The Tour de France comes to Yorkshire this summer and I took the Hyundai Santa Fe for a spin over one of the most demanding parts of the course. Will it be a tour de force in the burgeoning SUV market?
When Hyundai unveiled the new generation Santa Fe at the back end of 2012 the Korean manufacturer promised a major step up from its predecessor.
The first impression you get from the new look Santa Fe is just how imposing it is. It’s a formidable beast.
In terms of the exterior design, it is a major step change from the previous generation.
It has got the look that all SUV manufacturers are looking for. Cool. Classy. Dynamic.
The model I was testing - the Premium - features 18 inch alloy wheels, chrome effect door handles, chrome coloured grille, rear spoiler, and roof rails.
Inside, the Premium model offers luxury, space, and technology.
The first thing that hits you when you climb inside is the sheer amount of space.
So much space in fact that you might want to call a cab to get from near side of the car to the off side.
Even with both front seats at their furthest back point, there’s still plenty of room in the back for even a Harlem Globetrotter to stretch his gangley legs.
Further back there are two extra seats which can very easily be put down or back up again allowing for 5 seat or 7 seat configuration.
When the back two seats are down there is plenty of room in the boot even for two boisterous dogs to be comfortable.
Up front the Santa Fe Premium is loaded with tech and some very useful little features.
At the centre of it all is a seven inch colour LCD touchscreen Satellite Navigation system.
The Premium model also boasts a rear view parking camera and parking guidance system, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, cruise control, dual climate control, heated front seats, USB and aux connections, and a premium sound system.
There is plenty of storage space between seats, inside doors, and in the backs of seats, and there is even a little compartment for your sunglasses, which I loved.
So, the Santa Fe Premium scores high when it comes to style, luxury, and comfort, but that’s no good if it drives like a lemon.
Fortunately, its performance matches all its other excellent attributes.
The 2.2 litre diesel engine offers plenty of grunt, and the automatic transmission on the model I was testing shifted through the gears in a way that makes it as frugal as possible for a car of this size and performance.
I drove part of the toughest section of the Yorkshire leg of the Tour (on the outskirts of Sheffield), and whereas the peloton will be struggling up these steep, narrow windy roads in July, the four wheel drive Santa Fe cruised up them effortlessly.
But it’s not just off the beaten track where it is fun to drive this car, it handles well everywhere. It is an oft-used phrase but it really is a joy to drive.
I also took the Santa Fe on a day out to Wembley for the FA Cup semi final and the car’s handy features and performance helped to take a lot of the stress out of driving a long distance on a very busy motorway.
The new generation 2.2 litre diesel engine delivers up to 46.4mpg, thrusts the car from 0.60 in a touch over 10 seconds, and gives it a top speed of 118mph.
The automatic Premium model I was testing has an OTR price of £32,530, and entry model Santa Fe is available for £26,000.
There can’t be many other cars in the new generation Santa Fe’s class that offer a combination of this much style, this much comfort, and this much performance for such a good price.
It’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Hyundai Santa fe Premium (automatic)
Price: £32,350 OTR
Engine: 2.2 litre diesel
0-60: 10.1 seconds
Top speed: 118mph
Max power: 194bhp