Hyundai Santa Fe

Premium SE 2.2 CRDi

Hyundai Santa Fe, watersplash
Hyundai Santa Fe, front action
Hyundai Santa Fe, side static
Hyundai Santa Fe, rear action
Hyundai Santa Fe, third row seats
Hyundai Santa Fe, dashboard
Hyundai Santa Fe, boot

HURRY or you'll miss it! The car you see here is no longer on sale, but you might well find one or two looking for owners at tempting prices.

For Hyundai, like every other car maker, has to keep its models fresh in the eye of potential buyers and has just updated its range topping Santa Fe.

In truth, it looks almost exactly the same as the one driven here, with only new bumpers and lights and a bit of added silver bling at the front and new alloy wheels on the outside and a mild refresh to the cabin's materials - or 'important upgrades' as Hyundai calls them.

The Santa Fe is a proper seven seater (with heated seats in the middle row and air con controls for the two in the boot) and the latest model has a bit more sliding adjustment for the middle set.

Deeper upgrades include a new navigation system and DAB for the radio, along with safety features that brings brakes which apply themselves in an emergency if you don't and adaptive cruise control that keeps a safe distance from the car in front.

Gentle changes under the bonnet mean a bit more power and a bit less pollution from the 2.2-litre diesel in the test car. It's the only engine offered in the UK and comes with four-wheel drive only.

Some countries have the choice of a cheaper Santa Fe with a smaller diesel or petrol engine and front-drive only, but we Brits like our off-roaders potent and plush and Hyundai obviously judges that feeble demand for lesser models would make it pointless to offer them here.

There's a modest £310 price increase on the latest Santa Fe but remember a dealer ought to be amenable to a discussion about discount on any 'old new' stock, which would widen the gap between the latest version and its just superseded sibling.

Anyway, back to the car you see here. Standing tall and proud, it looks every inch the sophisticated man about town (with a pair of wellies at the ready) and fully the equal in the style stakes to anything designed closer to home than the Hyundai's south Korean birthplace.

The days when you bought a Hyundai purely on price and the promise of long term reliability are long gone, although the five year unlimited mileage warranty remains as a warming confidence booster.

The Santa Fe stands comparison with any rival near its price and has charms that grow with every mile put beneath its big alloy wheels. There's no denying the diesel thrum from an engine that pulls eagerly and delivers power smoothly through an unobtrusive automatic gearbox but once up to cruising speed things turn calmer.

A 200 mile trip on lovely rural roads left me as fresh at the end as the start and with admiration for a car that simply worked properly; from clear instruments to seats that turned cosy in seconds on demand and the typically elevated driving position that makes cars like the Santa Fe so relaxing to drive.

The newcomer will probably marginally improve fuel consumption but the 38mpg recorded over 600 varied miles of testing was respectable enough for a big car with proper off-road potential.

FAST FACTS

Hyundai Santa Fe Premium SE 2.2 CRDi

Price: £37,110

Mechanical: 194bhp, 2,199cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 10.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 41.5

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 178 g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 5yrs/unlimited miles

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