While India’s second-largest car maker Hyundai has seen success in almost every segment it is present in, it could never crack the premium SUV segment despite two attempts—first the Terracan and then the Tucson. So, in 2010, Hyundai introduced to the Indian market its star SUV—the Santa Fe. Named after the capital city of New Mexico in the US and once so popular with American customers that Hyundai had a tough time meeting the demand, the Santa Fe was the natural choice for India. Initially, it did capture the attention of Indian buyers, but soon it ran into smaller SUVs by BMW and Audi and, of course, the Toyota Fortuner. But Hyundai was not to sit quiet. At this year’s Auto Expo, the Korean company launched the 3rd generation Santa Fe to take on the competition.
The new Santa Fe embodies the ‘Storm Edge’ language derived from Hyundai’s now-celebrated fluidic design philosophy. So, the front gets a three-bar hexagonal grille surrounded by headlamps and LED daytime running lights, while the rear is highlighted by LED lamps and skid plates with dual exhaust that add the much-required SUV touch. The side profile is striking—the large, 18-inch diamond cut alloys and the roof rails make the Santa Fe look sporty. The spare wheel is fixed under the body—though it makes the rear look neat, but mounting and unmounting the wheel can be slightly inconvenient in case you encounter a flat tyre.
The Santa Fe has a spacious cabin and you get two-tone beige and brown interiors with silver inserts around the AC vents and door trims. There are plenty of storage pockets all around—in the doors, between the front seats, behind the seats—and you even get two charging points. Then there is a dual-zone AC with vents on the B and C pillars. In fact, the multi-function steering wheel, leather-wrapped gear-shift knob and the ergonomically-placed centre console, all look great.
But there are some omissions. One, while the driver seat gets a 12-way electronic adjustment feature, the front passenger seat only gets manual adjustment and cannot be raised—so a short passenger may find it difficult to see the road ahead. Two, the cabin rear-view mirror is not the auto-dimming one. And three, there is no satellite navigation. We would also have liked ventilated seats as are there in the Elantra, plus maybe sunroof as an option.
Still, there is great attention to detail and the feature