Ryan Bubear has a taste of the facelifted Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2CRDi Elite...
Ah, yes. Pricing. It's a sore topic here in South Africa.
This is the case particularly among importers such as Associated Motor Holdings, the Imperial subsidiary responsible for bringing in and distributing Hyundai and Kia products.
Back in 2013, when we sampled the then-new third-generation Hyundai Santa Fe, we noted that the flagship crossover's move upmarket came at a bit of a premium. Indeed, the base model back then cost a not inconsiderable R449 900.
Fast forward to today. That same model — although admittedly with a revision here and some more kit there — weighs in at a whopping R684 900. And the range-topping all-wheel drive seven-seater? Try R724 900 (at the time of writing, at least).
Although all manufacturers have taken a knock from our weakening currency, it's the ones that don't produce any vehicles locally that are hit the hardest. The result, naturally, is to pass along at least some of the pain to the consumer in the form of price increases. And, we're afraid, there are plenty more to come.
So, the facelifted Hyundai Santa Fe bears a frighteningly high sticker-price. But, putting that aside for just a moment, what changes come with this mid-cycle refresh?
Well, the styling updates are subtle, although close inspection reveals new front and rear bumpers, redesigned front fog-lights, fresh LED daytime running lights, updated Xenon projector headlights, and new 19-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, there have been minor updates to the console cluster and navigation system, and the inclusion of a splash of new materials. But while there are plenty of luxury features on offer — such as an auto-sliding electric driver's seat, heated front seats, a full-length sunroof, rear passenger blinds, and a reversing camera integrated into the rear-view mirror — these small changes can't hide the age of the cabin.
The infotainment system, for instance, feels decidedly dated, even with the updated sat-nav system in place. And while Bluetooth functionality has thankfully been added (something we couldn't believe was missing from the model we tested three years ago), its inclusion feels distinctly aftermarket.
But if you're easily wooed by oodles of standard spec, you'll be happy to know that the facelifted model gains even more kit over its already liberally equipped predecessor. Yes, the new model adds a blind-spot monitoring system, a rear-cross traffic alert system, adaptive cruise control, and a power tailgate. There's also a smidgen more space available on the second row of sliding seats thanks to an increased range of adjustment.
Under the bonnet, however, nothing's changed. But this needn't be seen as a bad thing, since the Santa Fe's 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine goes about its business in an efficient enough manner, despite its advanced age. With 145kW and 436Nm on tap, the forced induction oil-burner is pleasingly punchy, if somewhat gruff by modern premium standards.
Still, the four-cylinder engine spins at only a touch over 2000rpm at 120km/h when cruising in top gear, and is fairly muted when doing so. And with that peak torque figure available from 1800rpm to 2500rpm, it's fairly responsive, too, able as it is to sprint to 100km/h in less than ten seconds (with Sport mode firmly engaged). The six-speed automatic transmission, though, is certainly ripe for replacement.
Hyundai claims that the front-wheel drive five-seater we tested sips at 8.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. And, as we sometimes find with Korean products, we managed to beat that with a final figure of 7.6 without much effort at all (other than perhaps defaulting to the Eco driving mode).
Space, naturally, is another Santa Fe standout, with this model boasting a gargantuan luggage capacity of 1003 litres, made possible by the lack of the two extra seats and the fact that the spare wheel finds its home underneath the vehicle. The ride, even on 19-inch wheels, meanwhile, strangely feels more composed than the all-wheel drive variant we drove a while back.
So, the subtly updated Santa Fe feels distinctly premium in some ways (thanks largely to its high levels of luxury equipment), but lacking in others (due to the ageing cabin and middle-of-the-road powertrain refinement).
Ultimately, however, the Hyundai Santa Fe is still a highly practical, surprisingly efficient, fairly handsome vehicle that has plenty going for it.
Sadly, we just can't ignore its biggest failing: that eye-watering price-tag. For less cash, for instance, one could buy the new Ford Everest, the new Kia Sorento, or even the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
And, unfortunately for most of us, price is often a deal-breaker...
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See page two for specs and pricing.