Hyundai Santa Fe changes direction with boxy new look for SA-bound fifth generation

Published Jul 18, 2023


Through its first four generations, the Hyundai Santa Fe was quite content to be one of those softer-looking SUVs with car-like curves in most places.

But that all changes with the all-new version revealed this week. Some might say it has taken some inspiration from the Land Rover Defender, but either way it’s clear that the Korean carmaker is aiming it at a more adventurous SUV buyer.

Hyundai says the new model was shaped by “big data around the latest outdoor lifestyle trends”.

That said, we still don’t know what’s under the skin of the newcomer as this is very much a ‘take a first look’ kind of reveal, with full technical details to follow when the vehicle makes its official global debut in August.

As for the local launch, Hyundai South Africa says it is aiming to introduce the new model during the second quarter of 2024.

It's probably safe to assume that the new Santa Fe sticks with a unibody architecture like it’s always had, but within that ambit it’s very possible that engineers have honed the electronics to make it more capable off the beaten track.

Its boxy design is not just for show, however. Thanks to this and a longer wheelbase, the family-sized SUV has a more practical interior as well as a full-width tailgate that combines with fold-flat second and third row seating to create a balcony-like space that families can use to relax in, both in urban and outdoor settings.

Furthermore, 21-inch wheels give the Santa Fe a purposeful presence, while H-shaped elements within the headlights and taillight clusters add further distinction to this interesting new SUV.

The H-theme continues on the dashboard inside, including the shapes on the full-length air ventilation system.

Above that you’ll find a large curved display that incorporates the 12.3-inch (31.2cm) digital instrument cluster and infotainment system, while the lower centre console has a separate screen that combines physical and digital controls for the ventilation system.

In addition, Hyundai has aimed for a high-end feel while also making the vehicle more sustainable.

For instance, top models come with delicately embroidered Nappa leather seats and soft-touch wood-patterned garnishes, while items like the suede headliner, mats and seat backs are made from recycled plastic.

“The all-new Santa Fe is an SUV that finds a perfect balance between city life and the great outdoors, handling everything from busy family itineraries to car camping adventures,” said SangYup Lee, Head of Hyundai Global Design Centre.

“With its longer wheelbase, roomy interior and terrace-like tailgate space, the new Santa Fe leans into its SUV strengths to offer more versatility than ever before as well as a premium customer experience.”

That’s as much as we can tell you for now, but stay tuned for more details when the new Hyundai Santa Fe is revealed in full next month.

IOL Motoring