it takes luxury in Korean cars to a new level, especially with it’s gadgets, features and attention to detail in the cabin. Unfortunately, the power don’t justify what was published, although I think this might just be a matter of personal choices. If you’re comparing to the old Santa Fe or it’s competitors, you’d have to admit that the new Santa Fe packs in much more value-for-money equipment, technology and sophistication for you to spend on.
- Upscale interior comparable to continental vehicles
- Road presence
I DON’T LIKE:
- Fuel consumption
- Mediocre central console for a top-of-range vehicle
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is currently priced at S$195,999 inclusive of COE. Prices and information published here are correct at the time of publication.
All photographs courtesy of Hyundai Singapore and the internet.