Test: Hyundai Santa Fe HEV 1.6 T-GDi 6A/T 2WD: King size !

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The Hyundai Santa Fe is pretty big at 4,8 m long and 1,9 m large. On top of its respectable size, its new full-size chrome grille will make sure it gets noticed. Size wise, it’s on par with the Jaguar F-Pace and the Range Rover Velar, no less. Compared to its Germand competitors, it is rather halfway  between two models… Following a trend that is becoming more and more widespread, we were loaned an HEV version to test. The 4-cylinder 1.6 petrol engine is coupled with a synchronous motor delivering up to 44.2 kW and together they deliver a 230 BHP cumulative power to the front wheels.

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Being a Kia Sorento relative, the Hyundai Santa Fe shares some technologies with it. Like the digital instrument panel that displays images taken by one of the blind spot cameras located under the mirrors, when the driver activates an indicator. However, this was not featured on our test car. However, this Korean SUV offered a vast number of features anyway : smart key entry, leather seats, wireless charger, Krell audio system, lane keeping assist, front and rear parking sensors and self-levelling suspension being the main ones. There’s only a version available and just a few extras so the equipment list is a very long one…

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I quite like it

The Santa Fe has a real feel good factor. The interior is nicely designed, the space is generous and you quickly find a good driving position. The information available on the dashboard is logical and very complete. You can choose from planned route details, multimedia or connected phone. Although our test car interior was almost entirely black, the various chrome touches scattered throughout the dashboard gave it a high quality feel. The large centre console has an impressive number of buttons, but you quickly get used to them. We think it’s much easier to find the right button rather than searching for frequently used functions on a touch screen, like in some of the Santa Fe competitors.

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Pretty clever

Driving the Santa Fe is a very pleasant experience. Always smooth and silent when it starts, the frequent shifts to EV electric mode can be easily visualised. The SUV Hyundai also benefits from an efficient transmission system, with a rather smart six-speed automatic gearbox. On the plus side, we must also salute the overall liveliness of the car. Its accelerations are pretty sharp (0 to 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds) and once in gear, picking up is always fast and safe enough (5.5 seconds to go from 80 to 120 km/h). A rather nice surprise, considering this beast weighs 1,937 kg! Fuel consumption was also pretty impressive with 8,4 l/100 km of premium unleaded petrol used over our 340 km test. We didn’t even try hard to achieve such a good figure. This is much more reasonable than the 11 l/100 used by the Tucson 1.6 T-GDi 48v  we tested just before this Santa Fe, in similar conditions.

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Not so good…

The Santa Fe is no sportscar. For all its weight and size, it’s far from being clumsy but definitely prefers long and regular curves to sharp and tight ones. What’s more, it doesn’t offer an ideal compromise between firmness and comfort. On most (potholed) Belgian roads, it proved too firm to be really comfortable. We think the centre console button allowing to choose between off-road driving modes is a bit strange… on a front-wheel drive car! If interior space is generous(let’s not forget this is one of very few 7 seater SUVs), storage spaces are not that big, though.

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Why I buy it

Compared to its German competitors, the Hyundai Santa Fe is way cheaper. It’s pretty tempting if you are looking for a keenly- priced big SUV. As mentioned above, it can be easily turned into a 7 seater thanks to two folding seats in the boot.  Obviously, these are meant for children rather than large size adults… There’s one and only version available, named “Shine”. Therefore, the equipment list is very impressive. A few extra packs are available but we doubt these are “must haves”.  The Santa Fe Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi is priced at 47.249€ , instead of 52.999€.

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Why I don’t buy it

Once available with a Diesel engine, nowadays the Santa Fe is only available as a petrol hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. This will not please derv fans who love big vehicles like this to deliver spades of low rev torque. This SUV demands a fair share of space, where ether you go, drive and park it. Even tough some might be upset by cheap, shiny and nasty interior fixtures, the Hyundai Santa Fe is extremely good value  As it offers a genuinely high equipment level for a keen price. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)

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