When you live through serious change the impact of it sometimes is lost. Take the Santa Fe. This was once the best-selling Hyundai model when it first arrived here. It was hugely popular and was a car that woke motorists up to the quality and value of Hyundai.
They were everywhere. That title passed to the iX35/Tuscon and is heading the way of the fabulous all-electric Ioniq 5.
Here’s the change though. Not too long ago all the Santa Fe’s sold were powered by diesel engines. Mile and motorway munchers demanded diesel, but no more. Four out of five Santa Fe models sold so far this year are powered by petrol PHEVs. Our aversion to diesel is staggering.
Apart from the economics anyone who buys a diesel will have others tut-tutting. Who would have ever though that a full sized SUV would be using a petrol PHEV powertrain?
I never saw it coming but it’s here and no sooner have we got used to the hybrids that our focus is now turning to all-electric in these types of cars.
Have you seen the size of a BMW iX? That’s longer, wider and taller than the current Santa Fe so all-electric for these types of vehicles is a runner.
As a by the way, the Ix is a 5-seater whereas the Santa Fe is a proper 7-seater. More again for less and deserved bragging rights to Hyundai.
The Santa Fe has really matured and looks like Hyundai don’t have to try and convince you to buy one as it stands on its own merit against any similar car, regardless of the badge.
The looks are family familiar and you can see hints of its design on other Hyundai cars. I can see some of the design cues in the Bayon and Kona or is it the other way round?
The rugged and refined claim is justified. Where once there was a perceived loss of cache if you were driving a Hyundai and not something German of Japanese, this is no longer the case.
The premium look on the outside is matched on the inside and there is no aspect of the interior where you could allege there was a drop in quality standards.
The materials feel so good, the seats are great and the technology is on a par, or even better than the opposition, other than their cousin Kia. Long may the sibling rivalry between these two continue because they force each other to keep raising the bar.
There is a lovely floating central console and all the controls fall to hand, are easy to find and are very easy to use.
Power comes from a 180 PS 1.6-litre T-GDi engine coupled a 66.9 kW electric motor for a total power output of 265PS. With a 13.8 kWh battery fitted that makes an all-electric journey of xx possible.
I say xx because I can’t find that figure in the Hyundai Irish or UK brochure, only the CO2 figures. I do know that I managed 37kms when I tried it on urban roads and not in the stop-start city.
The car is full of features to allow you use it for the things that an SUV are expected to do.
Being 4WD there is off-road driving security and ability. The drive selector is a push button affair centrally positioned below central infotainment screen.
The driver gets an all-digital display as well. Hyundai strikes a good balance between touch and switches. It allows you to concentrate on driving and the drive is best described as comfortable capableness.
It is very comfortable on all surfaces and despite being a tall vehicle bodyroll is kept in check. Not that you’d want to test its limits as this is a long distance comfort proposition that delivers, and all done super quietly.
The power available is best used on a blue-signed road where overtaking is effortless and when the signs turn green, ease off, and enjoy the serene luxury.
There are two trim levels available – Hybrid and Premium Hybrid. There is a €4,000 difference in price between the two and for that extra you get a panoramic sunroof, a powered tailgate, blind spot monitor and all around monitor.
If you can pay €60,445 for the Premium model, it’s the one to buy being only 7% extra.
Isn’t it amazing how we can justify anything when we reduce it to the smallest number to support our argument?
Nevertheless, for the money there are very few cars that have 4WD, 7 seats and standard equipment that can match the Santa Fe.
It may be a different car nowadays but it hasn’t strayed from its DNA of offering an awful lot of car at very keen pricing.
Diesel is dead, hybrid is the interim step to all-electric and how long ago would that have looked ridiculous.
All that said there is a place for a good petrol-hybrid and 4 out of 5 savvy Santa Fe buyers know that only too well.
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