This is the all-new 3rd generation Santa Fe. It was unveiled to the world at the New York Auto Show in 2012. Where the older Santa Fe looked boring, the 2013 model wears modern, fluidic clothes. The crossover SUV will be powered by the same 4 cylinder 2.2L DOHC common-rail diesel as the outgoing generation. The engine has 194 BHP & 422 Nm of torque on tap. Drivetrain options will include 6-speed manual & automatic transmissions and FWD or AWD layouts. Hyundai will be launching the 7-seat Santa Fe in India (also available as a 5-seater internationally). With the Indian market, the more the number of seats, the better! Reports suggest that overall quality is vastly improved and decidedly more premium. As is the case with all Hyundai cars, expect a soft suspension that focuses on ride comfort rather than driving dynamics. Unlike body-on-frame SUVs such as the Fortuner, the Santa Fe has a monocoque construction.
The new Santa Fe carries a 5-star NCAP safety rating and a full list of safety equipment including ESP, 7 airbags, ABS, hill start assist etc. We can safely predict a blitzkrieg of features such as electric seats, xenon headlamps, daytime running lights, keyless start & go, electric parking brake, dual-zone climate control, rear-conditioning, parking camera, 6-speaker entertainment system with amplifier & subwoofer and more. The Santa Fe gets one-touch-folding rear seats like the new Honda CR-V.
Sales of the currently sold Santa Fe have been poor with a monthly sales average of merely 55 units (August 2012 – January 2013 period). Hyundai has been importing the Santa Fe as a CBU since September 2010, attracting high import taxes that result in a steep price tag. The ageing design doesn’t help either. Hopefully, the company decides to assemble the new Santa Fe at its Chennai factory and launches the SUV at a more competitive price. Segment leader – the Toyota Fortuner – has maintained a sales average of a whopping 1,300 units for the last 6 months. The Santa Fe has neither the brand pull of Toyota SUVs, nor the aspirational value of a BMW X1 or Audi Q3.
With the fluidic Verna, Hyundai climbed to the top of the C2 segment for the 1st time. The new Elantra has emerged as the market leader among D2 segment sedans. However, the Sonata flopped, partly due to the lack of a diesel engine. It will be interesting to see if the Santa Fe is aggressively positioned and how the market reacts to it.