2020 Hyundai Santa Fe: detailed changes announced

Australia’s incoming Santa Fe facelift moves upmarket with fresh underpinnings, new hybrid powertrains and revamped styling.

Hyundai has confirmed new details of a significant update for its Santa Fe flagship SUV, which brings a bold styling overhaul, fresh hybrid powertrains and an all-new platform in a bid to enhance the model’s premium appeal.

The seven-seater moves across to the ‘third-generation’ architecture, which already underpins the US-market Sonata sedan. The brand claims the new platform will offer “improved performance, efficiency and safety”.

Australian pricing and specifications are yet to be announced.

Headline features for the facelift include a new ventilation system that improves air movement through the engine bay, allowing heat to dissipate and improving the Santa Fe’s stability. Heavy components are also located lower in the chassis for a lower centre of gravity.

The SUV’s dynamic performance is also claimed to have been improved by relocating the steering arms, while reinforced sound- and vibration-absorption material throughout the chassis aids rolling refinement.

The 2020 Santa Fe will be available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains for the first time. It mates Hyundai’s new Smartstream 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a 44kW electric motor and a 1.49kW lithium ion battery to produce 169kW and 350Nm. Both front- and four-wheel-drive configurations are available.

The four-wheel-drive-only PHEV option will arrive on the market next year. Already deployed in the Santa Fe’s recently refreshed Kia Sorento sibling, it pairs the same 1.6-litre engine with a 67kW electric motor for a combined output of 195kW and 350Nm. Hyundai is yet to confirm a WLTP-certified electric-only range figure, but the Santa Fe PHEV’s 13.8kWh battery pack offers a claimed 64km per charge on the NEDC cycle.

Hyundai claims neither hybrid option loses out on passenger or load space, with the battery packs for each located under the front seats.

The new Smartstream petrol engine uses Hyundai’s newly developed Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, which is said to improve performance by 4 per cent, fuel efficiency by 5 per cent and emissions by 12 per cent over the outgoing 1.6-litre motor by varying how long the inlet and outlet valves remain open according to the driving situation. Also featured is a low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation function, which sends burnt gas back to the combustion chamber to cool the engine and reduce CO2 emissions.

A pure-combustion option will also be offered in the form of an upgraded version of the current car’s 2.2-litre diesel motor. Improvements include a reshaped camshaft, a higher-pressure injection system and a switch from a steel block to aluminum, resulting in a 19.5 per cent weight loss. Power – sent to either the front axle or all four wheels through a newly developed eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox – is up slightly from 147kW to 148kW, but torque output is unchanged at 441Nm.

The Santa Fe has been completely overhauled visually as well, bearing a bold new design that, Hyundai says, combines “rugged presence and sophistication”. It’s slightly larger all round than its predecessor, measuring 4785mm long, 1900mm wide and 1685mm tall.

The front grille, which has been significantly enlarged to span the entire width of the car, features a new 3D mesh pattern and is flanked by a pair of distinctive T-shaped daytime running lights. The lower air intake sits within a new skid plate, while vertically orientated side vents aim to strengthen the car’s “upright and robust impression”.

At the back, the Santa Fe has gained a new reflector bar that stretches between redesigned brake light clusters and a new lower bumper in the same style as the front end. The external redesign is finished off with wider wheel arches and new, aerodynamically optimised alloy wheel designs.

Inside, the new platform is said to allow for enhanced comfort and convenience over the outgoing car, with a focus on premium, soft-touch materials throughout.

The dashboard and centre console have been redesigned, and the current car’s infotainment touchscreen has been ditched for a new 10.25-inch unit as standard, while the analogue gauge cluster makes way for a new 12.3-inch digital unit.

The gear selector is gone, too, replaced by a shift-by-wire button arrangement on the new floating centre console and a rotary Terrain Mode selector, which sets the vehicle up for driving on surfaces such as sand, snow and mud.

There has been a focus on connectivity with this facelift and the new Santa Fe is compatible with Hyundai’s Bluelink software, which allows owners to locate their car, check its fuel level or unlock it remotely via a dedicated app. Smartphone mirroring is equipped as standard, as is an upgraded wireless phone charger, voice recognition functionality and Hyundai Live – which offers up-to-date traffic information, finds nearby fuel stations and can send sat-nav data to your phone to allow you to finish a journey on foot.

Safety features fitted as standard include adapative cruise control, blindspot collision warning, safe exit assist and lane-following assist. New for 2020 is a Highway Driving Assist function that uses sensors and map data to automatically adjust the car’s speed in certain environments, and Remote Smart Parking Assist, which can be used to move the Santa Fe out of a parking space before climbing aboard.

Also new for 2020 is a top-rung Luxury trim aimed at “premium competitors”, bringing bespoke 20-inch alloy wheels and colour-matching bumper and wheel-arch trim, rather than the black items found on lower-spec cars. Three different exterior colours are available, as is a choice of five interior colours.

Andreas-Christoph Hoffman, vice-president of marketing and product at Hyundai Motor Europe, said: “With the range of new features, the new Santa Fe further progresses as a premium vehicle. It once again shows that we are listening to our customers and are constantly providing the latest features to serve their needs.

“This is also the case regarding our powertrain line-up. With the introduction of the new Santa Fe, our whole SUV line-up will be available with electrified versions ranging from hybrid solutions to fuel cell.”

The new Santa Fe will go on sale in Australia in the second half of this year, with prices to be confirmed nearer the time.

Felix Page

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