2013 Hyundai Sante Fe R2.2
When a motoring journalist reminisces about his car history, he or she tends to glaze over the duds and focus instead on the Alfa Romeos and original Mini Coopers and so on.
Dig deep into my own past and you’ll find that my particularly low point has a name, and that is a 1997 Hyundai Accent 1.5 CSi. It was a direct descendent of the Pony, the little sedan that put South Korea on the motoring map, sort of. It was nothing special – to be completely honest it was crap, and I only recall it now as I sit at the helm of the firm’s latest version of their flagship many-people-mover.
The new Santa Fe is nothing short of brilliant, lacking only Bluetooth connectivity but packing just about everything else you can imagine. Yes it looks like a supersized iX35 – a very good thing, but dare I say better resolved, more masculine even? Three derivatives are available, all sharing a solitary engine, but to be fair it is the right engine for this application.
A torquey 2.2 litre diesel has been mated to a creamy smooth transmission and the result is simply sublime. We even dug in (literally) to some sand dunes in the Paternoster area, some deeper than others. It was no discredit to the Santa Fe’s off-road credentials that a few city slickers had found themselves compromised, to the point of immovability.
A lockable diff made going over the thick stuff bearable but when calls of “No low range!” emanated from the cabins of stuck-in-the-sand Santa Fes, well like a passing (shirtless) Defender driver shouted back, “Dis vokol, jy floor hom net!” And you know what? He was right.
In other news, Peter Schreyer, the man who made Kia cars pretty, has now been put in charge of Hyundai’s creative as well, so expect even better looking Hyundai models from here on. Good, because that first Accent of mine was bloody hideous.
Santa Fe R2.2 Premium FWD 5-seater R434 900
Santa Fe R2.2 Executive AWD 7-seater R459 900
Santa Fe R2.2 Elite AWD 7-seater R499 900