Hyundai Santa Fe

After seven months on the fleet, our Hyundai Santa Fe's copybook was seriously blotted following a nightmare service

  • Engine: Despite the servicing hassles, the engine is a belter. My brother drives a BMW 320d and thought the Santa Fe was a petrol – that’s proof how smooth and hushed it is. Road manners: The seven-seat Hyundai is a great cruiser. There’s very little wind noise and ride comfort is good.Versatility: It’s simply so user-friendly. One handle lifts and lowers rearmost seats, while the middle row drops in a single easy action, too.Boot: The grey carpet may show the dirt, but the massive load bay brushes clean easily.
  • Dealer service: The Santa Fe comes with a five-year warranty, but the treatment we received makes a mockery of that. Gearbox: Only a five-speeder, first and second are too short, then there’s a large gap up to third.

How often do you raise your car bonnet? An occasional oil check or washer bottle top-up are the only reasons most of us put our heads under the hood. However, this was the exact situation I found myself in only minutes after having the car serviced!

The 10,000-mile check up was carried out by Swindon Hyundai in Wiltshire and was completed on time (an hour-and-a-half) and on budget (£185). So far, so good - even if the car wasn't valeted and the staff were neither knowledgable nor that welcoming (it was early in the morning). However, I drove away relatively happy.

But things weren't quite right. Crawling out through town, the engine didn't seem fully responsive, but I persevered and got on the M4. Oh help! The 2.2-litre turbodiesel refused to rev beyond 2,800rpm, the engine warning light came on, the turbo didn't spool up, and the off-roader was outdragged by lorries. It was a truly frightening experience.

Granted, I was fairly angry when I phoned the dealer to ask why my car had gone in healthy and come out sick - especially as I'd seen the Santa Fe being taken for a test drive before it was handed back. The service manager was immediately defensive, insisting it wasn't the garage's fault.

So back I went, wasting my own time and fuel. To be fair, OU06 GZS was checked out immediately - but then it didn't take the garage long to diagnose the fault. The mechanic had actually forgotten to reconnect the turbo inlet pipe.

A simple fix, but then the keys were given back to me with no apology, no offer to compensate me for any inconvenience, no free valet... absolutely nothing at all!

With the Santa Fe, Hyundai is trying to tempt a new, wealthier clientele to the brand. As a result, the dealers have had special training to improve customer service. It's a great pity they seemed to have forgotten about all that so soon.

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