WITH a model range that will be headed by a sporty new SR edition, the Hyundai Santa Fe will take on new looks and improved technology for 2015, with the impressive 7 seater undergoing a makeover.
Externally, the 2015 Santa Fe brings a darker chrome grille, together with new daytime running lights and cornering lights across the three levels of the Santa Fe range.
These subtle new features further enhance the Santa Fe’s refined fluidic sculpture design, while the range retains Hyundai’s stylish 17-inch (Active), 18-inch (Elite) and 19-inch (Highlander) alloy wheels.
On the technology front, the mid-spec Elite and flagship Highlander now come standard with Hyundai’s Smart Tailgate, with hands-free operation.
Rather than requiring a foot-sweep under the rear bumper, as used by other such systems in this class, the Santa Fe’s tailgate is operated by the sensor in the vehicle’s proximity key. Stand near the back of the car for three seconds and the boot opens automatically.
The top-spec 2015 Santa Fe Highlander ups the technology ante even further with front parking sensors as standard, Lane Departure Warning and – perhaps most convenient of all – Hyundai Smart Parking Assist (SPAS), which parks the vehicle automatically.
The upgraded vehicles now also feature a range of drive train upgrades, including new front wheel bearings, redesigned front knuckles, and changes to various suspension bushes throughout.
The upgraded Santa Fe incorporates both a new steering ‘gearbox’ and a switch to quicker 32-bit computer processing – rather than the predecessor model’s 16-bit system. The steering changes have made the Santa Fe’s innovative Flex Steer system even more impressive, with greater weight and feel differences between its three modes.
A choice of engine – the Theta-II 2.4-litre (141kW and 242Nm) GDi petrol or R2.2-litre CRDi turbo-diesel (145kW and 421Nm in manual form, 436Nm for the automatic), both powerful and economical four-cylinders, has further improved the drive and economy of the Hyundai.
A six-speed manual transmission (Active equipment level only) and advanced six-speed automatic with electronic sequential manual mode (available in Active, Elite and Highlander levels) share Hyundai’s advanced Active On-Demand 4WD system, which features Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC). ATCC delivers torque vectoring by using an active AWD coupling combined with the braking system to immediately and transparently reduce understeer and improve lateral stability.
Benchmark performance and driveability are made even more appealing by the 2.2-litre CRDi-engined 2015 Santa Fe’s combined 6.6L/100km (six-speed manual) and 7.3L/100km (six-speed automatic) fuel economy and the 2.4-litre GDI’s combined 9.0L/100km (six-speed manual and auto).
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SR: THE NEW SPORTS FLAGSHIP
From the first quarter of next year, the 2015 Santa Fe line-up will include a sporty SR version of the popular SUV, which joins the acclaimed Veloster SR Turbo, i30 SR and Accent SR in the Hyundai range. Featuring an eye-catching sports bodykit, Brembo brakes, H&R performance springs, matte-black Oz Racing wheels and Michelin Latitude Tour high-performance tyres, the Santa Fe SR is the ideal ‘range topper’ for Hyundai’s sporting SR sub-brand.
The SR’s Brembo brakes feature four-piston monobloc front callipers and two-piston rears. Overall disc diameter and thickness also have been increased. The result is a marked improvement in stopping power over the standard 2015 Santa Fe’s already-impressive braking performance.
Dimensions of the Sport Pack’s new 19″ Oz Racing Versilia performance alloy wheels are unchanged over those available on the top-spec 2015 Santa Fe Highlander. However, the new wheels offer better caliper clearance than the standard wheels.
The new Santa Fe SR also features high-performance 235/55 R19 Michelin Latitude Tour tyres.
In Active (base model) form, the AWD 2.4L GDi petrol edition of the Santa Fe will hit the market at $38,490 for the manual and $40,990 for the automatic, while the AWD 2.2L CRDi Diesel is priced at $41,490 for the manual and $43,990 for the auto.
The improved Elite and top of the range Highlander are only available in the diesel variant, with an automatic gearbox, and are priced at $48,490 and $53,240 respectively.
Pricing for the Santa Fe SR will be announced closer to launch in Q1 2015.