Hyundai Santa Fe Test Drive Review
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Car tested: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe 4WD

Price OTR Mumbai: 29,44,276/-

Hyundai, the manufacturer synonymous for value for money cars recently entered the competitive SUV segment with the Santa Fe. Named after the city of Santa Fe in New Mexico, Santa Fe made its global debut in the year 1999 and is now in its second generation. Hyundai India received overwhelming response for the Santa Fe with 535 bookings in just two weeks which led  Hyundai to the close the bookings. Surely, that makes the Hyundai Santa Fe as popular as the Toyota Fortuner at launch but does the Santa Fe have what it takes to rule the urban jungle?


Exteriors – Taking cues from Hyundai’s new design language, the Santa Fe’s exterior features a body coloured front grille, rugged bumper design, roof rails, chrome accent door handles, twin exhausts, rear spoiler with high mounted stop lamp, high contrast rear combination lamps, heated outside mirrors with side repeaters and 18-inch alloy wheels, the largest in class. This makes the Hyundai Santa Fe a handsome looking SUV with a good overall design. Its not to aggressive and not to muscular either, making it a good blend between a outright off-roader and a city soft-roader.


Interiors – The Hyundai Santa Fe is said to be one of the most package-efficient SUVs in the market. The interiors feature an array of luxurious features and textures including leather upholstery to give the car an elegant feel and look. The blue instrument lighting is common to most Hyundai vehicles now and the instrument cluster provides vital vehicle information including the current gear, kms traveled, distance to empty, etc.


The dual-zone climate controls for the driver and front seat passenger work effectively in cooling the cabin, second and third row passengers will be left wanting for more thanks to B-pillar-mounted adjustable vents, dual rear heating ducts and third row independent blower controls which are poorly positioned. The Santa Fe offers seven-passenger seating with the third row seat is split 50/50 and can be folded flat. The second row is 60/40-split. Total cargo space is generous with plenty of storage for items of different sizes with the seats down. However with the seats up, third row is best left to children.


Other features for the driver include driver’s side power window with anti-pinch system, steering wheel mounted audio control, leather wrapped gear knob, 10-way power adjust driver’s seat with lumbar support, electrically foldable outside mirrors and cruise control and organ type accelerator pedal. The In-Dash 6 CD changer Audio system includes USB/ipod/AUX connectivity for unlimited music access. The Hyundai Santa Fe also features In-car cooler, cluster ionizer –an in-built system to improve air quality, multifunction sunvisors etc. The Santa Fe boasts of ingeniously created storage spaces such as front cup-holders with grip, utility tray in front central armrest, front door map pocket with bottle holder, dual sunglass holder, storage box with lid for third row, front seat back pockets, central arm rest with adjustable cup holders in the second row.


On the Move – The Santa Fe has been awarded a Five Star safety rating by NCAP (New Car Assessment Program). It comes with a host of safety features including ESP (Electronic Stability Program), EBD (Electronic Brake-force Distribution), ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) and TCS (Traction Control System). It also is one of the few vehicles to have six standard airbags including side and curtain Airbags for all three rows of available seating. The roll-over sensor monitor vehicular angle and can predict a rollover. The front-seat active head restraints help prevent whiplash by automatically reducing the space between a front occupant’s head and the head restraint during a rear collision. The silica tyres feature a silica-based rubber compound that provides better grip on wet surfaces and reduced rolling resistance for improved fuel efficiency, which can be anything between 7-10kmpl (14.66 kmpl ARAI certified) depending on your driving style.


Ride, Handling and Braking – The Santa Fe weighs in over two tons which can degrade handling quite a bit but the Santa Fe is sharp and does not feel all that bulky. However the Santa Fe goes crazy under heavy acceleration with the traction control switched off. Accelerate hard and the steering wheel will take directions of its own without your intent to point it that way. Ride quality is good but on potholed filled roads, it can be quite jarring. The firm suspension does filter in some vibrations and the low profile won’t help one bit. Braking is very sharp and the Santa Fe stops right in its track any given time and speed.


Performance – The Santa Fe is powered by a 2.2L CRDi engine that delivers a maximum power of 197PS at 4000 rpm and 42.9 kgm of torque at 1800~2500rpm. Mated to a six speed manual transmission, with an option of 2WD and 4WD, the Santa Fe is one hoot to drive. Any gear, any speed, step on the gas and once the turbo spools up the Santa Fe moves forward with such urgency that you have to stop and check if your head is in place. The torque rush is addictive and the Santa Fe reaches 100 in just 9.4 seconds and on to a top speed in excess of 180kmph. Reaching 150kmph takes no time at all and if we have an award for the best diesel engine for power in the country, the Santa Fe would take it hands down.


The Santa Fe has very little turbo lag, a rare phenomenon in big diesel engines. The gear shift is smooth but little rigid at times. We reckon that gearbox will loosen up after sometime. The clutch is insanely heavy and the driver is bound to feel his left leg being over worked after a long drive. Even though the Santa Fe has big dimensions, with such a powerful motor at its behest, overtaking in traffic is a breeze. You just need to aim and shoot cautiously, because the Santa Fe has so much power it spins the wheels so crazily that even a car noob would sit up and take notice.


Conclusion – The Santa Fe is a very good alternative to the Fortuner. It has good presence, bucket loads of stowage and safety features. It drives well and offers an insane driving experience to people who like driving, thanks to the monstrous torque. It does have its shortcomings like high price (CBU), heavy clutch and expensive spares. But with most owners opting for a chauffeur, the Santa Fe makes perfect sense for people who like to take the road less traveled on the weekend. A CKD operation with a automatic transmission will help boost sales, but Hyundai is already capacity crunched with the Santa Fe globally, making the Santa Fe very unique on the roads.


Whats Cool

* Looks
* Features
* Engine
* Brakes

Whats Not So Cool

* Price
* Third row seats
* Insane torque steer


Hyundai Santa Fe Specifications : –

* Engine: 2199cc, DOHC
* Power: 197PS @ 3800rpm
* Torque: 421Nm @ 1800-2500rpm
* Transmission: 6 speed manual
* Top Speed: 180kmph
* 0-100kmph: 9.40 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 7-8 kmpl (City), 9-10 kmpl (highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Mcpherson Strut Type (Front), Multi Link type (Rear)
* Tires: 235/60/18 Tubeless Radials
* Safety: ABS, EBD, Six Airbags, ESP, TCS, Engine Immobilizer

Hyundai Santa Fe Dimensions : –

* Overall length x width x height: 4660 mm X 1890 mm X 1760 mm
* Wheelbase: 2700 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1615/1620 mm
* Ground clearance: 200 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres
*Kerb Weight: 1987 kgs