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Old 4th March 2014, 10:01   #1
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Default Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

The Hyundai Santa Fe has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 25.08 - 27.89 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Substantial size and presence. Great styling too
• Powerful & refined 194 BHP diesel engine
• Absorbent ride comfort matched to safe & predictable dynamics
• Fresh, high-quality interiors with comfortable seats
• Expansive feature list (xenon headlamps, selectable steering modes, dual-zone climate control etc.)
• 5-star safety rating. Equipment includes 6 airbags, ABS & EBD, ESP & TCS, hill start assist and more
• Hyundai's reliability and fuss-free ownership experience

What you won't:

• Premium pricing strategy. Noticeably more expensive than the Fortuner, Pajero Sport and others
• 3rd row of seats is severely short of headroom. Not a true 7 seater like some of its competitors
• Doesn't have the offroad capability of the body-on-frame alternatives
• No manual transmission with the AWD. The MT variant also loses a lot of safety equipment
• Soft suspension can result in a bouncy rear end at high speeds + undulating roads
• A sunroof, GPS navigation, front parking sensors & auto-dimming IRVM are sorely missed
• Vague steering feel & unenthusiastic AT gearbox take away from the driving experience

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th March 2014 at 18:06.
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Default re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

It's shocking that neither the No.1 car maker in India (Maruti) nor the No. 2 (Hyundai) have a single successful SUV in their portfolio. The Terracan, Tucson and 2nd-gen Santa Fe never caught the customer's fancy and saw merely double digit sales through most of their lives.

Of course, times have changed now. Unlike before where Hyundai was only selling hatchbacks and entry-level sedans in volumes, the company now leads the 10 lakh (C2) and 15 lakh (D2) sedan segments with the Verna & Elantra respectively. The Korean giant's product competency has greatly improved, especially in the areas of design, quality & equipment. Premium customers agree; the Elantra not only outsells its German competitors, but is also Hyundai's first success in the 10+ lakh sector.

This 3rd generation Santa Fe is globally available with short & long wheelbase options. In the USA, the long wheelbase variant is referred to as the '7 seater', while the short wheelbase is sold as a 5 seater & badged the "Santa Fe Sport". Hyundai has launched the shorter wheelbase model in India, but squeezed in 7 seats. I am surprised at this move, considering the Indian SUV buyer's obsession with size.

The Santa Fe has a monocoque construction with an independent suspension all around. Monocoque SUVs are generally lighter and offer superior ride & handling characteristics. On the flip side, they aren't suitable for off-roading or extreme abuse as their ladder-frame counterparts are. That's probably why monocoque SUVs don't usually offer a low-ratio 4x4 transfer case. Some examples of the two types:

Monocoque SUV: EcoSport, Duster / Terrano, CR-V, Outlander, Captiva, X-Trail, Koleos, Q3, X1
Body-on-Frame SUV: Scorpio, Safari, Fortuner, Endeavour, Pajero Sport, Rexton, MU-7

Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review-hyundai-santa-fe-specifications-vs-competitors.png

The Santa Fe wears Hyundai's new Storm Edge styling which is basically an evolved version of the Fluidic design language. Viewed in person, the SUV's large size with beautifully sculpted curves makes it an extremely attractive vehicle. The front end is especially aggressive, although the chrome treatment is a bit too much. The side profile is smart and showcases the SUV's proportionate lines. The rear looks tight, especially with those eye catching LED lamps. That said, the Santa Fe has a low stance by SUV standards and isn't as butch as the Fortuner or Pajero Sport. Hyundai has equipped it with large 18" rims, but the 235 mm tyre width is on the slimmer side (Fortuner = 265/65 R17).

Unlike the Fortuner which has been developed only for developing countries, the Santa Fe is sold in first world markets like the USA & Europe. That, combined with its 5-star rating in the Euro NCAP, makes us confident of its crashworthiness. Where the earlier Santa Fe was imported as a CBU, this 3rd-gen car is locally assembled as a CKD. This hasn't helped the price at all though and the Santa Fe continues on as a 30 lakh SUV. Build quality is premium and feels sufficiently solid. The fit, finish & paint job are absolutely top notch. Panel gaps aren't an issue, although I did find them to be excessive at some places (e.g. near the headlamp & bonnet areas).

Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review-hyundai-santa-fe-features.png

Hyundai's Fluidic design theme, or Storme Edge as they call it for the Santa Fe makes it look funky from the front end. Looks can give a tough fight to similar products from the European Big Three:

Not the typical boxy SUV rear (like the Fortuner). This is more on the lines of a crossover than a full grown SUV:

Hexagonal front grille in chrome looks good. Sloping bonnet and low seating height make sure the bonnet isn't visible from the driver’s seat:

Folks assumed it to be the Q3 / Q5 from a distance! But do note, this design is eating through 3rd row space (more on that in the interior post):

Black cladding all around adds to the character, also prevents scratches to painted surfaces:

18" diamond cut alloys running on 235/60 R18 Nexen tyres:

The Santa Fe comes with all 4 disc brakes:

Xenon projector headlamp for the low beam, and halogen lamp for the high beam. The low beam projector does a good job of illuminating the road:

LED position lamp runs the full length of the headlamp, from the top. DRLs are missing:

Headlamp washer can be activated only when the headlamp is on & on low beam (function clubbed with the windscreen wash + wipe):

Fog lamps with cornering functionality light up along with the turn indicator:

Wraparound LED tail lamps look very upmarket:

Power folding (Automatic) ORVMs with LED turn indicators. They fold out (with an indicator blink notification) as soon as you walk close to the car:

White puddle lamps (under the ORVMs) activate when you walk close to the car as well:

Chrome door handle with a request sensor. Would have been nice if the keyhole was completely hidden like the Chevy Cruze:

Hyundai calls this pocket lighting, i.e. backlight for the door handles. Nifty feature at night. However, it is provided only for the front doors:

No sunroof at this price is a downer:

Spare wheel is a full size alloy & mounted under the car. Twin chrome exhaust tips at the RHS. Spare wheel is mounted low, spoils the departure angle / ground clearance:

Parking sensors at the rear are neatly installed. They match the colour of the cladding:

Reverse camera located next to the rear LHS number plate lamp:

Posing with the current segment leader, the Toyota Fortuner:

Smaller scale of the Santa Fe is evident from all sides, when compared to the Fortuner:

Although a tad smaller, the Santa Fe looks far more premium:

Ground clearance of merely 185 mm:

Plastic underbody protection & skid plates:

Funky cut for the rear quarter glass. Does nothing to make the 3rd row feel airy:

Roof-mounted antenna is similar to the 1st-gen Hyundai Verna's unit:

Some panel gaps are unduly wide. You expect tight shut lines at this price:

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th March 2014 at 18:08.
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Default re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Interiors - Front

Walk up to the Santa Fe with the smartkey in your pocket and the ORVMs unfold outward, the puddle lamps (below the ORVMs) activate and lights behind the front door handles illuminate...all automatically. Simply press the request sensor on the door handle to open the SUV. Because the Santa Fe isn't too high, you don't have to 'climb' into the vehicle. Ingress & egress are effortless.

The interiors get Hyundai's newest design theme. For instance, the large center console is hexagonal, surrounded by arrow-shaped air-con vents. The Santa Fe looks & feels contemporary on the inside, while quality, fit & finish are excellent. It's more like a luxury sedan in here. This is a crucial advantage over the utilitarian interiors of the Fortuner; in fact, many complain of an Innova-like ambience inside Toyota's 25 lakh SUV.

The colour theme in use is dark brown, with inserts of light beige (the seats are beige too). The steering wheel is well-designed and good to hold. It offers rake & reach adjustment. However, I found the reach adjustment to be too limited, with the steering not coming out as far out as some drivers prefer. The integrated controls (phone, audio, cruise control, MID, flex steer) feel premium enough. The double-barrel meter console appears to be heavily inspired by the Mercedes M-Class. On the other hand, the audio system has a ridiculously small touchscreen display. It is more i10-size than large SUV and looks totally out of place here. What's more, the sound quality is mediocre by luxury car standards. We'll give it a 6 / 10 for the audio experience. While the audio system accepts the usual inputs (USB, CD, Aux-in, Bluetooth), GPS navigation hasn't been offered. The ICE display is also used by the reversing camera. You'll need that as the rearward view (for the driver) is poor. Considering the enormous bonnet area, Hyundai should have equipped the Santa Fe with front parking sensors as well. While on the topic of missing equipment, I'm shocked there is no sunroof in the Santa Fe. Hyundai used to offer a sunroof in the i10 & i20 at one time; why not in their flagship product of today?

The large front & middle row seats have excellent support. The seating position is typical of crossovers: high, but not as high as in ladder frame SUVs like the Fortuner, Pajero Sport and Rexton. From the driver's seat, frontal visibility is fine. Raising the seat height improves the visibility, but it does spoil the ergonomics by moving some of the controls a bit too far away. Overall ergonomics feel best with the seat height set to lower positions. Lateral visibility though isn't as good, hampered by the small glass area and high position of the windows. This can pose a problem in tight parking spots or on rough roads. On one such instance where I was trying to manoeuvre the SUV over an offroad obstacle, I had to make a lot of effort to get a clear look outside. With the high placed window line, rear passengers are definitely going to feel uncomfortable, especially those of short height.

The climate control system offers dual-zone adjustment at the front and air-con vents for all 3 seat rows. As is the case with most Hyundai cars, the air-conditioner is powerful and felt so even in the hot & humid conditions of Kerala. The climate control gets a traditional looking display and isn't integrated with that of the audio system.

Premium interiors. Dashboard looks good:

Leather-wrapped steering wheel is good to hold and loaded with controls. Stretch your thumb to reach the horn pad:

Twin pot, chrome bezel instrument cluster stays illuminated during the day. Is miles ahead of what the segment best-seller is offering. Dials and display are rear set, hence there is no issue of glare when driving under the sun:

The MID:

Other MID functions:

Steering mode selection also shows up on the MID:

Confirmation signs for the AWD lock, hill descent control, ESP off and cruise control:

Instrument cluster brightness can be adjusted, during the day & at night:

The engine start / stop button:

Control stalks are thick and have a soft response on use:

Steering-mounted controls feel premium to operate:

Button on the LHS bottom is for selecting the different steering modes:

Hill descent, AWD lock, ESP off & ECO mode controls on the right of the dashboard:

A rather conventional center console. Looks average when compared to the stuff around:

Head-unit with a painfully tiny touchscreen! 6 speakers (2 tweeters):

USB + Aux-in along with two charging points, ahead of the gear lever. Flaps feel like they will last the distance:

Reverse camera display on the head-unit:

Parking sensor display is located on the MID. Too much to look around while reversing: Rear camera in the head unit, parking sensor in the MID and all 3 mirrors. What would you chose?

Dual-zone climate control. The Elantra gets cooled seats, but the Santa Fe doesn't! Note the A/C rear button. It can turn on the rear air conditioning only when the switch is turned on from the 3rd row (without which, pressing this button makes no difference):

Leather-wrapped gear lever for the autobox. Tiptronic available:

12-way electrically adjustable driver's seat:

Manual adjustment for the front passenger. It lacks lumbar support adjustment as well:

Wide footwell has sufficient space. Organ-type accelerator pedal feels great to use. Extreme left lever is the kick-down parking brake (not the clutch). No, it isn't user-friendly:

Center armrest is a boon. Could have been placed higher though:

Accommodating storage bin for your wallet & other items:

Storage bin - on top of the dashboard - has a super thick lid:

Illuminated + cooled glovebox is medium sized:

Rearward visibility for the driver is poor:

Inside rear view mirror covers the rear windscreen completely. Shocking that it's not an electrochromic unit (even the Verna has it):

Heated ORVMs have a good viewing range:

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th March 2014 at 16:36.
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Default re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Interiors - Rear

Space for the middle row is good, although the Santa Fe isn't as spacious as the Fortuner. The middle row has fore & aft adjustment. You can slide it forward to increase legroom for 3rd row occupants (or vice versa). The middle row seats can be reclined and at the maximum recline angle, they make for a really comfortable place to relax. The 3rd row of seats is good only for kids or short adults. There is a severe shortage of headroom at the back! Further, legroom is limited if the 2nd row is adjusted for a medium-sized adult. I'm not surprised this short wheelbase version of the Santa Fe is sold as a 5-seater in the USA.

Door opens wide enough, but ingress / egress isn't all that easy:

2nd row is most comfortable for two:

The min / max legroom:

2nd row seats have fore & aft adjustment:

The reclining range (for 2nd row seats) is ample:

A close look at the perforated leather seat upholstery:

Center armrest with pop-out cup holders:

2nd row A/C vents are placed on the B pillars. Horizontal & vertical adjustment possible. Can be shut completely too:

Negligible floor hump, typical of monocoque SUVs. Black carpeting is a boon:

Seatback pockets also in leather:

Rear doors have bottle holders:

Look how that window sill sweeps up!

Manual sun-blinds on the 2nd row windows:

40:20:40 split. Skis? Long items? No problem in carrying it:

This is the entry passage to the 3rd row. You can clearly see from the space available that getting back there isn't easy nor comfortable:

Pull this flap (next to the neck restraint) to pull the seat forward:

The 3rd row seats:

3rd row seats have a 50:50 split:

Barely any headroom for adults. This seat is best suited to kids and / or short distances. The less I speak about going over a large bump, the better:

With the 2nd row seat pushed all the way back... pushed all the way forward:

A/C control at the rear:

Cooling vents under the 2nd row seats (for the feet of 3rd row occupants):

The 3rd row gets a cup-holder and small storage cubicle:

Boot space with 3rd row folded down:

Negligible boot space with the 3rd row up:

With 2nd & 3rd rows down:

Tool kit and other goodies neatly tucked in:

Emergency fuel lid release and one of the many hooks:

Boot can be opened from the inside as well. Push to the right to open:

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th March 2014 at 16:37.
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Default re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

The Santa Fe is powered by a 4 cylinder, 2.2 Liter, 4th generation common-rail diesel. This motor makes 194 BHP @ 3800 rpm & 436 Nm @ 1800 - 2500 on the AT variant (Manual transmission = 421 Nm). The 2.2 liter engine may not be as big as the competitors in terms of sheer cubic capacity, yet its power output makes it the most powerful in the segment:

Unfortunately for manual gearbox fans, the MT is only available in the 2WD avatar with a lower level of equipment. The automatic is sold with both, 2WD & AWD layouts. We drove the AWD AT for this review. The 6-speed automatic transmission has regular P-R-N-D modes, along with tiptronic controls to manually shift gears. There is no 'sport' mode or paddle shifters available with the Santa Fe. The transmission is a traditional torque-converter type unit.

With the smartkey in your pocket, simply press the brake pedal and hit the engine start / stop button to fire up the 2.2L diesel. NVH levels at idle - including clatter - are superbly controlled. In fact, when driving about at city speeds, passengers won't even know that there is an oil burner under the hood.

The best thing about these torque converter transmissions is how well they mask turbo lag (compared to an MT or DSG). The Santa Fe moves in a smooth, seamless manner. Gearshifts are very smooth; with light accelerator input, the SUV shifts up early, absolutely devoid of any jerks. As is the case with other Hyundai cars, all driver controls are light, making it a surprisingly easy UV to drive in urban conditions. A lady who hadn't driven such a large vehicle before had absolutely no trouble behind the Santa Fe's wheel. Stay at lower rpms with a relaxed driving style and the impressively low NVH makes it comfortable for passengers. Owners are going to love this trait. On the move, the engine is as silent as some of the more expensive cars from Europe. What's more, at higher speeds too, overall noise levels remain low, and the suspension does its work in an unobtrusive manner. The single fly in the ointment is excessive tyre noise on imperfect roads.

With a laid back driving style, the gearbox & engine combination comes across as competent. Gearshifts are executed well and there is no unnecessary holding of gears either. Driveability all through the rev range is satisfactory. Its only when you start pushing this vehicle aggressively that you come across the flaws. While the engine is powerful & eager, the slow gearbox takes its own sweet time to execute shifts. Floor the accelerator and it takes a second or two before the Santa Fe starts accelerating furiously. Initially, it makes some noise typical of torque converters. Once past this delay, the Santa Fe feels quick and the speedometer climbs with a rapid pace. Gearshifts in manual mode (via tiptronic) are slow, and the transmission doesn't hold onto gears either. As soon as the needle hits the redline, the gearbox will upshift. This can catch you out in a fast corner.

Despite the penalty that the automatic transmission implies on the otherwise powerful CRDi, overall acceleration and cruising ability are top notch. The dash to the 100 is dismissed off in just under 10 seconds (Fortuner = 12.x seconds) and the Santa Fe's outright performance on the open road is impressive.

The ride & handling package of monocoque SUVs is superior to their body-on-frame counterparts, with the Santa Fe being no different. It is actually similar to the older generation Santa Fe....not necessarily a bad thing. I always considered the earlier Santa Fe to be better sorted in terms of road behaviour than other Hyundai cars. The 2014 Santa Fe is softly sprung, a typical trait of Hyundais. Ride quality is supple at low speeds and the suspension absorbs bad roads in a compliant manner. Suspension noise is almost inexistent, it stays silent no matter what kind of surface you are driving on. This is a significant advantage over its chief competitor - the Fortuner - which suffers from a bumpy ride. On undulating tarmac though, the Santa Fe gets bouncy at speed. With just 2 people onboard, there was an annoying amount of up & down movement at the rear of the vehicle. Considering the soft suspension setup, this is definitely going to get worse with load. The long wave bounce starts to get irritating after some time...the consistent floating feel spoiling the otherwise well-sorted onroad experience.

Hyundai has added a new feature - Flex Steer - to the Santa Fe. In a nutshell, this system alters the steering weight from light -> medium -> firm levels. There are 3 available modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. The modes can be switched on the fly, via a button on the steering wheel. Engage comfort mode and the steering is super light, effortless & ideal for city driving. It's as light as that of a small hatchback. Sport mode does firm things up noticeably. While this is preferred for highway runs, don't expect an enthusiast's wheel. Even in Sport mode, the EPS feels vague and disconnected. It does no wonders to the feel whatsoever.

As expected from a crossover with a monocoque chassis and an independent suspension all around, the dynamics are superior to other ladder-frame SUVs. The Santa Fe can be thrown into corners in a way that the Fortuner & Pajero Sport can only dream about. Overall handling for the most part stays predictable. Of course, on the limit, there is a lot of understeer and front heaviness felt. Body control is decent and roll is well controlled (although obvious on the limit). The Santa Fe will certainly handle an emergency manouveur better than the Toyota or Mitsubishi. On the flip side, the driving involvement I'd expect from a crossover of this type is completely missing. This is partly due to the vague steering and the automatic transmission's tendency to upshift at will. But even if you leave these two factors aside, the Santa Fe is no X1 / Q3 around corners. It's nowhere as agile or fun as the Germans or even the CR-V & Outlander. Due to its size & soft suspension, the Hyundai is best enjoyed in a relaxed manner.

There's a laundry list of electronic safety aids that will help you, should a troublesome situation arise. The kit includes ESP, traction control, ABS + EBD, brake assist system, hill start assist, downhill brake control and more. The Santa Fe is equipped with disc brakes on all 4 wheels. Initial feel is spongy. Past this, the pedal feels responsive. Overall braking performance is good for a vehicle of this size. Stability under hard braking at speed is excellent.

The AWD System

The Santa Fe's All Wheel Drive system isn't a full-time 4WD. Like most other crossovers, it drives primarily in FWD mode with zero power transferred to the rear axle. It's only when the electronics detect traction loss that the AWD mode is activated. AWD engagement and disengagement are seamless, with the driver completely unaware of when the SUV moves between FWD <-> AWD modes. The best part about this AWD system is that it doesn't spoil the fuel economy, except from the additional weight of its components. My Mahindra XUV500 AWD uses the same kind of hardware.

There is no low range transfer case on offer. The "AWD lock" button will permanently engage the AWD system for a 50:50 torque split between the front & rear axles. The 'AWD lock' is active until 40 kph, after which the system will again move to part-time AWD mode (i.e. powering the rear wheels only when required).

Use AWD lock when you are driving on low traction surfaces. It will easily handle the occasional sand, slush & snowy conditions. But be warned, the Santa Fe is not an offroader. If that is your requirement, look at the body-on-frame 4x4s with a low ratio transfer box.

The Santa Fe is rated for merely 185 mm of ground clearance (Fortuner = 221 mm). That's inferior compared to the outgoing generation. Further, where the ol' Santa Fe featured an angled bumper, the new car wears a conventional design that will easily get damaged. Don't be misled by the silver plastic skidplates at the front & rear, they aren't of any help offroad. The underbody protection plate (under the engine) is made of plastic. I found the ground clearance at other spots to be lower as compared to the outgoing model. The spare wheel is mounted quite low and will hamper the departure angle. As a net result, even on small obstacles, the SUV scrapes against the surface. The independent rear suspension has limited articulation (compared to solid axle competitors) and the front / rear diffs are open. As I mentioned earlier in the review, lateral & rearward driver visibility is hampered too. We can safely conclude that the Santa Fe is suited to mild offroad duty only.

Gear indicator in Tiptronic mode (not in D mode):

The ECO sign, below the MID:

Gas struts to keep the bonnet up (on both sides):

See this video from 12:00 onward. Shows how a modern monocoque SUV can maintain its composure in an emergency manouveur:

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th March 2014 at 16:38.
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Default re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

The Smaller yet Significant Things:

Turn indicator has a single LED bulb at the extreme end, this allows the vehicle behind / next to you to notice the turning indication clearly:

Wipers have a quick & large swipe:

Even the cladding is Fluidic:

Korean Nexen Roadian 581 tyres:

Low placed rear foglamps + reflectors:

The door-open warning lamp:

Close look at the faux carbon fiber finish on the dashboard:

Check how the A/C vent curves out:

And the funky instrument cluster:

The car runs a system check when you hit the engine start / stop button:

A small bluish ambient light (on the front cabin lights console):

Good attention to detail; the rubber floor (of the cup-holders) can be pulled out for cleaning:

Glovebox is lockable:

Glossy smartkey:

Both sunvisors get a vanity mirror with illumination:

Badged scuff plates:

Driver doorpad has a bottle holder and space for other oddities:

Uniquely placed fuel-lid release button (on the driver's doorpad):

Nifty spot to place your smartphone (ahead of the driver armrest):

Euro-style neck restraints:

Rear window goes down all the way, notice how the window sill moves upward towards the end:

Disclaimer : Hyundai invited Team-BHP for the Santa Fe test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

• Thanks to Parrys for his help with the pictures & shooting the interiors!

Last edited by GTO : 4th March 2014 at 10:55.
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The Duchess & the Dirtwater Fox - A Fortuner Owner's Perspective

And let me hasten to add that the Duchess here was no dancehall girl but one of nobility and grace and that the Dirtwater Fox is and shall remain exactly that - a rough and ready, street smart bloke !
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And that about sums up my experience with the Santa Fe in a bid to compare it with the Toyota Fortuner. Thanks to TBHP, I test drove the Santa Fe on a bright & cheerful Sunday afternoon for about an hour trying to get a feel of the vehicle.

However it must be kept in mind that:
- My experience of the Toyota Fortuner has been only with Admiral, a Feb 2011, AWD, M/T. Luckily nothing much has changed here on the engine, transmission and suspension front/s from the early days of the Fortuner in India.
- The Hyundai I tested was a 2014 AWD 6 speed A/T.

Drove for some time on a near empty highway and then a run through the interior roads of Thane.

Here are a few impressions & snaps - from my camera thrown in for good effect !

What tickled me pink:

1. The engine was very refined indeed. The NVH was very, very low. I missed the throaty growl of the Fortuner at times.
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2. Very easy to get into the vehicle - almost like a sedan. The vehicle has no running board and doesn't require one either. And easy to get out as well. But I thwaked my head 2/3 times getting out. But more of that later.

3. It look me sometime to get used to the layout and the fact that it was an A/T. Where the clutch was supposed to be...the foot activated parking brake was and it wasn't surprising that initially the warning went off few times. Much to the exasperation of Parry from TBHP. Hyundai could have selected a slightly better spot for this I felt or better still could have had it as a hand activated one. This is located exactly in between where the dead pedal & clutch is located in the Fortuner.

4. The interior was rather plush compared to the utilitarian though functional interior of the Fortuner. I could make out that the quality & finish of most of the interior bits appeared to be good. However some plastic bits - the seat releasers at the back of the seats, the seatbelt hook end plastic covers etc appeared to be flimsy and cheap. Some of them were off colour too.

5. The ride quality was very smooth and soft. The suspension tune absorbs all the rough patches pretty admirably.
Funny, must be personal, but I quite like the taut and stiff feel of the Fortuner though it can throw you around at times.

6. The handling and control was extremely good and felt almost like a sedan. Tried quite a few curves at high speed and never did it feel that the vehicle was going out of control or that there was an unacceptable level of body roll. However in this area the Fortuner too does well for itself though a shade lesser than the Santa Fe. What also helps the Santa Fe here is that it is slung pretty low for an SUV. So I presume that's why it hugs the road very well.

7. Tried the brakes and tried them hard. Very reassuring. The all disc set up is a real boon (front ventilated and rear solid). Dead halts and no dramatics.

8. I had set the driver's seat to the highest possible setting - yet the relative perch felt too low but the sharp downward slope of the bonnet helped to see the edges of the vehicle much better which is a blessing in our crowded urban environs.

9. Once the Santa Fe got going the 194 horses were evident. 436 NM torque too was evident when required on some climbs.

10. Steering wheel is contoured and grippy though small and felt good in the hands.

11. Driver's seat is very comfortable with a gadzillion positions thanks to the electrically controlled recline, forward and aft positioning, thigh support etc. However the Fortuner's seat is larger and sort of cocoons you and to my mind a little more comfortable for a bulk of my size.

12. The dashboard and instruments panel etc was very nice and placed well however some of the fonts of the MID could have been larger.

13. Initially I thought that the ORVMs could have been bigger but then realised that it was adequate.

14. Plenty of toys and features. It would take the owner years to play around and figure out everything. Staring from the proximity key, all the driving controls - hill assist, ESP, buttons for this, buttons for that...most of which I couldn't figure out.
(At some point of time I asked Parry as to how to shut the engine off, as I forgot that it has a proximity key and couldn't find the key, his eyes rolled heavenwards and pointed to the Start- Stop Button. I think I heard him mutter the word 'Alibaug'. Couldn't be sure though !)

15. Flat luggage area with the rear seats folded is a great advantage. The middle row too folds forward to give a near flat surface which then makes the area quite cavernous.
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The stowaway area also looked neat.
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16. I got down on my knees and peered under the vehicle and found everything tucked away very neatly with plastic skid plates all around. But plastic. The front plastic sump/engine guard was already badly scraped. And the plastic scrape remains looked ugly.

17. I was only paying attention to the vehicle's characteristics after requesting Parry to shut the music system off and towards the end of the drive he switched it on - and sought my opinion. To my musically disinclined ears it sounded very premium and notes ahead of the OE system of the Fortuner. To me ICE just means cubes.

And now areas that got my goat:

1. From the outside in comparison the Santa Fe looks rather small. And has a slouch or wait...even a hunchback. Though I wouldn't go so far as to call it Quasimodo. The stance, gait and looks are a bit of a downer for me.
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2. From some angles it almost looks like....well ! In fact when we had parked next to the Upvan Lake and were poking around, an acquaintance of mine ambled across and asked me as to when had I gotten myself the XUV 500. It took me some time to pick up Parry's jaw from the ground and place it back in its original position. Serious.

3. Space. Space is an issue in the Santa Fe. It felt claustrophic in the cabin. Felt as though the well designed & curvy dash was enveloping and rushing at me at high speeds. It was quite disconcerting.
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While driving I felt as though I was sitting in the narrow confines of a confession booth with Parry the Padre listening to and recording my confessions on the other side...

The third row can be a substitute for the torture chair for any correctional facility/jail. Don't have to strap them in - it is a torture to just squeeze in. Take them for a spin. Go over a road hump and the crack on the head does the rest. The rear portion of the roof is very low indeed and if unwittingly the driver goes over a hump at a relatively high speed then the occupants better be wearing helmets.
I think it would have been better to leave it as a 5 seater rather than a 7 seater.

Twice or thrice as I got out of the vehicle, which was a breeze, I hit my head pretty hard on the frame. I must be clumsy at my age I guess.

I thought the Fortuner had a space issue but then I am wiser now.

4. The rear visibility is poor after the airy, panoramic view of the Fortuner.
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I can see the Tucson rear windshield.
I guess that's where technology comes to help in the form of sensors and camera etc.

5. After casting off I found that the A/T was very, very lethargic for the first few seconds. Rather irritating.

6. A big blow to me was that after driving for the first 20 minutes I felt my shoulders aching. I suddenly realised that there was no space at all to rest my right hand/elbow on the door moulding. And at the high position I had slotted the driver's seat in, my left hand just couldn't find a comfortable position on the centre arm rest. This proved for me - a negative. To my mind this would be a big contributing factor for driver fatigue on long distance runs. At least for a guy of my size who has no place to rest his hands/elbows.

7. The steering was rather vague.
The steering setting (Flexi Steer feature) was increased from 'Comfort' to 'Normal' to 'Sport'. But it only stiffened it in terms of the feedback, as I experienced, but didn't do much for the accuracy.

8. The ground clearance is 180 mm and the fuel tank capacity 64Ls. The front guard was already scraped rather badly during one of the previous outings, I guess. The Fortuner's 221mm ground clearance ensures that you can peacefully pass over sleeping hippopotamuses (or 'hippopotami' as some true blue English teachers have taught us !) and not disturb them one bit. And its 81Ls fuel tank ensures you visit the bunk less. But then yeah, the Santa Fe's assumed better FE figures could equalise the volume advantage of the Fortuner.

9. To my eye the Santa Fe has very little road presence as compared to the ruffian of the roads.

10. There was quite a bit of sound in the cabin during the run on the highway. Wasn't sure what it was - but given the fact that the engine was a refined one - it could only mean that it was the unduly high tyre hum ?

11. The vehicle that I tested had done just about 2.5K KMs but already needed to head for a serious session of wheel alignment. It was pulling quite a bit to the left. I know that it was a test mule and guys from various mags and what have you would have whipped it hard. But then does it speak about its underpinning/s unable to handle much abuse ?

12. Some questions that crossed my mind to which I have no answers right now:
- Is it abuse friendly and as forgiving as a Toyota Fortuner ? I am not so sure.
- Will the Indian ASCs be able to handle a vehicle with such amount of gadgetry and electronic wizardy ? I have some doubts here.
- Cost of maintenance and parts ?
- No doubt that the Santa Fe is meant to live its life as an owner driven vehicle. Will it survive the rough ministrations of a mercenary driver ?
- Time shall certainly answer the question of reliability. But being a product of Korean genes I don't think there should be a doubt around this attribute.

And finally an attribute that is very close to my heart. Character. Some may term it as, possibly, appeal.
As of now to my eye and mind, try as I might, I can't sense that the new Santa Fe has a strong or a definitive character. Could be very personal or that I spent too little a time with it.
But then I reckon that's what the Fortuner has by the bushels.

My overall take is that it would be a great city slicker - don't expect it to be an extreme weekend warrior as well and take you to where no man has gone before. It is, in my opinion, a good soft roader which could be pushed a bit into areas which could seem a little more adventurous for a standard soft roader. But nothing beyond that.
I didn't have a chance to try it out on a 4X4 trail and so the last statement is based on my perception and feel of the vehicle.

Aloha !

.................................................. ...

Last edited by GTO : 5th March 2014 at 13:39. Reason: As requested
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Old 4th March 2014, 11:33   #8
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Thank you, Fantastic review as always, Anshuman! Rated thread 5 stars.

The way that I see things, the Santa Fe is a luxury SUV while the Fortuner is a bullet-proof truck. The Hyundai beats the Toyota in on-road behaviour, handling, comfort & luxury. On the other hand, the Fortuner is the one you want if the need necessitates abusive driving conditions, carrying 7 adults or offroad use. From the options available in the 25 lakh segment, the Fortuner always had reliability & durability going for it. Well, Hyundai has proven in the last decade that it's reliability is just as good. And Hyundai's after-sales is competent too.

It might cost 4 lakhs more, yet that is easily justified by the superior comfort & equipment levels (add a rupee value to all the additional features - including 4 more airbags - and it's net positive). In terms of safety also, the Santa Fe got a 5-star Euro NCAP rating (other than the CR-V & Captiva, none of the competition has managed this). To those who were driven away from the unreliable nature of the premium European SUVs, this is a worthy alternative.

Wildcard entry to the equation: The XUV500 6-speed AT expected next year. If Mahindra has sorted out all the niggles by then, and the AT is well mated to the engine, it's going to provide an unbeatable value proposition for those looking at a comfortable AT SUV.
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Old 4th March 2014, 12:00   #9
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Good Review.
Guderian's inputs was the icing on the cake.
New development, Hyundai can match Toyota's reliability and can charge 4Lacs above the Fortuner for the features,safety and comfort.

Purists will disagree, saying Santa Fe is a AWD (soft roader) and low ground clearance and that Fortuner is a 4WD (real deal).

We will have to wait and watch the sales figures over the next few months to understand who the new leader in this segment is .

Last edited by F150 : 4th March 2014 at 12:03.
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Old 4th March 2014, 12:41   #10
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Thank you for a fabulous review !
Cleared quite a few doubts I had gathered during the brief time I spent with the Santa Fe and couldn't check out due to paucity of time.

Of course this thread gets a 5* rating from my side...for more reasons than one !

Last edited by Guderian : 4th March 2014 at 13:08.
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Old 4th March 2014, 13:01   #11
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Thanks for the Great review. To me, the Santa Fe just feels very much Hyundai. High levels of equipment and upmarket materials.

May not yet be up to the levels of reliability and usability of a Toyota. Looking at the Fortuner and Santa Fe side by side, I felt that they do not necessarily belong to the same segment.

One is a butch - a real SUV while the other is a luxury sedan wearing the clothes of an SUV...
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Old 4th March 2014, 13:13   #12
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Superb review as always! Enjoyed reading through it.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Wildcard entry to the equation: The XUV500 6-speed AT expected next year. If Mahindra has sorted out all the niggles by then, and the AT is well mated to the engine, it's going to provide an unbeatable value proposition for those looking at a comfortable AT SUV.
If M&M plonks in a reliable A/T into the XUV and prices it well (around the ballpark of ~18L OTR?), it would be a very tempting proposition! How does the Rexton A/T figure among the A/T SUV choices?
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Old 4th March 2014, 13:44   #13
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Thanks for the excellent review Anshuman.
Now we have one more option to fill the gap between Fortuner and other germans from same segment.
- Its good to see that Hyundai has paid full attention to safety where Toyota is lacking miserably.
- Many will show concern about high pricing, but seems justified with the features ,safety and excellent interior packaging.
- Though I personally dont like the funky dashboard, it feels more upmarket than Pajero, Outlander, T Forte, Captiva & X Trail.
- Many of the SUV owners in India seldom use them for off-roading hence lack of offroading capabilities wont be a major concern for buyers.
- Spare tire location looks cumbersome.
- Also position of parking brake is awkward too.
- Besides such small niggles, overall packaging is desirable at this price point.

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Old 4th March 2014, 14:57   #14
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Thanks for so detailed & comprehensive review 5 *****

My negatives
- No sunroof

- Too many controls on the steering. I personally do not like this. Max would be to provide controls to control the music volume and to change tracks.

- Too many design elements. Even inside. Again, this is personal.

- Low GC, but again this trait is understandable, this being a urban SUV. But plastics early.

- Some features missing wrt to the Elantra.

And the biggest one, no AWD or 4WD on MT and MT being stripped of features.
Originally Posted by Guderian View Post
16. I got down on my knees and peered under the vehicle and found everything tucked away very neatly with plastic skid plates all around. But plastic. The front plastic sump/engine guard was already badly scraped. And the plastic scrape remains looked ugly.
I wanted to see that picture.

And at the high position I had slotted the driver's seat in, my left hand just couldn't find a comfortable position on the centre arm rest. This proved for me - a negative. To my mind this would be a big contributing factor for driver fatigue on long distance runs. At least for a guy of my size who has no place to rest his hands/elbows.
These cross overs don't have a dedicated arm rest as well. A Safari or Scorpio has dedicated armrest, but in something like my Yeti, you don't have.

9. To my eye the Santa Fe has very little road presence as compared to the ruffian of the roads.
Soft & too many design elements.

10. There was quite a bit of sound in the cabin during the run on the highway. Wasn't sure what it was - but given the fact that the engine was a refined one - it could only mean that it was the unduly high tyre hum ?
Apart from tires, I think, this is a trait of monocoque SUV's. Experienced it in the Yeti, Captiva & CR-V.

11. The vehicle that I tested had done just about 2.5K KMs but already needed to head for a serious session of wheel alignment. It was pulling quite a bit to the left. I know that it was a test mule and guys from various mags and what have you would have whipped it hard. But then does it speak about its underpinning/s unable to handle much abuse ?
General, GTO has summed up. It isn't meant to be drive with abandon, rather with care, to the odd speed breakers, pot holes & humps.
(Why buy a SUV then)?

Would like to see a comparison of your Fortuner vs a Pajero Sport
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Old 4th March 2014, 15:35   #15
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Default Re: Hyundai Santa Fe : Official Review

Great Review
Was curious to understand how this vehicle stacks up against the Fortuner and your review has answered all the questions and more...

It appears to me that Hyundai is not taking the Ground Clearance Issues in Indian Conditions seriously. This has been a known problem on the Fluidic Verna as well and by SUV levels, 185 mm is very less GC.

While a low GC ensures higher stability, they ought to come up with ways to ensure their vehicles are driveable/maintainable on Indian Road Conditions.
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