To steal a line from the advertising industry, "when you're on a good thing, stick to it". So it is that Hyundai have taken the lead from the success of the Tucson City and in completing the Santa Fe range have opted to introduce a more powerful petrol engine into a vehicle that is offered only as a two-wheel drive. The 3.3-litre V6 joins the 2.7-litre V6 and 2.2-litre common rail turbo diesel in Santa Fe. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the more powerful V6 is only offered in a 2WD?version. This is explained by Hyundai sales and marketing chief Kevin McCann, who believes that customers want a more powerful urban vehicle "to get around quickly". The Santa Fe 3.3 V6 uses a higher output version of Hyundai's quad-cam all alloy V6 engine.
It produces a respectable 180kW of power at 6000rpm and 309Nm of torque at 3500rpm, driving the front wheels through Hyundai's five-speed Selectronic automatic transmission with adaptive control logic and sequential manual override. Acceleration is impressive, with the 3.3 V6 covering the 0-100km/h sprint in 8.7 seconds, and real world overtaking is effortless with a 60-100 km/h time of 4.3 seconds. Its broad torque band and tall gearing combine to give official fuel economy of just 10.7 litres/100km. Hyundai have also sharpened pricing across the nine model Santa Fe range, with the introduction of a base SX?trim level. The launch drive took in plenty of urban and semi rural roads, including a fair proportion of windy and steep hills south of Sydney - the type of terrain that typical urban customers are likely to encounter on a daily basis.
Acceleration is respectable and cruising city traffic is an effortless affair, with the Santa Fe comfortable and able to produce a fair burst of speed when required. Torque of 309Nm isn't earth shattering, but proved adequate in propelling the 1808kg Santa Fe. Even in steep hills, pulling power was good, without the engine overly labouring when pushed. Its torque band is impressive and the five speed Selectronic automatic transmission is a great partner. On the open road the Santa Fe cruised without effort and with moderate external noise provided a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience. New styling was introduced in May 2006 with the 2.7-litre all-wheel drive. This is carried over and remains sharp and contemporary. Santa Fe 3.3 V6 is offered in three trim levels - SX, SXL?and Elite in five and seven seat variants. All models feature the impressive 5-speed auto box.
The suspension has been re-tuned to better accommodate the lighter weight of the drivetrain. Steering is crisp and direct and assists in making the Santa Fe a pleasant driving experience. In SX variant equipment levels are generous with standard air conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locking, cruise control with steering wheel controls leather steering wheel rim and shifter knob, 17-inch alloy wheels (and full size spare on all variants), tilt and adjust steering wheel, rear cargo blind, 33 storage places and face and feet air conditioning ducts for rear seat occupants. Santa Fe 3.3 is also among the safest vehicles available with standard ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and front driver and passenger airbags. The full Hyundai safety package unfortunately is only available in SLX?and Elite variants and adds the much vaunted Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, plus front seat thorax airbags and side and front rear side curtain airbags (extending to third row on the seven seat model).
SLX models also gain a cool box in the centre console, a four function trip computer, heated door mirrors, flip down convex in cabin mirror, 12 volt power plug and the availability of third row seats. The top of the range Elite model adds a power tilt/slide sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels , body coloured tailgate spoiler, leather seat facings, door trim and centre armrests, dual zone climate control, six disc AAC/MP3/WMA audio with external amplifier and sub woofer, 10-way power front driver's seat, 4-way power front passenger seat, auto headlights on, digital compass and stamped, stainless steel door sill scuff plates.
The Santa Fe range
The new 3.3 V6 versions slot into a revamped nine model Santa Fe range which sees the original 2.7 litre 138kW V6 petrol model setting the value benchmark from $33,990 for the SX model, and $35,990 with Selectronic adaptive four-speed automatic. The Santa Fe CRDi turbo-diesel continues, the only change being the adoption of a seven seat layout on the Elite model, priced from $48,990. The SX CRDi manual and automatic remain unchanged at $36,990 and $39,490 respectively, as does the top selling, seven-seat SLX CRDi automatic at $43,490. "The 3.3 V6 completes the Santa Fe range, taking the performance of this SUV to new heights. With petrol and diesel models, plus two-wheel drive and AWD variants, there is now a Santa Fe to meet every SUV buyer's needs - from camping to commuting, and from towing to transporting soccer squads," said Kevin McCann, Hyundai's Director of Sales and Marketing.
Santa Fe rides on a purpose built unibody SUV platform with a 2700mm wheelbase. This chassis was specifically designed to deliver sedan-like ride and handling, without compromising the vehicle's off-road capabilities. Its MacPherson strut front suspension is configured with a caster angle of 4.4 degrees to give a stable feel and satisfying steering response. Under the rear is a sophisticated, low profile independent suspension module with upper wishbones and three lower links each side, which enables a low flat floor inside and class best third row passenger foot room. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs and fade-resistant gas filled dampers, while front and rear anti-roll bars help keep the vehicle flat during cornering. A stiff rear suspension sub-frame with large bush mountings isolates the body at all location points to minimise road noise transmitted into the cabin.
The Santa Fe 3.3 V6 puts its power through its front wheels, using Electronic Stability Control (ESP) and Traction Control System (TCS) to ensure refined and safe performance. Meanwhile Santa Fe 2.7 V6 and CRDi models share an electronically controlled on-demand AWD system which drives the front wheels in normal driving to conserve fuel. If incipient wheel spin is detected, the system immediately routes power to any of the four wheels to deliver optimum traction. A switchable 4WD Lock mode is provided for very slippery conditions, where 50/50 front to rear drive is maintained up to 30km/h but is protected by a TCB (Tight Corner Break) function if a grippy surface is encountered while turning. 4WD Lock is released above 40km/h on the assumption that satisfactory road traction is available - but if it isn't, then all-wheel-drive cuts in again immediately regardless of road speed.
Santa Fe's low profile, upper and lower arm independent rear suspension module permits a low, flat rear floor without suspension humps or wide wheelhouses. The result: Santa Fe's first and second row seats have ample head, leg and shoulder room, with spacious third row seat accommodation plus stowage of a full size alloy spare wheel. Santa Fe's separate third row chairs, both of which fold flat into the floor, can be used to seat one and stow extra cargo room adjacent. To aid third row entry and exit in seven-seat models, the second row seat cushion folds forward and down - kerb-side only - to deliver occupants safely to the pavement (rather than into the path of passing traffic). Head restraints need not be removed, nor the front seat slid forward.
The centre row seats are split 60/40 and not only do the backrests fold almost flat for long loads or sleeping, they have 12 rake angle positions (11 in seven-seater models) to maximise comfort or load space. Maximum in-cabin load length is 2.18m along the left side behind the left front seat or 2.46m diagonally. Maximum cargo width at 1.39m will stow a stack of golf bags while Santa Fe's space between its rear wheel arches exceeds its rivals. Cargo volume aft of the front seats is a cavernous 2213 litres, with 969 litres behind the second row. While the Santa Fe 3.3 V6 certainly has the goods for urban touring, the CRDi Santa Fe is a more frugal performer, returning 7.3-litre/100kms and with 343Nm of torque is the preferred towing vehicle. All turbo-diesel models are equipped with AWD.The Santa Fe range continues to impress, being well built, has a quality feel (despite some interior surfaces) and offers great accommodation, economy and equipment levels.
Specifications: Hyundai Santa Fe 3.3 V6
Bore &?Stroke: 92 x 83.8mm
Compression ratio: 10.4:1
Max. Power: 180kW @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque: 304Nm @ 3500 rpm
Acceleration: 0-100km/h 8.7 seconds
Type: 5 speed automatic with electronic sequential manual mode. HiVec - adaptive to driver style, with overdrive and lockup torque converter
Gear ratios: 1st 3.789
Final drive: 3.684
Power distribution: 100% front
Type: Front independent MacPherson strut with offset coil springs, anti-roll stabiliser bar. Rear independent coil springs, subframe-mounted upper wishbone and six lower links. Front and rear double acting telescopic gas shock absorbers.
Type: Power assisted, speed sensitive rack and pinion with steering wheel tilt and reach adjustment
Turning circle: 10.9 metres
Turns lock to lock: 3.24
Type: Dual diagonal, split circuit, power assisted with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. 4 channel ABS with EBD.
Braked - 1800kg; Unbraked 750kg
Dimensions: LxWxH: 4675x1890x17950mm
Fuel capacity: 75 litres
Upgraded Hyundai Santa Fe range
2.7 V6 AWD SX 5 seat 5-Spd Manual $33,990
2.7 V6 AWD SX 5 seat 4-Spd Auto $35,990
2.2 CRDi AWD SX 5 seat 5-Spd Manual $36,990
2.2 CRDi AWD SX 5 seat 5-Spd Auto $39,490
2.2 CRDi AWD SLX 7 seat 5-Spd Auto $43,490
2.2 CRDi AWD Elite 7 seat 5-Spd Auto $48,990
3.3 V6 2WD SX 5 seat 5-Spd Auto $37,990
3.3 V6 2WD SLX 7 seat 5-Spd Auto $46,490
Options: Metallic/Mica paint $350
All prices RRP only - excludes ORCs