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Driven: 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid. Image by Hyundai.

Driven: 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Hyundaiís biggest and most upmarket SUV, the Santa Fe, now places greater emphasis on hybrid power, but is that the right move?

   



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2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

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About 20 years ago, the diesel engine became popular for any number of reasons. Emissions were key, as was the ability to provide the torque of a large petrol engine with a smaller and much more efficient motor. Which made diesel engines perfect for large SUVs, which need torque by the bucketload and become more appealing when they're efficient. But this is a bold new world, and Hyundai has put the emphasis on hybrid power with the new Santa Fe seven-seater. Is that the right move?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto
Price: From £47,760
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol with 270-volt hybrid system
Transmission: six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Battery: 1.49kWh
Power: 230hp
Torque: 264Nm (electric motor only)
Emissions: 168g/km
Fuel Economy: 38.2mpg
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Top speed: 116mph
Boot space: 571-1,649 litres

Styling

The new Santa Fe looks considerably more modern than its predecessor, but there's no hiding the bulk. Instead, Hyundai has elected to go for a slightly American look, with some chrome trim and a wide front grille. It's an imposing thing, and it's quite handsome with it, even if it isn't as chiselled as the closely related Kia Sorento. It has an air of class about it, though, giving it a kind of semi-premium feel to put it on a par with the aforementioned Sorento and the Volkswagen Touareg.

Interior

The Santa Feís cabin is much better than that of the old car, with a stylish dashboard design and exemplary quality. Every button feels well engineered and every panel feels firmly connected to its neighbours. The materials arenít perfect Ė there are some cheaper plastics to be found here and there Ė but itís generally on a par with other mainstream manufacturers. As is the technology, which includes a new touchscreen infotainment system and a digital instrument display. The menus are logically arranged and the screen responds quickly to commands, while clean and modern graphics ensure the Santa Fe can keep up with other mainstream models.

Practicality

Unlike some cars, the Santa Fe does not penalise customers for picking the hybrid when it comes to practicality. The 571-litre boot is the same in hybrid and diesel variants, and it should be more than sufficient for most customers. And the Santa Fe will quite happily seat seven adults with relative ease, although those in the centre seat and the two rearmost seats might find it a bit too cramped for any great distance. That said, children will have plenty of space and will likely love sitting in the rearmost row.

Performance

Santa Fe customers can choose from a wide range of propulsion systems, including a diesel engine and two hybrids. We tested the Ďself-chargingí version, which combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 270-volt hybrid system to provide all-wheel-drive propulsion. Together, the two motors produce a plentiful 230hp, which heads to the wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox.Because of the carís considerable weight, that only permits a 0-62mph time of just over nine seconds, but thatíll be enough for most people Ė after all, the Santa Fe Hybrid is hardly a sporty car.

It is, however, reasonably efficient, achieving almost 40mpg on the official economy test, and itís refined most of the time, with little noise from the electric motor and only a whisper from the engine. Only when you really put your foot down does it get raucous, but that wonít happen all that often.

The only real problem comes when you try to tow or go off road. There, the hybrid system struggles slightly, but thatís what the chunkier diesel engine is there for.

Ride & Handling

On the road, the Santa Fe feels particularly American, with a distinct sense of bulk and wallowiness to the experience. It might be refined Ė thereís little in the way of road noise and only a hint of wind rush Ė but the soft suspension means the car sloshes and rolls around on the road, particularly if you try and throw it into a corner. Instead, itís much better suited to cruising around gently, at which point it becomes very comfortable. Itís particularly good on the motorway, where it wafts along seemingly untroubled by the road surface below. Around town, it isnít quite so smooth, but it still wonít jar or jiggle its passengers too much.

Value

Santa Fe prices start at £42,445, which makes it noticeably more expensive than the (admittedly less spacious) Skoda Kodiaq, although the more closely related Kia Sorento is considerably more expensive again. And you get plenty of equipment fitted as standard, with even the basic Premium model offering pretty much everything you really need. Satellite navigation, heated front seats and leather upholstery are all included, along with parking sensors and a rear-view camera. The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration tech is also included, and there's a Krell sound system.

Verdict

Considering it uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine to provide much of its power, the Santa Fe is remarkably punchy. It's refined, too, and for those who will simply use this car as a big family bus, the hybrid system works well enough. But if you want to tow or head off-road, the hybrid can only help so much. Whether you go for hybrid or diesel power, though, the Santa Fe is a smooth, comfortable and spacious mode of family transport.



James Fossdyke - 8 Mar 2023



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2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Hybrid 1.6 T-GDi 4WD Auto. Image by Hyundai.







 

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