Hyundai: 2015 Santa Fe Elite diesel review

Hyundai: 2015 Santa Fe Elite diesel review

For nearly a decade I’ve been covering the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, where Hyundai New Zealand has established a huge presence in the form of their VIP parking area and marquee, as well as being the exclusive vehicle supplier to the agribusiness event.

2015 Santa Fe Elite rear 3:4While the vehicles may be South Korean, the distributor and the dealer network are 100% New Zealand owned, and both are determined that the brand becomes part of the rural culture here.

This year through a bit of good luck and management I managed to arrange to drive the 2015 Series II Santa Fe Elite diesel during the Fieldays week, and was 2015 Santa Fe Elite interiorable to avail myself of the complimentary VIP parking and golf cart transfers to the marquee that the local distributor provides to its customers and special guests.

It was interesting to note that not only does the VIP car park grow in size every year, it also seems to have more and more Santa Fe and ix35 SUV models parking in 2015 Santa Fe Elite reverse camerait, no doubt a reflection of the popularity of small and medium size SUV models amongst new car buyers which is currently running at a 30% share of the market this year.


The current series of Santa Fe was introduced to New Zealand in March 2013, so for 2015 the Series II model introduces a revised front grille and some 2015 Santa Fe Elite third seat rowsubtle styling tweaks in the cabin.

There are four levels of specification available to diesel Santa Fe buyers, theres an automatic 5 seat car from $63,990, an automatic 7-seat car from $65,990, an automatic Elite 7-seat car as tested from $73,990, and the top of the line Elite Limited 7-seat car from $79,990.

Our Elite 7-seat test car came with a 2015 Santa Fe Elite rear seats foldednumber of features that would be expected at this price point, being satellite navigation, keyless entry and start, leather upholstery, heated front seats, daytime running lights, cornering lamps, privacy glass, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, electrically heated and folding mirrors, electrically operated drivers and front passenger seat, automatic dual climate control air conditioning with 2015 Santa Fe Elite side profileoutlets for the third row, electronic park brake, and three adjustable modes for the power steering.

The satellite navigation system (which also provides real time traffic information updates) is driven through the 7-inch 2015 Santa Fe Elite front grilletouchscreen, which also controls the audio and bluetooth functions.

For those folks who need it, a step up to the top of the range Elite Limited will provide HID xenon headlamps with washers and auto levelling, windscreen de-icers, and a full panoramic glass sunroof which is electrically operated.


The Hyundai designed and built four-2015 Santa Fe Elite rear hatchcylinder 2.2-litre R-series turbo diesel engine has been around since 2008, and it remains a Euro V compliant unit which has been used in the Santa Fe and other Hyundai passenger vehicles in Europe and Australasia.

It’s still quietly impressive, the 2199cc unit puts out 145kW of power at 3800rpm, and torque of 436Nm from 1800rpm, which is transmitted to the road through a six-speed adaptive automatic transmission which is also built by Hyundai.

2015 Santa Fe loaded upFuel efficiency is quoted at 7.3L/100km and C02 emissions are 192g/km. On the return trip to Mystery Creek we managed an average of 7.8L/100km using cruise control on the heavily policed state highway.

The all-wheel drive system normally operates as front-drive but instantly engages to 4WD with up to a 50:50 torque split when conditions warrant. It can also be manually locked into AWD when crawling along the really tough stuff at speeds of less than 40 kmh.


Its been a while since I’ve driven a Santa Fe and I have to say the cosmetic tweaks for 2015 were so subtle I didn’t really notice them.

The quality of the cabin appointments is first class, as you would expect from a vehicle at this price point. Hyundai interiors are no longer cheap and cheerful in execution, they are now on a par with Toyota and in a few years time I expect they will be the equivalent of Lexus.

Every stitch on the leather upholstery is perfect, and all of the plastics inside the Santa Fe have a nice texture to them and the shut lines and dashboard mouldings are perfectly snug, and nothing rattles. There’s been a huge attention to detail and quality by the South Korean manufacturer, which would explain why the vehicles popularity has increased amongst New Zealanders.

There are more than enough cupholders, bottle holders, and storage cubbies to cope with the amount of flotsam and jetsam of everyday family life.

Heated seats in my opinion should be mandatory in all vehicles. The units in the Santa Fe work brilliantly well, yet you never seem to get uncomfortably hot. On our trip from Auckland to the Waikato and back they provided additional warmth and comfort which was appreciated after a day of walking in the wet and cold around Mystery Creek.

If you’ve never driven a Hyundai before, all the switchgear and dials are fairly intuitive to use, and the multifunction steering-wheel allows the driver to manage the music, Bluetooth phone calls, flex steer system, cruise control, and on the Elite it also allows you to manage the satellite navigation.


A testament to the quality of the design and build of the Santa Fe, was the complete absence of dust entering the cabin while we were driving along a dusty back-country rural road, during an unexpected detour.

I can see this feature alone being a huge seller to rural dwellers who live well off the beaten track.

On the tarmac the Santa Fe is a very pleasant companion. Ride quality and comfort over most road surfaces is excellent despite the vehicle wearing 18-inch alloy rims and 235/60 tyres. A full size alloy wheel and tyre is provided as a spare, none of this inflator kit nonsense!

Its a fairly benign handler as you would expect from a 7-seat family wagon, the combination of McPherson strut front suspension with an independent rear set up, provides sure-footedness.

You can hustle the Santa Fe along a winding road at a fairly decent pace without upsetting the occupants in the second and third row of seats.

The acid test of any family vehicle is a trip to the weekly Rugby game, and the Santa Fe passed the load lugger test with flying colours.

With the third row of seats folded the boot (only four occupants were travelling) provides 516 litres of space, and easily swallowed my 96-litre chilly bin, a huge kit bag full of rugby jerseys, a large first aid kit and two drink bottle carriers, as well as a number of gym bags brought along by the three passengers.


When the third generation Santa Fe hit the market in March 2013, Hyundai New Zealand were caught on the back foot with demand outstripping supply at first, the waiting list for an Elite diesel model stretched out to three months, but customers were determined to wait it out rather than buy another vehicle.

Such was the instant popularity of Santa Fe globally, production of right-hand-drive cars could not meet demand but thankfully that issue has eased somewhat.

I can understand why the third generation Santa Fe has become so popular amongst Kiwi buyers, particularly the Elite diesel. It’s frugal, comfortable, practical, and well appointed. It’s not cheap but that doesn’t seem to have deterred the punters, who obviously know they are onto a good thing.

Price as tested $73,990


  • Frugal and powerful diesel engine
  • Safe and versatile family vehicle
  • Good long distance cruiser


  • No luggage cover provided in 7-seat versions
  • Cruise control allows overrun on steep descents

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