Though Hyundai Motor had a slightly unpleasant experience in the US market when it first entered in the 1980s, it has still regarded that market as being an important one. In fact, so important is it that some of its models have been named after places in the country.
The Santa Fe SUV is one of them, and for the digital world premiere of the new generation, the carmaker chose to use the region in New Mexico from which the name was taken as a backdrop.
This is the fifth generation of the midsize SUV since it joined the Hyundai range in 2000. As with other models, it has evolved over the years and this time, it has certainly made a major design change which moves the Santa Fe a notch up.
‘Open for More’ concept
Unusually, the ‘Open for More’ concept used by the designers conveys the model’s radical transformation which is centred on its new wide tailgate. This is an area which has been highlighted and it is from the enlarged tailgate area that the designers moved on to design the exterior.
The efficient boxy shape sits on a longer wheelbase which benefits the interior by allowing a terrace-like living space with enhanced third-row seating. The straight forms match the H-shaped headlamps while having sharply-defined fenders. Together with the high bonnet, the new Santa Fe makes a stronger first impression than before.
Horizontal and vertical design elements
The interior contrasts with the exterior by emphasizing horizontal and vertical design elements and matching the tone and mood of the exterior. An H-shaped design is applied to the dashboard and air vents to enhance the sense of openness and create a unique design balance.
With the longer wheelbase, the second and third-row seats can be folded to create a terrace-like space at the rear with the wider tailgate open. This will allow better connection with the outside world, a desire which Hyundai Motor’s researchers learnt of from analysis of big data. This identified customers’ interest in the latest outdoor lifestyle trends such as car camping and gear-intensive adventures.
Eco-friendly materials are used throughout for soft surfaces like the headliner, mats, seatbacks and coverings, as well as the door trim and seats. In particular, the leatherette seats are made of materials that minimize human health hazards and are certified as Class 1 in Europe (safe for infants up to 3 years old).
The use of eco-friendly materials extends to the exterior as well. The glossy black paint applied to the exterior trim uses recycled carbon materials. Among the exterior colours, the Ecotronic Gray for North American markets uses a natural bamboo charcoal coating method.
Useful convenience features include a UV-C Sterilization Tray and dual wireless charging system for smartphones. The new Santa Fe also has a first-in-class Panoramic Curved Display that integrates the 12.3-inch digital cluster and infotainment system.
When the rear view is obstructed by items in the cargo area, the camera-based Digital Centre Mirror allows the driver to see what is happening behind the vehicle. It also helps the driver to better see the darker rear view at night with a brighter image.
The new Santa Fe has the world’s first Bilateral Multi-Console storage space that can be opened by both front and rear passengers.
Class-lading cargo volume
The exterior proportions hint of generous cargo space and the 725-litre capacity (91 litres more than before) is said to be class-leading. The tailgate width has been extended to 1275 mm, which is 145 mm wider than before. This necessitated having the tail light units at a lower level as the usual area on the sides became too narrow.
The powertrain options depend on the region. For Korea and North America, there will be a 2.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine (Theta III) and a 1.6-litre turbocharged hybrid petrol powertrain (Gamma III 1.6T GDI).
European buyers have a choice of the Gamma III 1.6T GDI hybrid or a Gamma III 1.6T GDI PHEV. In other regions, the 2.5-litre Theta III petrol engine will be offered.
The new Santa Fe will first be released in Korea later this year, followed by North America/Europe in the first half of next year.