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Hyundai Santa Fe 2010 Road Test

Sun, 15 Nov 2009

The 2006 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 diesel auto was always a good 4x4. Especially good to drive quickly on rough tracks. For 2010 it’s gone through some mid-life changes.

You can’t get the petrol V6 any more. Power of the 2.2 diesel is up, from 154bhp to 194bhp. Yet economy is also up, and emissions are down, all well under 200g/km. The manual is in VED Band I, and the auto in Band J.

Instead of 5 gears you now get six, whether you go for the manual or the automatic, and that will bridge the gap of the old 5-speed manual between 2nd and 3rd. Yet prices are down, starting at just £21,495 for the 5-seater manual in Style trim, and rising no higher than £25,495 for the 7-seater Premium 6-speed automatic.

The 2.2 engine is now chain cam and up in capacity slightly to 2,199cc. Torque is a stonking 422Nm at 422Nm from 1,800 to 2,500rpm. And the automatic gets even more. A frankly astonishing 436Nm, and all this from just 2,199cc. Amazing. The latest Toyota Landcruiser LC develops nothing like this from an engine 800cc bigger.

I remember the original Santa Fe in this body as being less than great on the road, but absolutely stunning on rough dirt tracks where it would romp along at 70mph as if they were race circuit smooth asphalt. This one, on its 245/60 R18 tyres was totally unruffled on the roads.

I’m a bit circumspect hustling something as tall as this round bends but discovered I had nothing to worry about at all. It just went round. I guess the boys at Autocar would push it further until they found the limits, then compare it to an X5 or something, but I was simply happy enough with what it would do. It isn’t a sportscar and I wouldn’t drive it like one.

But it is a very pleasant thing to drive. The 6-speed box slurs its changes and keeps the revs quite high until everything is warmed up. Then the dash shows a little green ‘ECO’ light when you’re behaving yourself and anyway there’s little need to venture beyond 2,000rpm because that gets you 70 in 6th.

Cruise control is on the steering wheel and the buttons are shaped like Braille so you can switch between its various functions without having to look. It’s actually very good cruise control, easy to operate first time out, easy to over-ride and ideal for those endless 50 limits on the M1 these days.

As before, you get 7 seats and the load deck is a doddle to rearrange. The rearmost seats simply pull out of the floor in one simple cantilever movement. The centre seats flop down 35/65 in one go, using a similar cantilever mechanism. And the nearside single seat double folds with a catch at back and side to let the nippers out of the rearmost seats. These don’t have the legroom or toe-room of a Mercedes GL, LandRover Discovery or even a Chevrolet Captiva. But they are on a par with a Volvo XC70, an Audi Q7 or a Nissan Pathfinder.

The Premium version I was driving came with very sturdy feeling leather seats, heated in the front, electric folding mirrors and lots of convenient places to put things in the sensibly designed console between the front seats. There are USB/Ipod dockets, an Aux socket, power sockets front and rear (as well as a fag lighter).

For off roading you can switch off the ESP and switch on a centre diff lock. The 6-speed manual will haul a 2,500kg caravan, and even the auto is rated to tug 2,000kg. You can tell the new car from the old by its revised (unaggressive) grille, new clear headlight clusters, new front and rear bumpers, different alloy wheels, and new big fat dual exhaust tailpipes.

I suppose as someone who has virtually given up and merely drives a FIAT 500, the most telling discovery was how well I got on with this comparative monster of a car. It’s light and easy to drive, very easy to get on with, and doesn’t irritate in any way.

Even though the new Santa Fe is totally inappropriate for my needs, I could get on with it fine. And that’s not something I could say about any other large SUV in near, mid or distant memory.

For prices, availability, specifications, powertrain details, dimensions, and performance figures please click the tabs.

More at www.hyundai.co.uk

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