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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

February 25, 2014 12:03 IST

Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Arup Das

Every time a new crossover is launched the eternal debate begins all over again - “Why not simply go for an old-school SUV rather than a modern clone?”

But if you need to ask this question then it simply means you don’t understand the purpose that the crossover serves.

And this is where Hyundai’s flagship Santa Fe comes in. It tells us what a crossover is all about.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai
Tags: Hyundai , SUV

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Glistening under the sun and patiently waiting for me to finish my breakfast of champions, the Santa Fe was a sight to watch.

The first thing I noticed was that the crossover, in the manner of Kareena Kapoor, had successfully lost its bulging curves and now looked fit and agile.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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With the company’s Fluidic design DNA now injected into the Santa Fe, Hyundai had managed to balance its youthful freshness with a boldness that was clearly epitomised by its new hexagonal front chrome grille.

The edgy yet swept-back front headlamps with LED positioning lights added to its distinct looks. I am sure it will appeal to both women and men.

I also saw it came with cornering fog lamps, which means enhanced visibility, especially in foggy or rainy conditions.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Now, the Santa Fe does not come across as an imposing monster like the Toyota Fortuner but I wasn’t fooled by first impressions.

The cabin is a living room with more than enough space for everyone to sit, stretch or relax.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Hyundai’s brown-beige interiors may initially seem odd but in time you realise that this colour combination makes the cabin space feel roomier.

The South Korean car maker is reputed for giving its vehicles rich, contemporary interiors and I must say I was impressed.

It is fully loaded with all the features one would put on a wish list, though I did find the touch screen on the centre console rather small.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai
Tags: Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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It looked like it was a last minute face-saving idea but it did prove very responsive.

Now don’t get me wrong, but the secret is that most SUVs in this segment are based on a pickup truck platform.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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This compromises space in the third row. To my surprise, the Santa Fe offered sufficient knee room there, and the seats are big and comfortable.

The only glitch here is that the second row seats don’t fold up completely so you have to slide them - which translates into limited entry space to the last bench.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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I couldn’t wait to take the car out for a drive across Kerala’s rough waters. I pressed the start-stop ignition button and the 2.2-litre diesel engine came alive without demur.

The barely audible clatter died out within a couple of seconds, and I slotted the automatic gear stick to D mode and we set off to Athirapilli.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Snaking my way out of Kochi, I never heard the gear making a noise when changing.

Honestly, this six-speed transmission is so smooth that it is easily the best that has emerged from the workshops of Hyundai India.

The dynamics of this vehicle is superb. The true magic was revealed once I hit the twisted hill roads with no pesky traffic around, just lush green forests for a soothing background.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Taking the liberty of these conditions, I stepped on the gas, expecting a slight power surge.

Guess what, the shifting was right on the dot with nary a hiccup.

Not once did the gearbox embarrass the Santa Fe, and as I ascended the hills, I always found more than enough juice to sprint forward.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Mind you, this is a big vehicle and yet it stayed planted on the road even while negotiating sharp turns.

Yes, there was a slight body roll, but that’s to be expected.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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Even though I thought it intriguing that there was no sports mode in the transmission, shifting to the manual mode lets you press the accelerator to your desire. If one was to be overly critical, then I would say the car should have had paddle-shift.

But no complaints, I always felt like I was the man behind the machine, not one at the mercy of a machine.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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The Santa Fe comes with some nifty features. This should make you at least think of giving the boot to your old-school SUV.

If you want to drive on the wild side or at least do some measured off-roading, then the Hill Start Assist and Downhill Brake Control will keep you in control of the vehicle.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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This savvy crossover also comes with Flex steering, which lets you change the steering weight according to the driving conditions.

So when crawling in slow traffic, cruising on the highway or taking a drive on mountain roads, you can opt for the Comfort, Normal or Sport mode to ensure driving is a blissful chore.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Hyundai Santa Fe: Gorgeous, powerful and loaded with features

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I wrestled with rush-hour traffic, show-boarded in the hills and dipped the Santa Fe’s beautiful 18-inch alloy wheels in the shallows of a river.

This easy-to-drive crossover provides a lot of space, comes with top-of-the-line safety features (six airbags, electronic stability control and many other features) and has one of the best automatic transmission in its segment.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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Unfortunately, what might be a big burden for this car is its price tag. If you cover the badging, it will sell like hot cakes.

But since it takes on the popular Toyota Fortuner as well as luxury brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the likely invoice may deter you from signing on the dotted line.

Santa Fe Automatic 4WD

Engine: 2,199cc

Power: 197PS @ 3,800 rpm   

Torque: 420Nm @ 2,500 rpm

Fuel economy: 13 kmpl (ARAI)

Price: Rs 27.89 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)


Photographs: Courtesy, Hyundai

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