Driving report: Hyundai Santa Fe HEV: collection of quotes

Modern mobility is full of conflicting goals.

Driving report: Hyundai Santa Fe HEV: collection of quotes

Modern mobility is full of conflicting goals. On the one hand, the vehicles should be as efficient as possible, but on the other hand, comfort should not be neglected. Then there is the contrast of size, aerodynamics and space economy. So the cars shouldn't increase in size because the cities are overcrowded, but the passengers shouldn't get any claustrophobic feelings and the vehicles should be as slippery as possible, but still visually different from the rest of the avalanche of metal. The fact that you can't always escape this design dilemma with a clear solution can be seen in sucked-up sedans like the VW ID.7 and the Hyundai Ioniq 6, both of which follow the form-follows-function approach.

What does all this have to do with the Santa Fe? At 4.83 meters, the fifth generation of the SUV is 45 millimeters longer than before and the wheelbase has also grown by five centimeters to 2,815 millimeters. This growth is anything but sensationalism. Because the spatial conditions have noticeably improved. The legroom in the back seat increases by 20 millimeters to 1,055 millimeters and in the third row it increases by 15 millimeters to 761 millimeters. Since the headroom at the very back has increased by 69 millimeters to 958 millimeters and the backrest can now be tilted ten degrees, adults can also find space there as long as they are not taller than 1.80 meters. The wide-opening tailgate and the low loading sill make filling the luggage compartment easier.

There is also an angular look that sets the Hyundai Santa Fe apart from the crossover monotony, but is still a visual collection of quotes from various models. The radiator grille and headlight graphics are reminiscent of the Polestar or the Volvo XC60, which also happens to be a competitor to the Santa Fe. The taillights are similar to those of the Honda Accord III Aerodeck. When it comes to an SUV that needs to exude a lot of off-road vehicle attitude, you would do well to look to England. They also know this in South Korea, you can see it in the angular silhouette and shoulder line, which could also come from a Range Rover.

So the Hyundai Santa Fe stands firmly in the wind. One would think so. In fact, the opposite is true. The new crossover has a drag coefficient of 0.29, making it 0.04 points better than its predecessor. So this contradiction has also been resolved by the technicians optimizing the underbody and the wheel arches, adding a rear spoiler to the roof and installing a louvre radiator grille. To make this Santa Fe look good, there are now 21-inch wheels in the wheel arches for the first time instead of the previous 20-inch ones. The exterior has already been successful.

The same applies to the interior. Here the Koreans reach into the corporate shelf with the two 12.3 inch monitors, one for the digital instruments and one as a touchscreen for the infotainment. Thanks to the curvature, the driver can easily access all functions without having to twist out of the seat too much. And if you've taken a close look at the English competitors, then you've also taken a bold approach to the interior, as you can see from the slanted 6.6-inch display that controls the air conditioning functions. The operation is hardly a mystery. The software is kept up to date wirelessly. There should also be a navigation system with a displayed camera image in Europe, as well as adaptive cruise control, which also depends on traffic signs. Two smartphones can be supplied with power inductively in the large center console. Alternatively, you plug the cell phone into one of the USB-C ports, which then pumps 27 watts of energy into the batteries. It is also practical that the armrest and the center console can be opened from the front and back. In short: you feel comfortable in the new Santa Fe.

Especially since the comfortably tuned chassis also contributes to relaxed travel by handling potholes and transverse joints well and only wobbles a little in the latter. The Hyundai Santa Fe shares the technology with the Tuscon, but has been improved in detail. Among other things, the chassis is now equipped with hydraulic bushings. The optional all-wheel drive with an electrically controlled clutch is also identical. The fact that the six-speed automatic transmission feels like a CVT transmission that is popular in Asia also fits with the comfortable overall impression. The Santa Fe isn't a hot rod that drives into the ground in the left lane. The fifth generation of the Hyundai SUV has to do without a diesel. The Santa Fe will have two electrified gasoline engines (a PHEV and a HEV), based on the 1.6-liter turbo engine (Gamma III). In the hybrid we drove with a system output of 169 kW / 230 hp, the petrol engine contributes 132 kW / 180 hp, reaches country road speed from a standstill in 9.5 seconds and is up to 190 km/h. This roughly corresponds to the data from the predecessor. The new Santa Fe should be available at dealers in April 2024.