REVIEW: Hyundai Santa Fe

A few weeks back I was very impressed with the new Hyundai Tucson, the best-selling car in Ireland this year. Last week it got even better when I drove the new plug-in Hybrid version of Hyundai’s massive seven-seater Santa Fe.

My test car came in a grey colour, but like the Tucson, the interior was so bright, it would brighten up your day just to sit behind the wheel of this massive people carrier.

I rarely had use for the third row of seats, but with the third row folded down there is huge boot space. However, there is no room for a spare wheel as that space is given over the electrics needed to power a hybrid car.

And if you leave down all five rear seats you get 1,625-litres of space, which should allow you to transport bulky or long items.

Hyundai name some of their cars after towns in the southern part of the USA, bit like Seat, who name their cars after Spanish districts. The Santa Fe is named after the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico and it was the South Korean company’s first SUV when launched in 2001. It proved to be very popular with American motorists.

Names like Tucson and Santa Fe certainly stir up images of the desert and mountainous regions and certainly reflect the vehicles outdoors appeal. That’s probably true in the US, but we don’t have such exotic locations here. You won’t be humming John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’ on a clogged up M50.

At the end of the recent Lockdown there was much talk about the push to electric cars. Hyundai already had the excellent Kona and I had a brief drive recently in Hyundai’s impressive electric Ioniq 5, which is really class.

But for now I think a plug-in hybrid is less worry for our nerves and there is definitely no range anxiety, as you know that a petrol filling station is never far away.

If you charge the Santa Fe at home you should be able to get at least 50k on pure electric mode. Provided your daily commute is short, you may not have to purchase petrol only for long journeys. Much depends on your personal and work circumstances.

The Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. There is plenty of power and you can get from zero to 100kh/h in under nine seconds, if you are in a hurry.

The car is available in just one specification, Executive Plus. That version is very well equipped with 19-inch alloys, roof rails, rear privacy glass etc. Inside there is plenty of head and leg room and you will feel relaxed in the Nappa leather seats. There are front and rear seat warmers and one-touch third-row seat entry.

The dash is dominated by the 10.25-inch colour screen and Hyundai Bluelink which allows owners to locate their Santa Fe, check its fuel level and lock and unlock it remotely via a dedicated app.

Prices start at €53,445, inclusive of grant of €2,500 SEAI grant for private customers. Road tax is €140.

The Santa Fe is Hyundai’s spiritual brand leader and if you have a large family or need to transport large items, have a test drive, I think you will be impressed.