I was excited to hear about the Hyundai Santa FE SR a couple of months ago when it was released, so when I picked up the keys I was hugely interested to see whether Hyundai had been able to put some Sport into an SUV.
From the outside SR is certainly a damn fine looking car, I mean I’m a fan of the regular Santa Fe’s looks but the SR with its slightly lowered stance Matte black Oz Racing Alloy wheels and body kit, red callipers from the Brembo brakes really takes it to another level.
On the inside there’s no different from the highlander model but that’s not bad as it comes fully equip with leather trim, heated and cooled front seats, heated middle row seats, panoramic glass roof and plenty of storage places.
I love the look of the interior design in the Santa Fe and the cabin materials and fit and finish seemed to be good as well.
The front seats are comfortable and supportive but I would of liked a touch more side bolstering.
The leather bound multi function steering wheel is comfortable to hold and comes with reach and rake adjustments combine that with the electric seat adjustment and it’s extremely easy to find the perfect driving position.
The Instrument panel is easy read in any light and features and LCD screen flanked by a speedo and tacho.
The centre stack is home to the multimedia system which I found easy to use and came with Sat Nav and full Bluetooth connectivity which by the way is one of the quickest system I’ve sampled as far connecting your phone. I did find the sound from audio system quite good as well.
The rear seat is comfortable and offers plenty of legroom and a heating function for those cold days, third row seating has adequate legroom and there were no complaints from my teenage daughter who enjoyed spending time there.
Boot space is a very reasonable 516 litres which stretches to 1615L with the seats folded.
Under the bonnet the SR is powered by same 2.2L turbo diesel you find in the rest of the Santa Fe range rated at 145kW and 436Nm of torque.
While the engine does suffer from the same low down oomph you find on most turbo diesels the engine is quite a good performer and is extremely tractable and will easily keep up with traffic even with 7 people on board.
Fuel economy was not bad at all, I returned figures of 10.3L/100km for the week I had it now while it’s not the most efficient SUV I’ve reviewed it actually returned better figures then some smaller cars I’ve driven over the same trip.
On the road is where the big difference between the SR and the rest of Santa Fe range is, Hyundai has fettled the SR with lowered and firmer H&R performance springs.
Now while I did feel sharp bumps a bit more, the lower suspension more than makes up for it during cornering where the SR sits more flatter.
The 3 mode adjustable steering gives you the option of adjusting the steering your driving conditions and style. Comfort mode offers the lightest feel and while I wasn’t as keen driving it in that mode, I normally switched to that mode entering a car park as it made it easy to wheel around and park.
Normal mode firms up the weight a bit and is a compromise between Comfort and the third mode Sport and offered the perfect weight for me during normal everyday driving.
Sport mode firmed up the steering more and while the weight might be touch much for everyday driving was great when you wanted to explore the wonderful sports suspension.
Over all I found the steering offered a great amount of feel, crisp turn in and more grip though part of that can be attributed to the Michelin tyres Hyundai has shod the SR with.
The braking was extremely good thanks to the brembo brakes and there was no noticeable fade even after tackling a few sections.
Safety wise the SR has received a 5 star safety rating and features a long list of safety features including 7 airbags, ESC, control, lane departure warning, rear parking sensors while the addition of a reversing camera means it receives top marks from me in the safety stakes.
So after a week I came away extremely impressed with the Santa Fe SR and I want to give massive props to Hyundai for bringing out something a little different and putting some Sport back into Sport Utility Vehicle.
The Santa Fe offers you plenty of room, a long equipment list and a list of safety features as long as your arm.
While I enjoyed the firmer suspension some people might not like it as much as the regular Santa Fe, the other problem is with the power suspension you have to be touch careful not to scrape the bumper coming out of some drive ways, something you don’t have to worry about in the regular model.
The Santa Fe puts the cat amongst the pigeons in its class and certainly makes a great choice for somebody that needs a seven seater but also wants a touch sportiness as well.
For more info on the Santa Fe SR, the rest of the Santa Fe range check out Hyundai’s website www.hyundai.com.au
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe SR
Price: From $59,990
Engine: 2.2L 4 cylinder turbo diesel Power: 145kW – 436Nm torque
Transmission: 6 speed automatic
Sports body kit includes front spoiler, side skirts and race style rear diffuser.
19 inch OZ Racing wheels and performance Michelin tyres, Brembo brakes.
Australian-tuned dynamics incorporate H&R Performance springs.
12-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, Heated and ventilated front seats, Heated second row seats, Rear-door sunshades.
Twin-panel, auto-closing panoramic glass roof.
Dual zone climate control air con (with vents on all three rows).
Automatic dusk sensing HID Xenon headlights, LED Daytime running lights, Rain-sensing wipers.
Front and rear parking sensors, Rear-view camera.
7” Touch screen satellite-navigation system, Bluetooth iPod connectivity, 10-speaker premium audio system.
Proximity smart key with push-button start, Power tailgate with hands-free opening.