Next Hyundai Santa Fe spied in India

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Hyundai is working hard to get the new Santa Fe here in 2013. The current car, priced at Rs 23-26 lakh, is very important to the brand, and the Korean company is keen to build on its success.

The new third-generation Santa Fe is the latest Hyundai to adopt the company’s now infamous ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design language, but it also gets its own new design dialect, called ‘Storm Edge’. The company says it “captures dynamic forms created by nature during a storm”. The new Santa Fe is clearly more attractive than the current model sold in India; testament to this is the sharper headlight design, the huge front grille and plenty of design flourishes.

Internationally, two versions of the new Santa Fe exist. There’s the normal 4689mm (2700mm wheelbase) version for markets where urban agility is more important, and a longer, 4905mm (2800mm wheelbase) version that replaces the Veracruz in the USA. Despite the Indian infatuation with imposing road presence and acres of cabin space when it comes to SUVs, we are likely to get the shorter version, currently being produced in the USA.


Step inside and you are greeted by a cabin swathed in a continuation of Hyundai’s new design philosophy. Blue lighting lends a futuristic touch; there’s the layered dashboard design and a classy blend of wood trim and leather abounds. International markets will get both five- and seven-seat versions, although it’s the latter that Hyundai will bring to India. The current SUV suffers slightly from a shortage of head- and knee-room in the third row of seats, and Hyundai says it’s made some improvements in this area (the wheelbase of the car is the same, but the car is longer, especially the rear overhang). In time-honoured fashion, the Korean manufacturer will brim the India-spec car with features. The current-gen SUV already has no dearth of features, and it will be interesting to see what new features Hyundai can add. Overseas, the fully loaded car comes with a self-parking system, a tyre-pressure monitor and a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, and some of these could certainly come here.

Under the hood, Hyundai has updated the same 2.2-litre diesel that powers the current car, but has made improvements mostly geared at better economy and lower emissions. Power and torque figures are identical to the current car (194bhp, 42.9kgm) and still class-leading, and that means it is likely to be extremely tractable, with plenty of pulling power.

Hyundai also has a smaller 2.0-litre ‘R’ diesel on offer now, and would do well to introduce this engine option in India for a more competitive price point, similar to what Chevrolet has done with the Captiva.

A big SUV though it may be, the car-like driving manners of the current model are one reason for its success. The new car also rides on an independent suspension, with a new sub-frame providing additional insulation from the road. These two factors are vital in helping Hyundai find an ideal balance between ride and handling, just like it is on the current car. An interesting fact is that the new Santa Fe’s body shell is built from technology used on the European-market i40, recipient of the EuroCarBody award in 2011.

The new Santa Fe’s primary competition in India will come in the form of the Renault Koleos and the recently updated Chevrolet Captiva. Despite being plagued by a dated dashboard design, inferior material quality and ageing looks compared to the other two, the current Santa Fe still manages to hold its spot as the best car in the segment, thanks to its tough build, decent ride and handling, and superior engine and gearbox combination.

The ‘Fluidic’ Santa Fe, expected sometime in mid-2013 at an estimated price of Rs 24-25 lakh, could take Hyundai’s success in the SUV segment to the next level.

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Dear Hyundai,

You can't feed the rabbit & tiger with the same meal!

Your fluidic mantra will not work everywhere!

Go to the drawing table & try something else for a SUV, which is considered to be a manly thing!

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