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Driven: Hyundai’s freshens Santa Fe

Santa baby: The Hyundai Santa Fe gains some light styling tweaks but big gains in connectivity features with the mid-life facelift.

No surprises from Hyundai with Santa Fe's mid-life update


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10 Nov 2015

BUYERS of Hyundai's updated Santa Fe SUV will be better connected and safer than ever with the addition of more voice control options and automatic emergency systems for the refreshed high-riding wagon.

The South Korean giant will be hoping the restyled and restocked seven-seater improves on its 391-unit October sales performance and its mid-pack position in the large-SUV sales race.

Santa Fe year-to-date sales are up by 5.2 per cent on its 2014 performance but down on the segment growth rate of 8.4 per cent. The car-maker’s Australian arm was second to Toyota last month in overall sales, shifting 9003 units which is an improvement of 7.2 per cent for the year thus far.

Hyundai sits third overall, with year-to-date sales of 86,429 sales and is tracking toward a tally for the year of 104,000.

The Santa Fe sales mix is split between the base Active and mid-spec Elite which each make up around a quarter of its sales, while the diesel-auto-only Highlander is responsible for about 45 per cent.

But the facelifted model is under renewed competition in the segment from the rookies in Ford's Everest and the Toyota Fortuner, as well as established competition from Holden's Captiva and Colorado7, the Nissan Pathfinder, Jeep's Grand Cherokee, Isuzu's MU-X and Toyota's dominant duo, the Kluger and Prado.

Hyundai Australia director of marketing Oliver Mann said he was unconcerned by the influx of capable four-wheel drive competition arriving in the segment.

“They are selling to slightly different mindsets and lifestyle usages,” he said. “They are fairly hardcore vehicles in terms of towing and off-road ability, they are less successful perhaps in the city. Santa Fe manages to do both fairly successfully.”

Connectivity and safety are among the highlights for the facelifted Hyundai Santa Fe.

Autonomous emergency braking dwells within a suite of active safety systems (only available on the Highlander) and a 10-speaker premium sound system are among the upgrades for Hyundai's SUV flagship.

The range has also undergone extensive local suspension tuning as well as aesthetic tweaks inside and out.

Series II also gains – as standard equipment on all models including the base Active – voice activation for both Apple and Android phones, although integration of the music sharing systems from the respective companies remains a work in progress.

The four-tier Santa Fe Series II range comprises Active petrol and diesel variants with both a manual gearbox and an automatic transmission, with the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel automatic available in all grades – Active, Elite and Highlander.

The SR will go on sale early next year near its current $60,000 pricetag and while it loses the auto-parking system, it gains OZ alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber covering Brembo brakes, as well as H&R springs and a bodykit.

Both the petrol and diesel engines have been tweaked for the model upgrade. The 2.4-litre direct-injection variable-valve petrol engine has actually dropped power by 3kW to 138kW at 6000rpm and 241Nm of torque at 4000rpm is also down by 1Nm, but Hyundai is claiming output sacrifices have been made for improved driveability.

The petrol engine is available in both manual and automatic, both six speeders and both claiming a 0.3 increase in fuel use to 9.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

The 2.2-litre common-rail direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-diesel has an extra 2kW, with peak power of 147kW at 3800 rpm.

Torque of 440Nm (up 4Nm for the auto and 19Nm over the previous manual) for both transmissions is available across a slightly broader spread – 1750 and 2750rpm.

The turbo-diesel is offered in manual and automatic guises but three pedals are only offered in the Active, which claims 6.3L/100km in the manual and 7.7L/100km with the six-speed automatic, both slight (less than 0.5L/100km) improvements over the preceding models.

The exterior has been updated and bears a strong family resemblance to the revamped Tucson SUV, with updated front and rear bumper profiles, new-look headlights, new wheel designs and revamped front grilles.

The entry-level Active gets the chrome-on-silver grille, whereas the series II Elite and Highlander models are fitted with the satin-chrome version.

The cabin changes includes revamped instrument clusters, new sound system control units (larger displays now touch-controlled with USB, auxiliary and Bluetooth connections) and interior trim changes, with the base-model fitted with a wood-grain effect and the top two models getting a matte carbon look.

Adding to the lane departure warning already available on the top-spec Santa Fe, the Highlander is equipped autonomous emergency braking and forward collision warning, which uses the new active cruise control’s radar and lane departure camera between 8km/h and 70km/h for pedestrians and between 8km/h and 180km/h for vehicles to avoid or lessen an impact the system also provides audible and visual warnings for the driver.

Also on the top-spec Highlander’s safety features list are blind spot warning, lane change warning, rear cross traffic alert and the automatic parking system for parallel and perpendicular parking, as well as having an ‘exit’ mode to assist when leaving a space taken by using the automatic system.

Local suspension tuning was completed by the Hyundai Australia team with 64 different combinations of springs and dampers tested, the result being a four per cent increase in rear spring rate, while new-shape trailing arm bushes and an additional control arm are among the changes for the rear suspension.

Hyundai offers a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, as well as three years of sat-nav map updates and up to 10 years of roadside assistance (when serviced by its dealer network) and capped-price servicing.

The Santa Fe’s maintenance intervals are 15,000km or 12 months and the manufacturer said it ranges in price from $299 to $399 for the petrol and $379 to $499 for the diesel.

The upgraded entry-level Active price is unchanged from $38,490 for the six-speed manual, with the automatic pushing the price to $40,990 turbo-diesel versions are priced from $41,490 and $43,990.

The Active model now comes standard with touchscreen control for the six-speaker infotainment system, a 3.5-inch LCD centre screen, digital speedometer and integrated voice control that is both Siri and Android compatible.

The safety features list includes seven airbags – dual front, side, curtain (covering all three rows according to Hyundai) and a driver's knee airbag – anti-lock brakes with emergency assistance, stability and traction control, hill start and descent control, Hyundai's Active Locking Operation, automatic projector beam headlights, LED running and position lights, front and rear foglights, a reversing camera and rear sensors.

Standard fare in the entry level model includes 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone and audio link, an electric lumbar support for the driver, air-conditioning with rear vents, a ‘premium’ steering wheel (with audio controls) and gearshifter, cruise control, a trip computer, flat-folding middle seat row and a covered cargo area with luggage net.

The mid-spec Elite remains a diesel/auto only starting at $49,990 and for its $1500 price rise gains an 8.0-inch touchscreen-controlled infotainment system with sat-nav equipped with SUNA live traffic, an Infinity 550-watt Logic7 10-speaker surround sound system, auto-dipping side mirrors, front sensors, position memory for the driver's seat and power adjustment for the front passenger's seat.

The Elite's features list already included leather trim, climate control, keyless entry and ignition, rain-sensing wipers, an electric park brake, power-adjustable driver’s seat, colour centre display, auto-dimming centre rear vision mirror, insulated and tinted rear windows with a manual sunshade, an electric rear tailgate, power-folding and heated exterior mirrors, LED puddle and front door handle lights in front door handles, a cooled glovebox, static cornering lights and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The top-spec (until the SR arrives) Highlander has risen from $53,240 to $55,990 for the automatic turbo-diesel and for the price increase gains the upgraded 12-sensor auto-parking system, autonomous emergency braking and active cruise control, as well as forward collision, blind spot, lane departure and cross traffic warnings.

It has retained the panoramic glass sunroof, Xenon headlights, rear heated seats, heated and ventilated front seats, LED rear lights and 19-inch alloys.

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe pricing*
Active 2.4 GDi Petrol$38,490
Active 2.4 GDi Petrol (a)$40,990
Active 2.2 CRDi Diesel$41,490
Active 2.2 CRDi Diesel (a)$43,990
Elite 2.2 CRDi Diesel (a)$49,990
Highlander 2.2 CRDi Diesel (a)$55,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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