Hyundai Santa Fe test drive


Hyundai Motors India Limited {HMIL} are well known for been a Korean brand which has established base in India and are currently leading in the small car market. They are second only to Maruti Suzuki India limited. Hyundai Motors India Limited {HMIL}  have a good presence in all the market segments except for the upper luxury segment and the SUV segment. Now, the former would take some time in coming however HMIL are more interested in the SUV segment as of now. As of now, their negligible presence in the SUV segment with the Hyundai Tucson and the Terracan is bothering them. To remedy this, they have introduced the Hyundai Santa Fe in India. Now, we as automobile journalists knew that the Hyundai Santa Fe was long in the coming to Indian soil and were eagerly waiting to get our hands on it. I had the privilege of driving a Hyundai Santa Fe on Indian soil for about 430 kilometers and the following is a complete account of what happened on road. Let’s have a look at Hyundai Santa Fe specifications:


If this SUV was launched probably 3-4 years back, it would have toppled the SUV segment cart. It looks can now best be described as at par with the segment. Nothing ground breaking as of such. The reason why I am telling this is because we have been spoilt with the Hyundai iX35 crossover’s looks. Now, as they say, “you cannot satisfy every one” stands true with automobile journalists. Hyundai’s global fluidic “design concept” is apparent from the grille of the Hyundai Santa Fe. The grille has horizontal flaps and looks like those from a regular home air conditioner. It is actually a part of the design theme from Hyundai Motors India Limited to give all its cars a family look. Hyundai Motors India Limited’s other cars like the Verna Transform, I10, I20 as well as Sonata sport this look. Exception is that of the Accent, which is actually a decade old design and in its last phase now.

The fog lamps are placed in their own small compartments with blacked out inserts. The air dam is crossed by a horizontal black slat. Overall, viewed from the front, the Hyundai Santa Fe looks big but well rounded off package. The narrow head lamps which have Bi-Xenon projector lights are also housed in blacked out frames. The outside rear view mirrors have the turn indicators embedded into them at the lower base.

Viewed from the sides, the Hyundai Santa Fe looks the part for its 4660 mm wheel base. The door handles are of the tug types. The 16 inch alloy wheels with the multi spoke design also look good and while doing this, they also fill the flared wheel arches well. The roof rails are standard and body colored as well.

Moving onto the rear shows some of the iX35’s design elements. The tail lamps are boomerang shaped but in a horizontal manner. They are split by the heavy looking tail gate. There aren’t LEDs but just the normal lamps with clear lens surrounding them. The roof mounted spoiler also houses the stop lamp. The rear reflectors are mounted on the body colored bumpers. A unique feature of the Hyundai Santa Fe is that it has a large lever to lift its tailgate. This feature is quite convenient as well. The twin tail pipes are chrome tipped and look quite snorty.


Climbing{ for people shorter than 5 feet 8 inches} into the interiors, you would find the Hyundai Santa Fe’s interiors to be luxurious enough for this segment. Especially when compared to its competition, the Toyota Fortuner. However considering the newer Hyundai’s in the pipe line, this one certainly disappoints. That saying, the car does have good quality interiors and it is just that I expected it to be more radical. There is plenty of  beige and faux wood used in the interior design. The hooded binnacle houses three circular dials comprising of the speedometer, revometer and the fuel gauge. There are also many tell tale lights inside.

The steering wheel is chunky and has many of the functions in it like the audio controls, Bluetooth as well as cruise control. It also looks and feels good. The entire dash is lit in a soft blue color much like the I20’s. The entire dash in angled towards the driver, showing its driver centric nature. There is an all row automatic climate control system along with a 6 CD changer system and a small clock on top of it. The audio quality was excellent since there are about 8 speakers surrounding the system. The short and stubby gear lever seems derived from that of the Hyundai I20 or otherwise. The seats are made of a slightly firmer material but there was no discomfort observed even on the long drive that I took. My seat was 10 way powered and even the one having our lens man Ismail was powered with memory functions. The steering column is adjustable for rake and reach and finding a good driving position isn’t a problem.

There are plenty of cubby holes in and around the cabin. There is a huge glove box in the sculpted dash. There is also an  USB as well as Aux input for the audio system, not to mention about 3 12V power socket. The multi information display on the dash also gives a plethora of information like outside temperature, tire pressure monitor, distance to empty, trip meter, gear shift indicators and current fuel economy. I felt pampered with the arm rest provided and on the long drive it proved to be a boon for my left hand. The air conditioning was also spot on and the vertical slats can be individually opened or closed. Actually speaking writing about the Hyundai Santa Fe’s extensive features list would take about 2 full pages. I could actually only fit in some of the those aforementioned into this article.

The rear passengers are also pampered no end. They have their own individual AC vents and controls. There is enough room for three at the second row of seats. Even these are quite comfortable. They feature a 60:40 split arrangement. The third row is also sort of comfortable for those south of 5 feet 4 inches. The access to it is tricky though and you would have to slip the second row of seats and then get into the last row. However even the last row of passengers have two AC vents keeping them cool. The boot space is also quite big for a 7 seater. It is 380 liters with the second row of seats up and about 1003 liters with the second row of seats flipped down. The loading lip is also quite low and lined with some soft material so that there are no scratches happening while loading heavy objects.

Handling and ride quality

The Hyundai Santa Fe would mostly be chauffer driven given its proportions, so ride quality is of prime importance. The heavily bolstered rear as well as front seats cushion you from most of the road irregularities. The front suspension does it job quite silently whereas the rear is a bit of soft one and self levelling one sensitive to weight changes. The Hyundai Santa Fe also handled the off-roads that I took it to and didn’t show any signs of fatigue or reluctance on those non-existent roads. Seems that the Toyota Fortuner has finally met its nemesis.

Going fast or around a corner wouldn’t make you spill your morning cuppa or cold drink in the beige colored cabin. Body roll is well controlled with the traditional McPherson at the front and multi-link one with anti-roll bars at the rear end. Its on demand 4 wheel drive system detects wheel slippage and accordingly increases or decreases power to that particular wheel. This is one fast SUV which is quite stable even at speeds in excess of 140 kmph.There is no engine or wind noise inside the cabin and that speaks volumes about the amount of sound deadening materials used under the hood as well as in the cabin. Good glass area aligned with auto dimming rear view mirror and parking sensors make parking chores as easy as they can be for such a big SUV.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

The Hyundai Santa Fe in India is available only with 1 engine option. Hyundai Motors India Limited were right in thinking that buyers in this segment wouldn’t require a petrol motor and so they offered the best diesel engine they could offer in this segment. The 2199 cc diesel engine is an in-line 4 cylinder with variable geometry turbo and a 4 valve head CRDi unit. Maximum power available is 194 Bhp @ 3,800 rpm whereas peak torque is 420 Nm @ 2,200 rpm. Internationally, the Hyundai Santa Fe is available with a choice of 3 diesel engines with the same 2.2 liter capacity however in India, they are offering the most powerful trim. This speaks volumes about Hyundai Motors India Limited’s commitment to the Indian market.

Coupled with this stonker of an engine is the 6 speed manual tranmission which is easy to operate and the gears shift into the gate with a positive feel. The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the fastest SUV in its class with a 0-100 dash in 9.8 seconds flat. This is coming from a SUV weighing in at a porky 1997 kgs. The steering wheel though is a bit plasticky in its feel. It doesn’t have the directness of say, the Honda CR-V however it still dials in some feel. Some amount of turbo lag is experienced however that is only below 1,700 rpm. The maximum speed I could race this beast was 163 kmph and the claimed top speed from Hyundai Motors India Limited was approximately 188 kmph. I have no qualms about this claim since the car was all the more eager to go past everything in its path with the tractable motor even revving freely till its 5,400 rpm redline.

Hauling this heavy SUV to a complete stop from those speeds is a combination of ventilated discs at the front and solid ones at the rear. Assisting them in this retardation duties was 4 channel advanced ABS, traction control, EBD and ESP. Modulation from the brake lever was also quite positive. Across the world, the Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the safest vehicle in its class. In the Indian market, Hyundai Motors India Limited have introduced a segment first, 10 safety air bags, collapsible steering column, 3 point ELR seat belts, roll-over sensor and tensile steel beams.

Fuel efficiency is all so critical in the Indian market and the Hyundai Santa Fe doesn’t disappoint on this count as well. Considering all the performance on tap, the SUV gave me 11.8 kmpl in the city and 15.3 kmpl on the highway jaunt. Couple that to a 70 liters fuel tank and you get close to 948 kms before a refill.


Hyundai Motors India Limited finally seems to have the right spot for their SUV dreams in the Indian market with their new Santa Fe SUV. Its looks are at par with the competition, it has a blow fuse of a diesel engine with performance and the fuel efficiency needed, spacious interiors, good ride and handling package as well as spacious interiors with extensive features list. Its minus points are that it is a CBU sourced from South Korea and is priced slightly higher than others in its class and also Hyundai vehicles lack image at this price point. But if you are looking in the market for a seven seater with all the aforementioned qualities, the Hyundai Santa Fe should be perfect for you. It is available in two variants and the difference between the variants is two and four wheel drive. The Hyundai Santa Fe (4×4) is available for Rs.25 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi} and the Hyundai Santa Fe (4×2) is priced at Rs.23 lakhs {Ex-showroom, Delhi}.

Technical specifications of the Hyundai Santa Fe for India

  • Engine: 2199cc, in-line 4, variable geometry turbo, 4 valve head CRDi unit
  • Max Power: 194 Bhp @ 3800 rpm
  • Max Torque: 420 Nm  @ 2,200 rpm
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
  • Brakes: Ventilated Discs at front and Solid Discs at the rear
  • Suspension: Front – Macpherson Struts & Rear- multi-link type with anti-roll bars
  • Tyre Size: 236/60 R16 Tubeless alloys
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 Litres
  • Length: 4670 mm
  • Width: 1880 mm
  • Height: 1770 mm
  • Wheel base: 2710 mm
  • Ground Clearance: 201 mm
  • Front row Headroom: 40.3 in
  • Front row Hiproom : 55.6 in
  • Front row Legroom : 43.5 in
  • Front row Shoulder room : 59.3 in
  • Second row Headroom : 39.4 in
  • Second row Hiproom : 55.1 in
  • Second row Legroom : 36.8 in
  • Second row Shoulder room : 58.7 in
  • Seating: 7
  • Kerb weight : 1997  kgs

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