Hyundai has launched its new third-generation Sante-Fe. It is more dynamic to look at and to drive. It has moved upmarket in quality, design and feel, writes Padraic Deane.
This has been done in response to a raft of competitors delivering more stylish, more technologically advanced, more dynamic driving and more efficient new models.
Against a background, where the old model (as of today ) has the highest market share in Europe, and nearly 8,000 of the second-generation models have been sold here since 2006, the new model is very important for Hyundai Cars Ireland. Along with the old Coupe, the Sante Fe is the surviving foundation stone upon which the marque has been built upon in Ireland.
The entry level 2 WD Comfort Manual version sells for €36,995. Next up is the 4 WD Executive Manual version at €40,995, with an automatic transmission option for an extra €4,000. The range topper is the 4 WD Premium Automatic for €48,995.
The new model is longer by 40mm, sits lower by 45mm and is slightly wider by 5mm, while it sits on a similar length wheelbase to the outgoing model. Seventeen inch alloy wheels are standard, including on the entry level 2 WD Comfort version.
From the outside, the design is much more dynamic especially from a side profile. It looks really well, right down to the twin exhaust on one side. You could say that it has now added real style to its recognised quality of substance. But the latter has also been expanded with more passenger space, a 10 per cent increase in boot space and seven seats as standard. The third row of seats fold flat into the floor and each of the three second-row seats can be dropped down individually.
Inside, there is a much more premium feel right through from the leather steering wheel and a quality finish throughout. Leather abounded in the model I drove briefly recently.
The new Santa Fe is powered by a lively and relatively refined 2.2 litre, 197 bhp diesel engine which emits 147 g/km CO2 from the 2WD version (149g/km from the 4WD ), putting it both in the current Band C for VRT and a current road tax level of €330 for a year. A low pressure ERG valve has helped reduce the CO2 levels in the manual gearbox versions.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard. There is an automatic transmission available as an option in 4WD versions, but this pushes emissions up to 175 g/km CO2. The higher VRT applied goes some way (but far from all the way ) towards explaining the €4,000 premium for an automatic transmission.
The standard specification includes the aforementioned leather multi-function steering wheel, electric windows, cruise control, electric lumber support (driver’s seat ), glove box cooler, reversing cameras, air conditioning, auto folding mirrors, Bluetooth, and the radio/CD system offers a USB and iPod connectivity.
The four wheel-drive version offers updated ‘Torque On Demand’, a more proactive system with new sensor controls.
Standard active safety features include driver and passenger airbags as well as side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags. ESP, VDC (vVehicle Dynamic Control ), Downhill Brake Assist and Hill Start Assist are all standard. An interesting addition is a Trailer Stability Assist System, and an Active Bonnet Safety System should benefit pedestrians in an impact situation.
Security features include an alarm function and auto locks. Tow bar wiring is also included as standard.
More good news for 2013 from Hyundai
In addition to the new Sante Fe and other new arrivals in the past year such as the all-new i40, the Veloster, i20 Diesel, and ix35 Commercial, Hyundai isn't resting on its laurels. It is to further increase its marketing and grow fleet sales in 2013.
For 2013, Hyundai Cars Ireland is embarking on some specific initiatives to make existing models more attractive to potential customers. An initiative like introducing a new entry level i10 at €10,995, where the existing base model today is the Deluxe at €12,745. Despite the lower specification, a €1,750 saving will attract more buyers.
The i20 ‘Classic’ will sell at €14,495 for the petrol version and €15,995 for the i20 Classic Diesel. Another move comes with the addition of a higher spec second level version of the i35 2WD for €1,000 more. And the i30 I.6 litre diesel now has 98 g/km CO2.
That will work to make it very price competitive under the proposed new VRT four level Band A system, as revealed by the Auto Trade Journal last month.
Finally, Hyundai also announced that its three year (60,000 km ) service plan is being extended to smaller cars in the range. And a company spokesman added that its marketing plans will target greater brand awareness of its five year full manufacturer’s warranty.