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New 7-seat Santa Fe oozing luxury and style

THE magnificent SUV you see before you is a ... Hyundai.

Yes, you read right, a Hyundai or to be more precise – the all-new Santa Fe.

Cover the badge on the nose and one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a Lexus or certainly a close competitor.

Open the door of this seven-seat giant and you'll be even more confused with wall to wall leather and a premium cabin that is sure to send a chill down the spines of its German rivals.

Yes, build quality are the new buzz words at the Korean car giant and they've really pulled out all the stops here.

Already a firm favourite with Irish drivers, the latest offering is practically unrecognisable from its older brother.

It gets a more rugged, chunkier masculine look with deeper chrome slatted grille which is complimented by snazzy daytime running lights and LED scooped fog lamps.

The new chassis, although the same sized wheelbase of the old model (2.7metres) is lower (45mm), longer (40mm) and wider (5mm) – all sitting on very sexy 17 inch alloys.

There is oceans of room onboard and a clever seating system means that carrying most loads shouldn't be a problem.

The last set of seats fold flat into the floor and because all pews can be dropped down individually, stressed out parents can eliminate the dreaded ‘middle’ section giving a 2+2+2 arrangement.

But it’s inside where the most dramatic changes have taken place. The cabin has a much more premium feel to it and the combination of leather, soft touch plastics and smatterings of chrome are more what you'd expect in a luxury limo.

But it's the quality and finish of every switch, button and dial which enhances the whole experience.

It's loaded with goodies too with standard kit including; leather multi-function steering, Bluetooth, cruise control with speed limiter, air con, colour reversing camera, automatic folding mirrors and glove box cooler.

STABILITY

Safety-wise all models come with ESP (electronic stability control), VDC (vehicle dynamic control) Downhill brake assist, Hill start assist, Trailer Stability and tow bar wiring.

Powering the new Santa Fe is a punchy 2.2litre 197bhp diesel engine which surprisingly is returning a very decent 46mpg.

Drive and handling is comfortable and this big bus is more than capable on motorways and around town and although the steering is light, it could do with being a bit more engaging.

We’re glad to see the indicator stalk has been moved to the right hand side also.

It has pretty impressive green credentials with emissions of 147g/km and just 149 on the 4x4 version – meaning annual road tax of just €330.

If that doesn't do it for you then the price will. The entry level Santa Fe 2WD Comfort costs €36,995 while the 4WD is priced at €40,995. An auto version of the 4x4 is a whopping €4,995 more. Why?

It seems bizarre that the very thing that is synonymous with luxury motoring costs so much.


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