Andre De Kock
Motorsport Editor
4 minute read
25 Apr 2019
8:18 pm

Santa Fe, a classically safer cruiser

Andre De Kock

Make no mistake, it is superbly smooth and its large torque sees it gliding effortlessly in city traffic and on the freeway.

Unfortunate surprises happen to this writer. For instance, I recently heard about a fantastic night club, bar and restaurant in Johannesburg.

There is an admission fee, but it gets paid for you. Then, your meal gets sponsored, as does all the alcohol you choose to consume, somebody will listen attentively to every word you utter and laugh at every one of your weak jokes.

And, at the end of the evening, you are absolutely guaranteed to have sex. I did not discover the place – my younger sister went there and all of the above happened. When I went, things were different. I had to pay for admission, food and drinks.

Nobody laughed at my jokes. When I insisted on sex, they threw me out with a disconcerting amount of violence and told me never to return. A series of unfortunate surprises. I also suffered an unfortunate surprise while testing Hyundai’s fourth-generation Santa Fe R 2.2 Executive automatic.

With cars currently costing the earth, we treat test vehicles with huge respect. Apart from driving them carefully, we pay attention when parking them.

These days, a slight bumper bash or a wayward shopping trolley can do expensive body damage. So, when leaving a top-of-the range Hyundai in The Citizen’s parking lot, I positioned it away from other vehicles, next to a tool shed. Its bloody metal door was blown open by the wind, causing a deep scratch on the rear fender.

This was doubly sad, because most of my experiences with the Santa Fe were good ones. For a start, it is a handsome vehicle – difficult to achieve in the SUV world, where the dictates of efficient people-carrying lead to the same styling conclusions almost every time. But the Santa Fe is imposing, because it is large, with a strong stance, high roofline, massive front grille and roof rails all adding to the picture.

The vehicle is 4 770mm long and 1 890mm wide, sitting on 19- inch alloy wheels in 235/55 R19 rubberware. Propelling the test unit was Hyundai’s tried and proven four-cylinder, 2 199cc CRDI diesel engine, that delivers 142kW of power at 3 800rpm and 440Nm of torque between 1 750rpm and 2 750rpm. It is linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that passes the grunt and twist to the front wheels. The transmission boasts

Eco, Comfort, Smart and Sport drive modes. The brakes are discs all round, aided by a booster, ABS, ESP, downhill brake control and hill start assist control. Other features designed to stop the driver from crumpling the vehicle include blind spot detection, and a Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist system.

When reversing out of areas with low visibility, the system warns you if other vehicles approach, and apply brakes automatically if a collision seems likely. There is also a Lane-Keeping Assist and Blind-Spot Collision Warning systems. Should you still crash, your safety will be enhanced by an enormously strong passenger compartment with advanced crumple zones, plus two front airbags, two side airbags and two curtain airbags from the first to second row of seats.

Inside, the Santa Fe boasts huge leg and head space all round, with its seat layout making it a pukka seven-seater. The luggage capacity is 547 litres behind the second row of seats, and can be extended to 1 625 litres with all the rear seats folded down. Stuff like air-conditioning, leather seats, armrests, headrests, alarm, automatic window demister, windscreen de-icer, rain sensor wipers, rear view camera, central locking, automatic rear door opening and closing, speed-sensitive automatic door locking and keyless entry come standard. A seven-inch infotainment system integrates media and connectivity features. Hyundai’s Display Audio system recognises your voice to activate a seven-inch, high-resolution colour LCD touchscreen.

It connects to smartphones through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, while the Santa Fe comes standard with a USB port and an Aux jack. You can also use the navigation applications of your smartphone, to be displayed on the touch screen. Having said all of that, what was it like to drive? Well, kind of boring, actually.

Make no mistake, it is superbly smooth and its large torque sees it gliding effortlessly in city traffic and on the freeway. The eight-speed transmission is brilliantly smooth, to the point where one does not notice gear changes at all. Hyundai say the vehicle accelerates from rest to 100km/h in under 10 seconds, with a top speed of over 200km/h, and we do not doubt them.

But, it is so refined that one almost feels it is operated by remote control. Sitting behind the wheel, you are far removed and insulated from the vehicle’s mechanical functions. It takes away much from the actual driving experience. What you can feel is the fact that this is a large car. With a gross vehicle mass of 2 485kg, the Santa Fe felt bulky, and leisurely under acceleration. On the other hand, its potential buyers will not be after eye-widening performance, but safe, comfortable and efficient transportation.

That, the Santa Fe will provide. We managed an overall fuel consumption figure of 9.1-litres per 100km during the test. The Hyundai Santa Fe R 2.2 Executive automatic will set you back R659 900. The price includes a seven-year/200 000km warranty, a five-year/90 000km service plan, plus roadside assistance for five years or 150 000km.

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