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Face-lifted Hyundai Santa Fe driven

2010-10-19 14:25

MORE THAN A PRETTY FACE: Hyundai Sante Fe's facelift includes an updated powertrain.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Hyundai
Model Santa Fe
Engine 2.2-litre four-cylinder 16-valve turbodiesel
Power 145kW @ 3800r/min
Torque 436Nm @ 1800 - 2500r/min
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Zero To Hundred 10.2 seconds
Top Speed 190km/h
Fuel Tank 70
Fuel Consumption 8.3 litres per 100km
Weight 2570kg
Boot Size up to 2247 litres
Steering Rack and pinion with hydraulic power assistance
ABS with EDS, ESP and active yaw control
Airbags front, side and curtain
Tyres 235/60 R18
Front Suspension McPherson struts with coil springs and anti roll bar
Rear Suspension Multi Link with coil springs and anti roll bar
Service Intervals 15 000 km
Service Plan 5 year / 90 000 km

Hailey Philander

The facelift of Hyundai’s full sized Santa Fe should not be discounted as a mere cosmetic exercise – the SUV has been given significant updates to its powertrainn with a new engine and gearbox.

Hyundai’s full-sized SUV has had a dramatic facelift before the all-new model is rolled out in 2012 – and its price has taken a dive, too. Of course, we have favourable exchange rates to thank for that…

The changes are numerous, though. For starters, the SUV’s appearance has changed, with its new front and rear bumpers, fresh grille, light clusters and new 18" wheels. Bump strips on the doors are now colour-coded and the larger external mirrors bear turn indicator repeaters.

There are numerous changes in the cabin, in line with the wave of new Hyundai models.

The centre console and facia have carbon-like finishes, a six-disc front-loading CD player (with plugs for USB and MP3, but still no RDS), a new instrument panel with blue backlighting. The driver’s window gets a power safety function, basically an anti-trap feature that sends the window charging back down if it detects something blocking its ascent.

The clever rear parking camera’s images are transposed to the interior rear-view mirror, an arrangement we've previously found extremely handy, as is the proximity key that merely needs to be within a metre of the car to allow the driver and passengers to open doors and the tail door.

And for those that suffer allergies, particularly at this time of the year, a cluster ioniser keeps the air quality in the cabin squeaky clean via the air conditioning system. The centre armrest doubles up as a fridge .

HEADS UP: The camera images are transposed onto the rearview mirror, making reversing manouvres in the big Santa Fe a treat.

On or off road

When it comes to performance, though, Hyundai’s slick new DOHC turbodiesel is anything but gooey. Power from the four-cylinder, quad-valve, 2.2-litre turbodiesel is up significantly from 110 to 145kW at 6000rpm while torque has increased from 335 to a beefy 436Nm from 1800-2500rpm.

The previous Santa Fe’s five-speed gearbox has been traded-in for a new six-speed auto with sport mode for manual shifts.

Top speed is a capable 190km/h. The SUV is said to consume about 8.3 litres/100km and produce 220g/km of CO2.

Regrettably, all R2.2 GLS models consume only low-sulphur diesel and customers sign a waiver as acknowledgement. More fuel stations may be making the 50ppm available but this rollout may not be quick enough for some…

Towing abilities were not put to the test, although Hyundai claims a braked towing capacity of two tonnes for the Santa Fe.

GREY AND BLUE: The chromed stack with blue backlighting adds a splash of colour to the cabin.

The SUV’s glasshouse is huge, which makes for great all round visibility, particularly given the Santa Fe’s width in tight confines. However, here the rear park distance control with the pop-up video image in the rear-view mirror is a boon, too.

On our short drive from Irene, south of Pretoria, to our base at the close to the Hartebeespoort Dam and back again, the Santa Fe’s on-road behaviour seemed in keeping with modern SUV's. Its steering was nice and light and, with the new engine, had more than enough power to tackle typically daunting overtaking manoeuvres.

The cabin was sufficiently comfortable, although we would have appreciated a greater degree of travel of the electrically adjustable driver's seat. The new cabin layout is pleasant, though, and makes it easy to keep your eye (and mind) on the road.


This Santa Fe has electronic full-time all-wheel that makes it a tootle on a range of terrain. The launch route took us on a mix of road surfaces, including gravel, on which the vehicle seemed very much in its element. A few punches to the right of the steering wheel to disengage the traction control and split the drive 50/50 to each axle saw us taking on a few hillocks and ruts and a couple of sand tracks – all of which the Santa Fe took in its stride.

SURPRISE!: New rear light cluster is just one of a host of cosmetic changes to the Santa Fe.

Occupant safety features high on Santa Fe’s equipment list and comes standard with ABS with EBD, ESP and brake assist, six airbags and active head restraints. It’s also reassuring to know that, should you slash a tyre on a pothole or a rock, a full-size spare wheel is part of the package.

Space is never an issue. While the seven-seater makes for a happy wagon, the five-seater has loads of space, including an underfloor storage area with waterproof compartments. With all seats flung down, the luggage space is 2247litres, while the spare wheel attaches to the vehicle’s underside.

Hyundai SA’s marketing manager Stanley Anderson acknowledged that the absence of Bluetooth and RDS for radios was a big concern for local customers and would be taken up with colleagues in South Korea.

Sante Fe units come with a five-year or 90 000km service plan and a five-year or 150 000km roadside assistance programme (shared with the entire Hyundai SA line-up). A five-year or 100 000km maintenance plan costs R14 000.


R2.2 GLS a/t five-seater AWD – R399 900
R2.2 GLS a/t seven-seater AWD – R409 900


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