Hyundai Santa Fe - long-term test

Hyundai Santa Fe long-term test - Erin Baker
A young family will test the seven-seat Santa Fe's attributes Credit: Rii Schroer

The Hyundai Santa Fe in seven-seat form should make it the ideal SUV for a large family? Erin Baker is testing a diesel version to find out 

Our car: 2.2 CRDi Premium SE List price when new: £39,040 Price as tested: £39,730 Official fuel economy: 42.8mpg (EU Combined)

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March 29th, 2017

Economy this week: 33mpg

The Santa Fe provides the perfect example of where a road tester's opinion might differ from an owner's. Take the Hyundai SUV's suspension. A road tester is never going to give this set-up five stars: it's soft, there's quite a lot of lateral roll (more so than that of its competitors, and that's allowing for the greater wheel travel of an SUV), and it leads to fairly indirect handling versus that of, say, a BMW X5.

But then, no road tester is the presumed end user: a family of adults, the young and the old. And my family loves the ride of this car. It's Tigger-ish, riding joyfully down the road on its springs, gathering itself, collecting the rebound through forgiving dampers, and while that might not make for a decent ride and handling by petrolhead standards, it's a decent ride for your normal passenger.

It's compliant enough for a normal motorist not to notice anything amiss and, actually, I'd choose this chassis over that of the new 48v architecture that the Bentley Bentayga and Audi SQ7 sit on, with its almost complete absence of lateral roll, which made me feel car sick.

So there you have it. Words I thought I'd never utter: I'd choose a Santa Fe over a Bentayga.

March 22nd, 2017

Economy this week: 32mpg

I've done two tanks from empty to brimmed and we're holding fast at 32mpg on a mixture of urban and motorway driving, so we'll leave the fuel consumption there and move on to more interesting things.

Like the santnav. Hyundai's satnav proves that not all progress is a good thing. For it's a pretty old-looking affair - the graphics aren't that snazzy, the screen isn't a touchscreen and it's not that large.

But simplicity is key to its success. You use a knob to zoom in and out which is actually more effective than trying to swipe the screen while the car is moving; the mute function for the voice guidance isn't hidden; the ability to type in a postcode is obvious, instead of hunting through three different settings, and it doesn't insist on splitting the screen with pointless information on upcoming junctions when you haven't even entered a route (I know on other systems, you can turn that function off, but boy does it take some searching and scratching around in the deep recesses of the system sometimes).

So we're warming to the Santa Fe. I'm not sure it's warming to us - we're now several layers of mud and squashed crisps deep - after merely a month of ownership, we're going to have to get it valeted by an industrial facility shortly.  

March 13th, 2017

Economy this week: 32.1mpg

Regarding my observation about the unimpressive fuel consumption of the Santa Fe, someone from Hyundai has been in touch to suggest that I may have had the car's computer on a rolling mpg calculation, which means since the day it rolled off the production line - hence why it's steadily getting better now it has 2,000 miles on the clock.

So I have brimmed the tank, and started again, properly this time, and we'll see.

Meanwhile, this is a very lyrical car, so if tunes aren't your thing when the car does stuff, you might want to think again. For example, when you get in and push the engine start button, it plays a little tune, and does the same when you switch off at the end of your journey. Personally, I like it. It also bongs three times before the electrically powered tailgate opens and shuts.

Already we have completely wrecked the interior: four boys in the two rows of rear seats plus rugby kit plus rain and mud equals an awful lot of mess. Luckily the black leather and plastics are pretty wipe-clean and hard-wearing.

I can confirm that the boot also takes three kids' bikes (one with stabilisers) with the third row collapsed.

March 1st, 2017

We took delivery of our new Hyundai Santa Fe long-term test SUV two weeks ago. It's the 2.2-litre diesel version with a six-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive, and the optional seven-seat layout (we are four boys and two adults). 

The quoted performance figures are acceptable for a seven-seat family car: 198bhp at 3,800rpm and, the more relevant figure for an SUV, 325lb ft of torque at only 1,750rpm. It does 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds and has a top speed of 126mph.

What's not acceptable at the moment is the fuel consumption figure. Hyundai quotes 42.8mpg on the EU Combined cycle, yet just after taking delivery I couldn't get it above 29mpg on a long motorway journey with a light and steady right foot. While I wouldn't be expecting to touch the quoted figure, neither would I expect much under 35mpg from a 2.2-litre diesel. 

But the engine only has about 1,000 miles on the clock, so I've been biding my time, and it is slowly, ever so slowly, but steadily starting to improve. At the end of the first week, we achieved 30mpg, and this week we've reached the dizzying heights of an average 31.1mpg. I'm sure you can't wait for next week's instalment; the suspense is killing me.

It's a good-looking beast, the Santa Fe; a better bet than the next SUV down in Hyundai the range, the Tucson, in my mind. It is, of course, the sister car of the Kia Sorento. In Britain, Kia outperforms Hyundai, but that's an anomaly globally, where Hyundai is the bigger seller. Either way, while the design differs between the two brands across their models, the substance is largely the same.

We'll see what little anomalies the Santa Fe throws up over the next few months but, given Hyundai/Kia's formidable reputation for reliability, I'd be very surprised if much went wrong. I've done it now, of course - I'll probably be filing from a garage next week.


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