First deliveries of the new Santa Fe SUV begin on 15 October 2012 and they cannot come soon enough for Hyundai.
The original model was one of the most strongly associated with Hyundai and brought popular SUV attributes to the mass market with the reassurance of a strong warranty.
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The new third-generation includes the first 2WD model and this will open up new markets for Hyundai, including business sales.
For the new version there is a completely different look to the car both inside and out. There's new body work and interior with a strong emphasis on giving it a premium look with LED lighting, flowing lines, high equipment levels and better driving dynamics.
Prices start from £25,495 for the 2.2-litre CRDi Style 2WD model and the most expensive of the 12 models over three trim levels is the 2.2 CRDi 7 seat 4WD automatic at £34,395.
Over the next 12 months Hyundai anticipates selling 4,300 Santa Fe.
Engines, specifications and equipment
The New Generation Santa Fe has a familiar but updated 197PS, 2.2-litre CRDi engine matched to six-speed manual or automatic transmissions and choice of 2WD or 4WD which give CO2 emissions between 155gkm and 159gkm in manual form or 178gkm with the automatic.
Engineers have tuned the Santa Fe suspension with firmer dampers to cope with UK road surfaces and there are a variety of stability systems, including a programme to make towing safer and hill start assist.
Three trim levels continue with a choice of five or seven-seats in Style, Premium and Premium SE, but the trim levels are impressive from the outset and include self-levelling suspension on the seven-seat models, air conditioning, voice recognition Bluetooth, adjustable weight electric steering.
As you move up get touchscreen navigation, parking camera, powered driver's seat, big sunroof and keyless entry. Seven seat derivatives are about £1,200 dearer than the five-seat models.
It is also the first Hyundai to have a pedestrian friendly bonnet which 'cushions' upon impact. There is more room inside than in the previous version with a minimum of 582-litres of luggage space and over 1,600-litres maximum while it's slightly longer and wider than before but also lower.
The Santa Fe is backed by Hyundai's 5 Year Triple Care package covering unlimited mileage warranty, roadside assistance and vehicle health checks.
Improved safety and repair technologies also mean considerable reductions in insurance premiums with the latest series over the outgoing models.
The new design has brought the Hyundai Santa Fe bang up to date with rivals.
It looks more rounded and dynamic even when parked and the interior is a big step up from the previous generation. Controls are better laid out and everything is within easy reach of the driver.
I liked the low loading rear floor with its fold down pair of back seats but raising them would severely restrict luggage space. Used five-up, the room inside is good, even for those in the middle row of three seats.
Although it has less absolute power than before, the revised engine gives very smooth acceleration thanks to the revised fuel injection, the automatic box produced seamless changes up and down, and it turned and stopped with ease and assurance.
The UK-tuned suspension is slightly firm in its damping but it handled well as a result and over a mildly challenging off-road course it admirably coped with grassy hills and crossing ditches.
The new Santa Fe does a lot in a compact package just 4,690mm in length and it will not only delight existing owners but also with its improved packaging and running costs it is a sounder financial proposition than many rivals and is likely to bring new customers to the brand who will not be disappointed at what they find.
Santa Fe 2.2 Premium SE Auto 4WD 7-seat
2.2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel, 194bhp, 436Nm (320lb ft) from 1,800rpm, 6-speed automatic.
41.5mpg (37mpg on test), 118mph, 0-62mph 10.1 seconds, CO2 178g/km, VED road tax £325 first year rate then £215 second year onwards.
BIK company car tax:
Maximum braked towing weight:
Seating for up to seven passengers, huge load space if rearmost seats are folded away, low loading height for the rear floor, versatile on or off road, mechanical refinement, low running costs for a large SUV.
Rear visibility, luggage room with third row of seats in use.