In-depth reviews

Hyundai Santa Fe review - Engines, performance and drive

The hybrid Santa Fe is a composed, comfortable and reassuring performer

Even on rough British B-roads, the Santa Fe impresses with a great sense of composure. The car’s body is very well controlled, remaining flat and unruffled by surface imperfections; body roll in corners is well-contained and – on our car’s 19-inch alloys – grip levels are high for a car of this type. The standard self-levelling suspension is well-damped and makes all journeys a relaxing experience, although we noted a slight fidgetiness to the ride quality at low speed and a little wind noise is apparent at motorways speeds.

A new drive mode selector helps set up the Santa Fe for most road conditions, moving torque around the car’s HTRAC four-wheel drive system to find the most grip or to save fuel. In Eco and Sport modes the Santa Fe modifies a range of drivetrain parameters to suit your mood, while Comfort mode softens the car’s responses. Snow, Mud and Sand modes adjust the driving characteristics to suit different conditions off-road too.

A small gripe is the Santa Fe’s steering, which remains heavy regardless of the selected drive mode and is pretty devoid of feedback. However, the overall sense is of reassuring competence aided by effective technology. If you chuck the Santa Fe into a corner too fast you can feel the drive control system modulating torque between the four wheels and working the brakes to keep the car’s hefty nose tucked into the chosen line.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

Both Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid models share their turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with the Ioniq hatchback, and it’s one of the few areas where the Santa Fe fails to impress. It’s not a lack of performance that disappoints, but a lack of refinement - the engine sounds harsh right across its rev range, even when driven gently.

In the mild-hybrid the engine is aided and abetted by a 59bhp electric motor fed by a 1.49kWh ‘self-charging’ battery that’s topped up when you drive. Combined maximum output is a decent 227bhp, and the four-wheel-drive Santa Fe will reach 62mph in 9.1 seconds.

The PHEV version uses a larger 13.8kWh battery with a 91kW motor, and its combined power output of 261bhp means you can reach 62mph in 8.8 seconds. All hybrid variants have a 116mph top speed.

If you’re contemplating one of the 2020m/y 2.2 diesel models, you’ll find it’s slightly slower off the mark with 0-62mph in around 9.5 seconds, but top speed is higher at 127mph.

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