Hyundai Santa Fe

TESTED 2.7.18, Spain ON SALE Now PRICE £40,795

Fourth-generation version is bigger, plusher and better to drive

Interior is roomier than before but the infotainment is a let-down

The SUV market is getting bigger, as you’ve probably heard. But it’s literally growing here: the new Hyundai Santa Fe, the brand’s biggest SUV, is 70mm longer in its latest, fourth generation.

It’s got a new look, in line with the smaller Kona, and a new chassis, which, despite the car being bigger than the old model, is lighter and stronger than before.

It’s available in 2.2-litre diesel flavour only in the UK and the automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive will be the bestselling set-up over here. Seven-seaters are all we’ll get in the UK too.

This Santa Fe doesn’t feel as big as it looks – or is. It’s not far off as long and wide as a Range Rover Sport, but it feels agile for the class.

The steering is direct and blessed with an impressive amount of feel. There’s no point-and-guess that you get with many wallowy seven-seaters. You can’t escape the Santa Fe’s body roll, but it’s controlled and gradual rather than clumsy, defying the large SUV standard of not being particularly fun to drive.

At motorway speeds, there’s little complaint from the suspension. It’s more settled over what bumps we found on our Spanish test route than the Skoda Kodiaq, but a UK drive would give it a harder workout. Wind noise is the biggest audible flaw but, even then, there’s not an upsetting amount.

Some interior trim is a little more faux luxury than genuine plushness, a trade-off for a decent level of practicality. Even the rearmost seats are suitable for adults, who’ll complain only on longer journeys.

The floating infotainment unit atop the dashboard is the interior’s biggest flaw. It’s frustratingly unintuitive to use at times and the graphics feel fairly dated, especially for a £40,000 car, as tested.

And that’s where it stumbles a little – a class based on value and metal-for-money demands perhaps a better starting price than £33,425. The Nissan X-Trail, for instance, starts at just over £28,000. For comparison, the top-spec Skoda Kodiaq is £37,450.

Price aside, the Santa Fe isn’t inconsiderable in its talents. Although not the last word in driver appeal, it’s more fun to drive than others in the class would have you think.

JIMI BECKWITH

 

HYUNDAI SANTE FE 2.2 CRDi PREMIUM 4WD
Challenges class leaders on driver appeal and now has a more luxurious interior and abundant space to boot

Price  £40,795
Engine  4 cyls, 1997cc, diesel
Power  197bhp at 3800rpm
Torque 325lb ft at 1750rpm
Gearbox 8-spd automatic
Kerb weight 1895kg
0-62mph 9.4sec
Top speed 127mph
Economy 47.1mpg
CO2, tax band 164g/km, 37%
Rivals Kia Sorento, Nissan X-Trail, Skoda Kodiaq