If you want a high-spec SUV with bags of room at a reasonable price, then this fourth-generation Hyundai fits the bill, says Ed Coles
Hyundai was once known as a cheap and cheerful manufacturer, but things have changed in recent years. The South Korean outfit has upped its game considerably and that progress is very evident in the new Hyundai Santa Fe. But could it be an alternative to the usual suspects on the gravel on a shoot day? Let’s find out.
The fourth-generation Santa Fe we’re having a look at is the 2.2 CRDi Premium SE version, which is the highest spec. Powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive, it could very well tick a few boxes for country pursuits enthusiasts.
From the side, it has that generic look of an SUV, but once you move to the front you appreciate Hyundai’s styling. The Santa Fe looks anything but cheap and cheerful. The 19in wheels, bold grille, LED lights and rear spoilers give the Santa Fe a high-end look, with a dash of sportiness.
The bold curvaceous front bumper sits at a reasonable level and, with a ground clearance of 185mm, the Santa Fe should be able to negotiate a few ruts, lumps and bumps. However, the spare wheel sits a bit low at the back and is destined to fill up with mud if we take too many liberties.
Pulling out the trusty feed bag, it’s time to take a peek underneath. There are glimpses of the independent front and rear suspension — MacPherson struts on the front and multi-link suspension on the rear.
The Hyundai Santa Fe looks to have discarded the slightly agricultural set-up of its original version and the 4×4 has moved on a bit. Hyundai’s 4×4 running gear, or HTRAC, is a variable set-up that works in conjunction with four driving modes, adjusting the torque to the front and rear wheels depending on the situation.
In sport mode, the HTRAC delivers improved acceleration and up to 50% of available torque to the rear wheels. Comfort mode gives us a bit more stability and splits the power 65% to the front wheels, 35% to the rear. In eco mode, the acceleration is tweaked and 80% to 100% of drive is moved to the front wheels. Smart mode adjusts torque front to rear depending on throttle position and traction. A diff lock for off-road excursions supplies a 50/50 output front to rear.
Popping open the nicely curved bonnet, we can see a fair bit of the 2.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, which stables 200 tiny horses and produces 440Nm of torque. It is by no means sluggish for a family SUV.
There is a decent amount of space in the boot and an extra two seats. Using the Shooting Times standard unit of measurement, we’re talking about 10 full bags of wheat or a reasonably sized dog box. It’s 547 litres — and 1,625 litres with the back seats folded.
The interior of the Santa Fe is rather plush. With the black leather seats and leather-effect dash, it has a high-end executive feel.
The Santa Fe comes with more toys than Hamleys. All the usual mod cons are present and correct. DAB, satnav and a rather impressive 360° camera are operated from the 8in central screen. We also have a heads-up display projected on to the screen. A host of apps, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, are included, as well as wireless phone charging.
The smart seats are heated and fan-cooled, which was a bit of a surprise on a chilly morning when I inquisitively pushed the button. Mrs C got a shock when I sneakily turned on her seat.
Safety is covered, with all the driver aids fitted, including emergency braking, pedestrian warning and blindspot detection.
Hyundai Santa Fe – precise handling
Cruising on the open road in the Hyndai Santa Fe is comfortable and effortless. Likewise, it handles winding country roads with ease and it’s actually quite fun, particularly in sport mode. Steering and handling is precise for a large vehicle and they could probably get away with making the suspension a bit tighter.
Time to head off the beaten track and top up some feeders. The first test for the diff lock is a slightly damp meadow. It passes that with flying colours, no slipping and sliding. Despite my best efforts, the front and rear wheels are very much in line.
Now for some mud and ruts. There’s a bit of slipping and sliding, but that’s mainly down to the road tyres. The electronic witchcraft does its thing and puts us back on the straight and narrow. A little more ground clearance would be nice for peace of mind, but I haven’t got stuck and there’s nothing hanging off, so we’ll put that down as a pass.
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NEED TO KNOW
- Manufacturer Hyundai
- Model Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Premium SE
- Power 200hp, 440Nm of torque
- Top speed 127mph
- 0-62mph 9.4 seconds
- Emissions (g/km) 159g/km
- Fuel economy combined 38.7mpg
- Towing weight braked 2,000kg
- Towing weight unbraked 750kg
If you want a high-spec SUV with bags of room at a reasonable price, then this fourth-generation Hyundai fits the bill