Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2

CRDI Premium SE

Hyundai Santa Fe, front, off road
Hyundai Santa Fe, front action
Hyundai Santa Fe, front
Hyundai Santa Fe, side static
Hyundai Santa Fe, rear action
Hyundai Santa Fe, side
Hyundai Santa Fe, dashboard
Hyundai Santa Fe, cabin
Hyundai Santa Fe, interior
Hyundai Santa Fe, third row seats
Hyundai Santa Fe, boot

GIVEN the choice between a people-carrier or an SUV, more and more buyers are digging in their pockets for sports utility vehicles.

It's not surprising, really. While MPVs may be practical enough with seven seats and all the cup holders you cope with, they tend to look duller, more worthy and inevitably somewhat mumsy.

Not so the sharply styled SUV which represents exploration, the outdoor world and a definite sense of youth and adventure.

And there are a handful of models that can match people carriers' seven-seat capacity without costing the earth.

One such example is the Hyundai Santa Fe, a neatly designed four-wheel-drive with a gutsy 2.2-litre diesel engine, bags of luxury equipment and enough space for the whole family including a third row in the back.

Despite its height and size, it doesn't feel ungainly on bendy UK roads. The suspension is set up to minimise body roll and to allow decent manoeuvrability. In fact, if anything, the ride is a tad firm over knobbly surfaces.

With 197bhp on tap, there's ample power for most situations. It will reach 62mph in around nine seconds, which is quicker than some rivals.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with the option of an automatic. The manual gearbox on the test car was perfectly adequate but an automatic would suit the car's relaxed nature better, I felt.

While its off-road capability might not match a Discovery's, the Santa Fe is easily able to cope with rough tracks and grassy slopes while the high ground clearance and hill descent system gives added security when required.

Most of the time it operates in two wheel drive mode, but when conditions become slippery torque is directed to the second axle.

This is of benefit to fuel economy which, in my hands, averaged out at 37mpg. CO2 emissions are 161g/km, which is steeper than some of the latest rivals.

A big plus to Hyundai ownership, however, is the five year, unlimited mileage warranty.

Its practicality and huge cabin space is a big selling point. The seven-seater has no less than 516 litres of luggage room with the two main rows of seats in place. Fold one row down and this expands to 1,615 litres.

The final row of seats is great for children, but a bit of squeeze for adults and it is best thought of as mainly for short trips. Good sized door pockets, a big glove box and plenty of cup holders add to the family friendly nature of the Santa Fe.

With a price tag of more than £36,000 for the Premium SE you expect a bit of luxury, and few buyers will be disappointed. Standard features include touch-screen sat nav, leather seating, air con, cruise control, panoramic sunroof, power tailgate, keyless entry and heated seats.

On the safety side, there are seven air bags and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.

FAST FACTS

Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDI Premium SE

Price: £36,895

Mechanical:197bhp, 2,198cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 9.0 seconds

Combined MPG: 46.3

Insurance Group: 28

C02 emissions: 161g/km

Bik rating: 33%

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