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Hyundai finesses Santa Fe

More style for Santa Fe: Hyundai's MY12 mid-size SUV scores alloy-look skid plates front and rear, plus a revised grille and headlights.

Upgraded MY2012 Santa Fe emerges in Korea as Hyundai prepares for local launch

25 Jul 2011

HYUNDAI has confirmed the facelifted MY2012 Santa Fe recently released in Korea will soon also become available in Australia.

The 2012 model year upgrade for Hyundai’s medium SUV contender comprises a number of cosmetic enhancements both inside and out, led by the addition of silver ‘skid plates’ for the front and rear bumpers.

Designed to take the Santa Fe more upmarket, the refreshed seven-seat crossover also features a new chromed grille with ‘floating’ Hyundai badge, revised headlights, high-gloss black (instead of silver) roof rails and, on premium versions, new machined-face 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels.

Inside, top-shelf MY12 Santa Fe models will also receive new suede leather seat trim and fresh woodgrain centre stack and trim highlights, plus the option of a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and a new satellite-navigation system with USB video playback functionality.

As part of Hyundai’s desire to give its mid-size crossover a more premium feel, all upgraded Santa Fe variants should receive leather seat upholstery, keyless entry and starting, and remote-controlled power-folding mirrors.

No mechanical changes are part of the MY12 upgrade, which will follow last month’s release of $1000-cheaper front-wheel drive Santa Fe variants that also brought V6 petrol power to the menu of Hyundai’s seven-seat family wagon.

While the Santa Fe is also available with a 2.0-litre diesel engine in Korea, the previously all-AWD Australian line-up became exclusively (2.2-litre R-Series) diesel-powered when a major midlife makeover was launched here in November 2009.

Prior to that, the vastly superior second-generation Santa Fe – first released in Australia in May 2006 – was also available with 2.7-litre and, briefly, 3.3-litre V6 petrol engines, the latter in 2WD-only guise.

The 2012 Santa Fe has been launched with significant price reductions in Korea despite its more upmarket features, but it remains to be seen whether similar price cuts will be applied in Australia, where the 2WD 3.5-litre V6 SLX now opens the Santa Fe range at $36,990 plus on-road costs.

Hyundai has sold 2.5 million Santa Few vehicles globally, but sales are down 21.5 per cent in Australia so far in 2011, with just over 2000 examples sold locally to June this year.

Slower Santa Fe sales have seen Hyundai’s share of Australia’s contracting medium SUV market, which is 15.6 per cent down this year, shrink from six to 5.6 per cent, placing it sixth behind Toyota’s Prado and Kluger, Ford’s Territory, Holden’s Captiva7 and Mitsubishi’s Pajero.

Toyota released redesigned Prado and facelifted Kluger models in Australia in November 2009 and November 2010 respectively, while an upgraded Captiva range followed in February this year, before Ford's facelifted and diesel-powered Territory went on sale in May.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia spokesman Ben Hershman told GoAuto that although Australian specifications were yet to be confirmed, Korea's MY12 Santa Fe line-up was indicative of the model range that will be released here "soon".

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