Monday June 24th, 2013 – The all-new, Inokom Santa Fe was launched today in Malaysia. Assembled at the Inokom plant in Kulim, the Inokom Santa FE comes with the choice of a 2.4 litre gasoline engine or a 2.2 litre turbo diesel with VGT . Both the petrol and diesel version come with a choice of two trim levels, making a total of 4 choices for the customer.
Elsewhere in the world, the same vehicle is known as the Hyundai Santa Fe, and a select number of Malaysian Media were flown over to exotic Agadir, Morocco, for the Africa and Asia Pacific premiere of the vehicle in October last year.
The vehicle just launched today in Malaysia is visually the same as the one I saw and drove in Agadir, and the main specifications are much the same, except that some of the variants, such as FWD (Front Wheel Drive) are not available here, and neither is the 3.3 litre V6, which I understand is only for the Middle East countries.
The new body design is a vast visual improvement over the outgoing model, being less rounded, and the 7-seater configuration with the last row being fold-flats. With the two engine options, the Santa Fe will appeal to both gasoline and diesel users. On a personal level, I would predict that the diesel variant is going to gain more popularity, as the diesel boasts of a whopping 197 horsepower, and enormous 436 Nm of torque available in full from 1,800 through to 2,500 rpm. This makes the Santa Fe the most powerful SUV in its class.
The first driving impression was good, with me personally finding the handling to be very car-like, and the interior to be extremely quiet. Sharing a car with Hezeri Shamsuri of TopGear Malaysia, we are both in agreement on the many virtues of the Santa Fe – it is smooth, quiet, drives well, and handles much like a car, despite its additional height and size.
What we drove that day in Morocco was a gasoline 2.4 litre model, and it felt very nice to be in. Our route took us along the coast of Morocco, and in our usual adventurous style, we took it down a little used dirt path to try to take some pictures on a rocky beach. That was when we got stuck on some very loose, round rocks that were placed on soft sand. The rocks offered little or no grip, and it was then that we discovered that we were in a FWD model, hence the lack of traction. With no service crew in sight, it was just us against the elements, in this case, loose round boulders and sand – a little bit of imagination, and removing of some rocks that were blocking the front and rear wheels plus a little bit of ‘rocking’ the Santa Fe by intermittently putting it in forward and reverse gear got us out of a potentially ‘sticky’ situation.
After that, we did take it off road, but this time we kept on the landward side, to explore the many dirt tracks that wound up into the barely vegetated mountain sides.
The 2.4 litre gasoline engine provides good power for the Santa Fe; we did not get the opportunity to drive the diesel version, so we will have to get one form the local distributors here for a test later.
Having said that, I have driven the previous version of the Santa Fe here, and I was quite happy with it at that time. It is my understanding that the engine is a ‘carry-over’ form the previous model, and since that engine has been in operation in the outgoing model for some time, it should be all right. If nothing else, the new looks will make the diesel Santa Fe that much more alluring, because the old rounded shape really did nothing for me at all, despite the mechanical advantages.
Since the launch of the 1st generation model in Africa and Asia Pacific, the Santa Fe has proven highly popular for its practicality and reliability, and the new model adds style, innovation and premium quality to the mix. Global sales have so far topped 2.5 million, and Hyundai is confident that the all-new, 3rd generation Santa Fe will win many new customers to the brand; I am in total agreement with that.
In Africa and Asia Pacific, the stylish SUV is set up to up the bar for its competitors. In particular, it is expected to prove popular with young families whose primary requirement is for a stylish and practical car to take on everyday life in an urban environment.
Following Hyundai’s new ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design philosophy, the all-new Santa Fe features a unique interpretation called “Storm Edge”. This captures the strong and dynamic shapes created by nature during the formation of a storm. The design implements the trademark Hyundai hexagonal grille used in most of its new line-up, creating a futuristic and urban-style SUV image. The interior design is equally bold and modern, especially in the front where the dashboard and centre console exude a finish akin to that of a luxury modern sedan.
The all-new Santa Fe is a ‘Modern Premium’ car in every way, and sets new standards of luxury and comfort in the class. In addition to the use of high quality materials throughout the cabin, including the option of full leather upholstery, the new model will ensure a comfortable journey for occupants whatever the region’s climate throws at it, with state-of-the-art manual or automatic air conditioning as standard and even the option of a glove box cooler.
Families will appreciate the remarkable versatility of the all-new Santa Fe, which also offers class-leading amounts of leg-room. The second row seats can slide, recline and split-fold to offer a wide range of seating set-ups, while two additional foldaway seats in the boot can also be specified. The luggage compartment itself has two neat storage areas under the floor and provides a huge 585 litres of storage space.
And with families in mind, Hyundai has ensured that the all-new Santa Fe is one of the safest vehicles in the market. Cutting-edge active safety systems include Electronic Stability Control, a Hillstart Assist Control system that prevents the vehicle from rolling when on an incline, as well as a Brake Assist System, which increases braking pressure in an emergency situation. In addition to a Traction Control System, Vehicle Stability Management is available on top-of-the-range models and promotes stable car manoeuvring when the car may be liable to skidding.
The all-new Santa Fe will be available in a sporty five seat form, with the option of two fold-down seats in the boot. A long-wheelbase version with three proper rows of seats will go on sale in 2013, according to a release at that time, but I don’t know if that will come to Malaysia.
The new Malaysian model will offer a choice of two powerplants: a 2.4l 4-cylinder unit delivering 176 bhp and maximum torque of 227 Nm and a 2.2l diesel engine providing up to 197bhp and 421 Nm(MT, AT : 436Nm) of torque. Customers n Malaysia will all have 4WD, and automatic transmissions.
All things said and done, I am of the opinion that the Inokom Santa Fe is worth a visit to the Hyundai showroom to have a look at, and perhaps a test drive too. I would take a serious look at the diesel model, purely form a driver’s perspective, because it offers a promise of fun driving, plus it will be kind to your pocket as well.