Santa special from

Hyundai

Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, front, action
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, nose
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, front
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, side
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, rear
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, interior
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, interior
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, centre console controls
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, display screen
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, headlights
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, rear seats
Hyundai Santa Fe, 2024, boot

AS the flagship SUV in the Hyundai line up, the Santa Fe has carved out a reputation as a quality big car that is very capable in all circumstances.

A new version is in the wings but the current model has plenty to commend it.

The fourth generation Santa Fe has has been around since 2018 and it built on a lineage created in 2001as Hyundai's first global SUV.

It's available either as a 1.6-litre hybrid or a plug-in variant and we have just been putting the hybrid in top specification Ultimate trim through its paces over thousands of miles.

Costing from £48,590 it's fully kitted and that includes a head-up display, a panoramic sunroof, a hands' free electric tail gate and an extensive array of safety aids.

There's also leather upholstery, a spacious seven-seat cabin and boot space ranging from a capacious 571 litres in five-seat guise to 1,649 litres with the rear seats folded.

The fuel tank is just as huge as the rest of the car and comes in at almost 15 gallons - enough to travel some 570 miles on a full tank according to official figures.

We found the hybrid powertrain one of the best around and frequently returned more than the 38.2mpg Hyundai states.

Overall, we averaged 37 to the gallon and that was in almost 3,000 miles of driving - and that's from a near two-tonne, all-wheel-drive vehicle fitted with a 1.6-litre engine mated to a self-charging electrical system.

On a run we regularly manged to average more than 45mpg - and that's impressive for such a large vehicle.

The Santa Fe has a six-speed automatic transmission that's operated using push buttons on the centre console.

In fact, the centre console is home to more than 30 controls from heating and ventilation to on and off-road drive modes and quick keys for the infotainment system that can also be operated from its 10.25-inch wide touchscreen.

For those not enamoured with the current trend of auto makers fitting cars with total touchscreen operating systems the Hyundai set up in the Santa Fe is a welcome and sensible compromise.

The only control out of place is the electronic parking brake switch which is located on the bottom right of the facia - although the car is fitted with an auto hold function that's operated from the centre console.

Drive modes are selected from a rotary control with off-road settings for snow, mud and sand well separated from more everyday modes of eco, sport and a ‘smart' setting that automatically adjusts to driving style.

Total output of the hybrid powertrain is 230ps which is enough to give the Santa Fe a towing limit of 1.65 tonnes and more than enough performance for daily use.

Acceleration from 0 to 62mph is 9.1 seconds with a maximum of 116mph and for a large vehicle - the car is 15ft 8in long which is more than a Land Rover Defender - the Santa Fe is surprisingly nimble.

There are no complaints about handling and it's fitted with an array of parking aids such as collision avoidance and a surround view camera system.

Other driving assistance technology includes lane departure and keeping systems, forward collision sensors with a junction function, rear cross traffic alerts and hill descent control.

From a styling perspective the Santa Fe has Hyundai's new-style large honeycomb grille and the front is set off with nicely designed LED headlight clusters which give excellent night-time illumination.

Luxury touches include leather upholstery, two memory settings for the driver's seat and heated seats front and rear - the front ones are also ventilated for warmer temperatures.

All in all the Santa Fe is something of a dark horse in the big SUV market.

It's a very well-equipped all-rounder with enough space, comfort and performance to match the likes of Mercedes, Audi and even Range Rovers - and with a more affordable price tag.

£48,590

1.6-litre, 4cyl, 230ps petrol hybrid engine driving all wheels via six-speed automatic transmission

116mph

9.1 seconds

38.2

24

168g/km

37%

5yrs/unlimited miles

4.5

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