Hyundai has put the brand new Santa Fe on display at the New York Motor Show, giving the world its first proper look at the car after a long campaign of teaser images and CGI.

Naturally it's a much more stylish car than its predecessor, using the 'Fluidic Sculpture' design language that gives a coherent, swoopy look to all modern Hyundais.

It's not surprising, given Hyundai's recent form, that the Santa Fe will be one of the best looking SUVs on the market when it goes on sale here at the end of this year.

It will eschew the current Hyundai naming convention and hold onto Santa Fe, rather than adopt a number with an 'ix' prefix. As with the Veloster coupé, this is to distinguish it as a bit special in the context of the rest of the range.

Two versions are on display in New York, with a slightly bulkier long-wheelbase seven-seat model sitting alongside the more compact five-seat variant; it's not clear whether we'll get the bigger car or not.


Hyundai has published a ream of technical detail on the Santa Fe, although the nitty gritty of the UK range is yet to be decided. We know, for example, that US buyers will get to choose between a 2.0-litre diesel with 148bhp, a 2.2-litre diesel with 198bhp, and a 2.4-litre petrol with 191bhp. However, it's highly unlikely that the petrol will come to the UK, because as we all know, petrol engined 4x4s are silly and pointless.

Two- and four-wheel drive versions will be sold, and a six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed automatic an option. Both gearboxes, says Hyundai, have a tall top ratio for economy; the lowest emitting Santa Fe puts out 145g/km CO2 (a front-wheel drive, manual 2.0-litre diesel), while at the other end, a four-wheel drive automatic 2.4 petrol spits out 206g/km. See...pointless.

Hyundai claims car-like dynamics from the Santa Fe, and has given it three-stage adaptable steering. Called Flex Steer, it changes steering feel from comfort (light) through sport (heavy). Unlike some high-end 4x4s, however, the Santa Fe doesn't come with adaptable suspension anywhere in the range.

We are promised a suspension and handling setup that's been tuned specifically for UK roads. Which means rubbish ones.

It's lower than its predecessor, but longer and wider, so it looks slicker while offering more room - both front and rear knee room have been increased by about four centimetres, and Hyundai is claiming its 534-litre boot is class-leadingly large.

The company is also claiming a massive improvement in cabin quality, which we have no reason not to believe, especially in light of the new i40's interior. As you can see from the image comparison below, the new Santa Fe's cabin has leapt an aesthetic mile...




No word on pricing yet, but expect it to pick up where the iX35 ends, around the £25,000 mark.