Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new Hyundai Santa Fe 30 Special Edition V6 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Hyundai's large Santa Fe SUV has been quite a success for the brand since its reintroduction and update in 2013, and the company has decided to give the big SUV a little more pep in its step with the addition of a limited run of V6 petrol engines.
As Aussies step out of vehicles like Holden Commodores, Ford Falcons and Toyota Camrys, and as diesel sales for large SUVs are outshone by large-capacity petrol models like Toyota's Kluger, the opportunities for a reasonably frugal but smooth and powerful drivetrain appear to be growing once more.
Named in honour of the company's 30th anniversary in Australia, will Hyundai place the V6 back on full-time duty next year? If this limited run is anything to go by, the chances are more than good.
The Santa Fe marked a real turning point in the boldness of Hyundai's design language. With the employment of the former head of Audi design Peter Schreyer at the beginning of the decade, Hyundai's exteriors have been going from strength to strength over the last five years.
The Santa Fe is strong and bold and cuts a sharp presence on the road. Its relatively small cabin and swept roofline also give it an almost coupe-like appearance.
A spoiler on the roof and a small diffuser on the back, along with black plastic overfenders and a prominent yet stylishly underdone grill, give the Santa Fe a real point of difference.
The Santa Fe is a proper family car. It is genuinely big inside, front and rear.
It's not as overblown as some of its rivals like the Toyota Kluger, but by the same token, it's not too stark and plain either. The limited edition 30 makes use of 19-inch OZ-branded rims, which also give the Santa Fe a bit more character.
The Santa Fe is a proper family car. It is genuinely big inside, front and rear. The third row of seats, though, is more an afterthought, and it's not something an adult would want to sit in for a prolonged period of time.
Thankfully, the third row folds away flat into the floor and doesn't intrude on the cargo space.
While there are more contemporary dashboards in the market, the stylish yet simple layout of the Santa Fe still works perfectly well. The multimedia screen is well sized and full colour, and offers both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Satellite navigation is not fitted to the 30 Year edition, though.
There is a pair of 12-volt power sockets, a single USB, and an ancillary port conveniently located in the cubby hole underneath the dash. There are two side-by-side cupholders in the centre behind the gearshift, large bottle holders in each of the doors and another two cupholders in a retractable drawer in a centre rear armrest.
The climate control system can be activated or deactivated for rear seat passengers, and there are vents in the B-pillars for second row occupants.
There are a couple of strange omissions from this car; the lack of auto-up glass on the front passenger side as well as powered seating. The leather-accented seats are broad, deep, and quite soft but still comfortable. It's certainly a material that will easily handle the rigours of a life with young children.
The second row of seats are 60/40 split-fold, and have a centre armrest that can be flipped down with levers from the cargo area to reveal a fully flat floor that contributes to 516 litres of carrying capacity. There are also small retracting tie-down hooks along the floor.
Two ISOFIX mounts feature in the second row, but there are no child seat anchors for the third row.
The unpowered tailgate can be quite heavy for smaller drivers, but opens wide to reveal a large loading aperture.
For the driver, while there is a padded centre console for one elbow, and some cushioning on the lower part of the door armrest for the other, there is an uncomfortably sharp edged trim line underneath the driver's side window, which is a natural place for a taller driver's arm to rest.
Despite the large diameter 19-inch wheels and low-profile tyres, the Santa Fe's ride comfort is a particular highlight.
But in a big bonus, the sun visor not only covers the front window well, but actually slides along its rail to be an effective shield against morning or afternoon sun on the side window. It's a very rare thing to find in a car these days, and I wish more car companies would add it back into their larger vehicles in particular. Doesn't anyone commute north or south any more?
The Santa Fe still uses a foot operated parking brake, which is a bit of an anachronism, and also compromises the left footrest. There's a small rest there, but it could stand to be higher - and would be if the park brake wasn't there.
Price and specs
The Santa Fe 30 is a limited edition and doesn't quite conform to other Santa Fes in the range. There's leather accented trim, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual zone air and 19-inch dark anodised rims from famed Italian alloy maker OZ.
Bluetooth connectivity with streaming and automatic lights and wipers are also fitted, but it misses out on satellite navigation.
Hyundai claims a fuel economy figure of 9.2 litres per 100km. Over 450km, we averaged an impressive 9.6L/100km.
Hyundai makes a point of tuning its vehicles locally for ride and handling and the Santa Fe is a beneficiary of this. Despite the large diameter 19-inch wheels and low-profile tyres, the Santa Fe's ride comfort is a particular highlight.
It's not brittle in any way, shape or form, yet it has a liveliness that belies the car's size. The steering is quite neutral and light, and Hyundai has moved away from the adjustable weight settings of earlier model cars.
The big addition, of course, is the petrol V6 engine - silky smooth, very quiet and very linear in its power delivery.
There are three different modes that affect the throttle and gearing on the conventional six speed auto. There are eco, normal, and sport modes that can be operated via a switch on the centre console; only the throttle and gear shift maps are changed in those modes.
The big addition, of course, is the petrol V6 engine - silky smooth, very quiet and very linear in its power delivery. There's no waiting for turbo push to come in. You just put your foot down and it ups and goes.
The six-speed gearbox can jump down two gears quite quickly, which makes progress a bit harsh and jerky. It only happens when you're really floor the throttle, though, and it can be banished by selecting eco-mode.
The Santa Fe can also be driven in manual mode, although there are no shifter paddles. In terms of off-road work, our tests didn't take in any dirt, but it has a couple of off-road features fitted as standard, including descent control, which can be operated via a switch on the dash.
The Santa Fe is covered by Hyundai's five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at 15,000km or 12-month intervals. Hyundai's 'Lifetime Service Care' program caps the first three services at $379, the fourth is $499, the next totals $379 and the final costs $460.
There are seven airbags, but the curtain airbags only extend to the second row.