TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
You’re at a Hyundai dealer to purchase a practical SUV deeply lamenting that you can’t choose something sporty like the Hyundai Veloster. The salesman, pointing to a Hyundai Santa Fe SR channels the little girl from the taco ad and says, “why not have both?”
The Santa Fe SR is Hyundai’s entry into the sports SUV market, which has been dominated by German soft-roaders with far bigger price tags.
While it does look sportier than the other three models in the Hyundai Santa Fe range, it doesn’t come with a performance boost and is powered by the rather unsporty 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo engine, which does push it along well.
However it does have a suspension tweak with Tuix Performance Springs, big red Brembo brakes and Michelin Latitude tyres surrounding the very nice looking matte black 19-inch wheels.
Of the four Hyundai Sante Fe variants the SR is the most expensive, coming in at around just over $70,000 drive away.
- Braking. Usually it’s how a car goes that influences my thinking but it was the way this comes to a stop that impressed me most. The Brembo brake package – featuring 340 mm x 28 mm Ventilated Disc Brakes at the front, and 302 mm x 22 mm Ventilated Disc Brakes at the rear, with four-piston callipers – brings all 2.5 tonnes of Santa Fe to a stop in no time. It’s not often you can justify buying the sporty model of a family car for safety reasons.
- Handling. The SR’s suspension tweak, which includes the addition of Tuix Performance Springs, makes it handle quite well for an SUV. However it’s still pretty high off the ground, so expect some body roll when negotiating tight curves at speed. The 19-inch Michelin Latitude Tour HP tyres provide extra grip. On top of all that it’s a pretty comfortable ride with the suspension stiffening a little in Sports driving mode.
- Looks. The Series II Santa Fe looks great and the SR is the pick of the bunch. The body kit gives it an aggressive-look that’s complemented by the 19-inch black matt finish wheels with bright red Brembo brake callipers peeking between the spokes.
- Engine. While an unusual choice for a sports model the 2.2-litre turbo diesel pushes out 147kW and 440Nm of torque to provide a pretty nimble ride via the six-speed automatic gearbox. It has three driving modes, Eco, Normal and Sports – the last one getting you up to speed nicely before revving down. It’s pretty fuel efficient – during the week we had this it averaged 7.7L/100km.
- Features. This is a rather luxurious car with a heap of accessories including power operated ventilated/heated front seats, panoramic sunroof, lane departure warning and auto parking. The 8-inch touch screen offers a rear camera and inbuilt satnav, complete with fixed speed camera and speed zone change warnings.
- Interior styling. If I were reviewing the Santa Fe Highlander I’d have this as a strength. This is a rather opulent car with plenty of creature comforts including comfortable leather seats in the front and middle rows and a host of creature comforts. However, being a sports model, it would have been good if it was styled more like a Veloster than a Genesis
- Rear seat. The Santa Fe is one of the smallest seven-seaters and it shows down the back. The rear seats are really only useful for children who will find it pretty tight getting in. Once in there they will find themselves almost under the tailgate window with the d-pillar obstructing their side view. There is also minimal cargo space with the seats up. With the seats folded down there’s plenty of cargo space – but if you’re going to drive around like that all the time, you might as well save some dollars and get the Hyundai Tucson.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
The top-spec Kia Sorento Platinum CRDi does seven seats a little better and has similar engine performance without pretending to be sporty. It’s also around $10,000 cheaper, but doesn’t have the suspension improvements and Brembo brakes.
Click here to read the full review on the Hyundai Santa Fe range.