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Santa Fe goes front-drive

Dropped: Hyundai has discontinued its slow-selling Grandeur sedan flagship, with no replacement model in sight.

Hyundai Santa Fe joins 2WD ranks with V6 power, as Elantra nears and Grandeur goes

27 May 2011

HYUNDAI has introduced a new entry-level front-wheel drive petrol version of the Santa Fe, lowering the base price of its previously all-diesel, all-AWD mid-size SUV range by $1000 to $36,990 plus on-road costs.

At the same time, Hyundai’s slow-selling Grandeur sedan flagship has been officially discontinued and, as we’ve reported, will not be replaced by the all-new and much sleeker model already on sale in Korea.

Fresh from releasing a new entry-level 2.0-litre version of its mid-size i45 sedan to $26,990 plus ORCs earlier this month, Hyundai next month will launch its new MD-series Elantra, powered by a 110kW 1.8-litre petrol engine with both six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

Hyundai’s redesigned small sedan will be followed in August by the new RB-series Accent light sedan, the all-new VF-series i40 wagon in November and the all-new FS-series Veloster coupe in December, while Hyundai is also considering the i40 sedan for local release next year.

For now, however, the Santa Fe 2WD arrives in three all-auto specification grades, with base SLX, mid-range Elite and flagship Highlander variants mirroring the facelifted 2.2-litre R-Series diesel line-up released here in December 2009.

Priced from under $37,000, the first petrol-powered and first two-wheel drive variants of the latest Santa Fe do not match the cheapest front-drive versions of sister company Kia’s Sorento ($36,490) or equivalent versions of Holden’s recently facelifted Captiva seven-seater ($32,490).

1 center imageFrom top: Hyundai Elantra, Accent, i40 and Veloster.

Unlike its fellow Korean-built rivals, however, the new Santa Fe 2WD models offer six cylinders instead of four – in this case a 3.5-litre 32-valve DOHC ‘Lambda’ petrol V6 that delivers 204kW at 6300rpm and 335Nm at 5000rpm.

All three V6 models significantly undercut Australia’s top-selling six-cylinder medium SUV competitors in Ford’s heavily upgraded homegrown Territory and Toyota’s Kluger, both of which are priced from $39,990 in base 2WD TX 4.0 auto and 2WD KX-R 3.5 auto guises respectively.

Like all Santa Fe models, the new 3.5 comes as standard with seven seats and the same new Hyundai six-speed automatic transmission that debuted with the model’s beefy new 2.2 CRDi diesel engine – with the exception of the cheapest diesel variant (the $37,990 SLX 2.2 AWD, which is being offered with a free automatic transmission until the end of June).

Officially, however, while the new Santa Fe 2WD petrol auto is $1000 more affordable than its AWD diesel manual equivalent at base level, the mid-range 2WD 3.5 Elite auto ($40,990) and top-shelf 2WD 3.5 Highlander auto ($45,490) undercut their otherwise identically specified AWD diesel counterparts by $3000.

Shedding the diesel’s AWD system in part reduces the V6 Santa Fe’s kerb weight from 1988 to 1862kg, resulting in combined fuel consumption of 9.6L/100km (up from 6.7L/100km for the diesel manual and 7.5L/100km for the diesel auto) and CO2 emissions of 230g/km – up from a respective 176 and 197g/km.

Towing capacities are yet to be announced (and are likely to fall short of the AWD diesel’s 750/2000kg braked/unbraked figures), but the Santa Fe V6 is otherwise mechanically identical to the diesel auto, including internal gearbox and final drive ratios.

The belated replacement for the previously discontinued 3.3-litre V6 version – as forecast by GoAuto 18 months ago – should provide the Santa Fe with a welcome lift in sales, which are 18.3 per cent down at 1370 to April this year.

That represents 5.5 per cent of a medium SUV segment dominated by Toyota’s hard-core Prado (19.1 per cent), which leads the Kluger (16.4), Territory (11.8), Captiva 7 (11.2) and Mitsubishi’s Pajero (7.2)
2011 Hyundai Santa Fepricing:
3.5 V6 SLX 2WD$36,990 (new)
2.2 CRDi SLX AWD$37,990
3.5 V6 Elite 2WD (a)$40,990 (new)
2.2 CRDi Elite AWD (a)$43,990
3.5 V6 Highlander 2WD (a)$45,490 (new)
2.2 CRDi Highlander AWD(a)$48,490

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