New look, new safety, more comfort

Mabuyane Kekana

Mabuyane Kekana

When Hyundai launched its new face-lifted Santa Fe last week it showed just how far the Korean car maker has come in improving on this model.

The outgoing Santa Fe lacked charisma, but Hyundai has managed to inject some personality into its latest version, though the feeling persists that it was inspired by VW's Touareg.

The new Santa Fe presents a contemporary appearance with more luxury features in the cabin, increased ride comfort levels, more space and greater versatility.

Four derivatives have been introduced in South Africa. Each is equipped with a 2,2litre turbo- charged diesel engine that powers a choice of 4x2 or 4x4 drive-trains.

The vehicle's remodelled cabin has been designed to offer a choice of five or seven seats. A choice of transmission is now between a five-speed manual or a five-speed automatic gearbox.

From the exterior, the new Santa Fe features dramatic, modern and flowing lines. The redesigned front end sports a new grille that not only helps to accentuate the elegance of the decked bonnet, but also accommodates changes made to the bumper section to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

Sculpted to include recessed fog lamps, a lower air intake and valance, the new geometric shape also helps to underscore the visual appeal of the vehicle's horizontally aligned, pod-type headlight clusters featuring clear glass, black bezels and projector-styled lights.

The vertical design of the centrally placed fascia console, which includes controls for a state- of-the-art audio system and a new dual-zone air-conditioner can be easily accessed by the front seat passenger. Controls within fingertip reach enable the driver to remotely access information from a trip computer, set the automatic cruise control, or select radio station frequencies, CD tracks and sound volume levels.

The driver's seat in the 4x4 version is now equipped with an electronically activated lumbar support function to help provide extra comfort.

Another practical refinement includes the adoption of active headrests on the front seat backs. The headrests are designed to protect occupants against whiplash, but they also contribute to the cabin's sense of elegance.

The 2,2 litre CRDi engine produces a decent 110kW at 4 000rpm and 335Nm of torque at 1 800rpm.

Safety has been enhanced in the form of an ABS and EBD braking system and electronic stability programme, active headrests, high tensile cabin reinforcement, strategically sited crumple zones and new generation airbags.

At R349 900, the new Santa Fe is a bargain.