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The jewel in Hyundai’s crown


EVERY single automotive manufacturer has a top-of-the-range model that showcases the core values of the company. Mercedes has the S-class, which is a testament to its knowledge of power, presence and luxury and it’s very much the same story with BMW and the 7 Series.

Hyundai has yet to release even a hint of a competitor to the above mentioned vehicles, but it too has a range-topping model that perfectly captures the essence of this Korean brand. Oddly, the jewel in Hyundai South Africa’s crown is an SUV and it retails for less than R500 000.
This figure reveals that Hyundai is still in the business of making premium, quality products at an affordable price. One can’t, however, ignore the fact that the third-generation Santa Fe you see on this page, is very close to the half-a-bar psychological barrier.

So what’s half-a-million worth of Korean metal like? Well, it certainly looks good; in fact, I think it might be the best looking vehicle in its segment right now. Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design language works equally well in a swollen format.

Underneath that beautiful bulging body it’s almost exactly the same as the second-generation Santa Fe, which is by no means a bad thing. The ride is silky smooth over tarmac and it handles dirt roads with ease. It’s also surprisingly skilful when tackling a bit of light off-roading and proved more than a match for the soft dunes surrounding Paternoster in the Western Cape.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine from the previous Santa Fe has also been carried over. It produces 145kW and a healthy 436Nm of torque and is mated to a slick six-speed automatic. There’s almost zero turbo-lag from the get go, which means this largish SUV can get from 0-100km/h in under 10 seconds if you ever need it to. It’s worth mentioning that this powertrain demands only the finest 50ppm diesel, so if you regularly trek to no man’s land you’re way better off with a Fortuner.

Hyundai has once again been particularly generous on the inside. I’ve always been a fan of its signature blue backlighting and was pleasantly surprised to see it on the Santa Fe as well. The quality of the materials are decidedly premium and in top-of-the range specification you get everything but the kitchen sink and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Santa Fe is available in three derivatives – one front-wheel-drive Premium and two all-wheel-drive (AWD) models. The two AWD models, Executive and Elite, not only offer the added benefit of improved traction, but a host of luxury features that you won’t find as standard on any of its main rivals. In fact, if you specified its German rivals to match the Santa Fe’s standard fare, you’d be spending upwards of R100 000 over and above the list price. As an added bonus, the Executive and Elite both come standard with seven seats.

Hyundai’s Santa Fe may not be a traditional halo model, but it certainly captures the essence of the brand and builds on its already solid reputation for building good cars for people who believe quality, performance and safety (five-star Euro NCAP rating) shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

The new Santa Fe comes with Hyundai’s famous five-year/150 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a five-year/90 000km service contract.


Santa Fe Premium FWD 5-seater R434 900
Santa Fe Executive AWD 7-seater R459 900
Santa Fe Elite AWD 7-seater  R499 900


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