The Hyundai Santa Fe has a few ‘alarming’ issues but remains an excellent SUV

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Most of my niggles with the Santa Fe have revolved around the warning systems that trigger bells and chimes with annoying frequency. It is, without doubt, one of the ‘nanny state’ cars.

But I suppose even I would get used to its funny little ways with time – maybe there’s even a way to disengage that ‘boot closing’ double chime.

Regardless, there is a lot to like about the Santa Fe. It looks well enough, comes loaded with standard equipment and is reasonably economical too (just a shame there is only one engine choice).

There’s also a lot of space and you can spec it up with an extra two seats in the boot too. And while the steering can be vague, the big Hyundai is sprightly enough and returns decent mpg.

This is all backed up by Hyundai’s excellent, five-year, unlimited mileage warranty – definitely not to be sniffed at. It’s a little on the pricey side but overall, this has to be one of the best large SUVs out there.

 

When less is more for driving enthusiasts… those gadgets and gizmos you don’t need

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So I spent some of this afternoon looking at a Porsche 993 Targa. The last of the air cooled 911s have shot up in value and I like the idea of driving one again – 19 years after the launch in Austria.

What amazed me was how basic the 911 was back then. And equally, how delightful. No alarms, no warning lights, no stress – just get in, shut the door with a hefty clunk and off you go.

Of course, you can’t say that about the Santa Fe – or many other modern cars. You only have to fart and the dashboard lights up with warning signs. Depressing.

I know safety is our prime concern these days but I think I actually drive better without all the modern gizmos and driving aids we have come to rely on. And the Santa Fe has more than its fair share…

More beeping nonsense from the Hyundai’s self-closing boot lid

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When was the last time you opened the boot, forgot to move out of the way and got whacked in the face? Erm, probably never, right?

So why do I need a two beep warning that the boot is opening on my Hyundai Santa Fe? I mean, is it just me or do other people out there despair that we’ve got to a point in this over protective society where we need to be reminded that two seconds ago, we opened a slow moving boot lid?

And it’s the same when I stop the car – why do I need to be warned that the sunroof is still open – what’s the worst that could happen?

We had none of this type of nonsense in 1990s cars, who decided we need I now. Perhaps it’s time we all drove a stripped out Caterham 7 again and reminded ourselves what we actually need in a car – and what we don’t…

How to avoid being decapitated by that ‘killer’ Hyundai tailgate…

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I can’t find much wrong with the Santa Fe – it does everything pretty well and only the power tailgate is proving a pain. There are two annoying beeps before it slowly starts to open or close on its own.

The beep is, of course, for people who can’t see and may not realise the boot is about to randomly swallow them whole, or push them over backwards! It moves so slowly you long for a manual over-ride. And what are blind people doing driving cars anyway?

Otherwise, the Hyundai does everything it says on the tin. Three rows of seats, acres of space and a lot of luxury kit – except the leather feels more Aldi than Waitrose.

I’m loving the panoramic roof and the fact the front section opens makes it even better for some early summer sunshine. Just be warned, the summer could be over by June 6…

Motorists might like you more driving a Hyundai Santa Fe than a Porsche Cayenne

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The first decision you have to make when buying a 2015 Santa Fe is whether to go for the seven-seat version, or the five. The bigger model is nine inches longer and extra huge inside.

Our first car of the month is the larger model and, quite frankly, I’ve no idea what to do with all that space! Even Malin the Vizsla looks tiny in the luggage compartment. He’s so far back we need an intercom to communicate.

And what about the styling of this new 2015 model? Well, it’s pretty good. Not quite a Range Rover Sport but sleek, stylish and inoffensive. Unlike a Porsche Cayenne, people will actually let you out of a junction in this car.

It’s the same inside. This Premium model is packed with equipment – equally as good as SUVs costing £30,000 more. In fact, it probably has more.

So, if you can live with the badge – and why not? – the Santa Fe could be the bargain of the century for those looking for the ultimate all-rounder. Join us over the next seven days to find out if that’s true….

Sunday – Nitpicking

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Jeremy It’s not easy picking holes in an off-roader as good as the Discovery. Some UK car magazines now say the Hyundai Santa Fe (tested on Car Couture earlier this year) is the better machine – it’s certainly more affordable. But when it comes to grunt, secondhand value and all round ability, the Land Rover has the edge.

So what’s not to like about the Discovery? Well, styling is probably the most obvious. I actually think the shape is uncluttered and sharp but parked next to a Hyundai or a BMW X5, it has already started to look a little dated.

Then there is the fuel consumption. The V6 engine produces 255bhp and really gives the Discovery plenty of shove but it also soaks up the diesel. Officially, the Discovery returns 32mpg in the combined cycle but you will have to tread very lightly on the accelerator to get above 30mpg in the real world.

Other faults? Well, both Jessica and I constantly bash the paddle gearshifters on the steering column with our knuckles, which instantly puts the Discovery into manual mode when it is not required. The air con fan is rather harsh for a luxury vehicle and flattening the centre row of seats can be awkward.

Then I start to struggle!  This is a great machine – you pay a lot for the pleasure of owning one but the Discovery is still the one to beat for my money.

 

Friday – Best of the Bunch

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Jeremy I’ll be trying to head off for the Cotswolds early today before the Bank Holiday rush. The Sorento is already fully loaded and by dropping the rear two rows of seats, there is a cavernous boot space.

That’s the good side of being a big car. The downside is that the Sorento isn’t that nimble on winding country backroads. It feels ponderous and fidgety. Stick it on a motorway, however, and it will shift you and your family comfortably.

The 194bhp engine has enough grunt to carry a full load, although I think I would have preferred my Sorento with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox because I’m still struggling for smooth gear changes with the manual. You have to work the engine hard to get any real performance, not helped by the clunky gearbox.

Still, for the price, the Sorento represents excellent value for money. The Kia is definitely the best of the bunch if you are after a budget SUV capable of seating seven. Only the Hyundai Santa Fe can offer serious rivalry.

Wednesday – Ask A Policeman

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Jeremy  The policeman at the end of my road has been nagging me for ages to get hold of the latest Sorento. He’s owned his for five years and has, frankly, been far more excited about CarCouture’s latest arrival than me.

Now the latest version has been sat on my driveway for 24 hours, I am starting to understand just what he is raving on about. The new Sorento may be slightly more expensive that the previous model but it is an awful lot of car for £27,000.

There aren’t many full-size, seven-seat off-roaders about for the price and with the latest Kia styling both inside and out, Sorento represents great value for money.

Sorento is built on the same platform as the Hyundai Santa Fe, which we tested last month. Apart from the same mechanics, the bodyshell design states these are two distinctly different cars.The Santa Fe has a more streamlined front end, thanks to the Sorento’s more prominent bumper and inset fog lights. Sorento has a prettier back end, while there is little to choose from a side profile.

The key thing is that the policeman is in love with our Sorento already. Let’s see what he thinks tomorrow after I take him out for a drive…

Monday – From Unlikely Beginnings

Jeremy – About the same time my father acquired his second Datsun 120Y (not easy to own up to), Hyundai launched the Pony hatchback on an unsuspecting British public. It was Korea’s first mass-produced car and, thankfully, you won’t see many around today because the Pony never achieved classic status.

It was developed by George Turnbull – the former MD of Austin Morris – and a team of five other Brits hired by Hyundai. Styled in Italy by Giugiaro, it was instantly forgettable, apart from the headlights, which did a good impression of a Ford Capri.

That was 1982 and how times have changed. Hyundai Motor Group (which incorporates Kia) is now the world’s fourth largest car manufacturer. It operates the world’s largest car plant too. The Ulsan site can produce a staggering 1.6 million cars every year and employs 35,000 people.

Our third generation Santa Fe must be one of the best Hyundai models ever produced. In long wheelbase, seven-seat form it really is a masterclass of an SUV – a fact confirmed by huge sales in the USA, where they know their SUVs. You’re not getting German design standards on the inside but in terms of looks, value-for-money and equipment levels, I think you would be hard pushed to find a better option.

Fortunately, CarCouture has escaped the worst of the weekend snow so we can’t report on its 4×4 abilities. We have the Santa Fe for another couple of days, so you never know…