The Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid at a glance
Plenty of space for up to seven people, all-wheel drive and, on top of that, available as a plug-in hybrid: With the new Santa Fe (and the almost identical Kia Sorento PHEV), Hyundai is entering a relatively small, but thoroughly illustrious vehicle segment that is usually more the same Distribute veteran premium providers among themselves. If you want to combine all these attributes, the Koreans start from 58,700 euros before funding – with two seats less, the journey starts at 55,750 euros. A lot of money for a car from the Far East, which even compared to some local car products no longer seems that cheap (combined fuel consumption: 1.6 l / 100 km; combined power consumption: 18.1 kWh / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 37 g / km²).
But Hyundai has long since said goodbye to the rest ramp, relies on quality and state-of-the-art technology. When it comes to connectivity and convenience, they offer (almost) everything that is good and expensive. The digital instrument cluster is standard with the plug-in hybrid, as is a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with navigation function. Mirroring to Apple and Android smartphones is a matter of course, but is still done via USB cable. A head-up display is optionally available and the Krell sound system, which is already included in the Sorento PHEV, ensures that there is plenty of life in the booth. The fact that you can move the front passenger seat from the rear right has a certain upper-class flair.
Finest leather, service in need of improvement
Those who are willing to invest additionally receive plenty of nappa leather, air-conditioned front seats and even a headliner in a suede look. What looks like premium mostly feels like it. Knock-proof plastic surfaces are only palpable now and then – but German carmakers don’t do that any differently either. However, there are differences in operation. Here Hyundai has visibly invested a lot of time (and money) to make dusty systems competitive again. However, not all of the new features appear sensible, as vehicle options are much too nested and hidden in the numerous menus. A voice assistant is also annoying because it does not understand many commands adequately and sometimes requires word sequences without alternative – such as “Cancel route guidance”.
Once you get used to these circumstances, there is still time to deal with the driving characteristics of the 4.79 meter long Hyundai Santa Fe. The 2.1-ton car has a very solid suspension, can still be wagged properly through curves for its dimensions and even reveals a little sporty ambition whether its drive system. Anyone who still fluctuates between full and plug-in hybrid – the choice should definitely fall on the plug variant. On paper, the two variants differ primarily in a performance difference of 35 hp, which at first glance does not seem earth-shattering. But the 265 hp plug-in hybrid looks much more lively than we remember with the 230 hp full hybrid (back then in the Kia Sorento).
Strong, but not very economical engine duo
Where does the extra performance come from? Hyundai installs a more powerful electric motor on the rear axle of the part-time electric vehicles, which can contribute 91 HP (67 kW) instead of 60 HP (44 kW). Thanks to the significantly larger battery (net 13.8 kWh instead of 1.5 kWh), the plug-in hybrid is also able to support the combustion engine for longer – provided it is charged. The no-alternative 3.3 kW on-board charger hardly encourages you to dig the charging cable out of the nested underbody of the trunk during a shorter stop.
Incidentally, the Hyundai Santa Fe should be able to cover between 58 and 70 kilometers, depending on the measurement method, without the help of the sometimes grumpy 1.6-liter turbo gasoline engine and thus purely electric. An optimistic assumption that could not be confirmed during our two (winter) test weeks. An everyday electric range of 40 to 45 kilometers therefore appears more realistic, in summer we reached almost 50 kilometers with the identical Kia Sorento Plug-in Hybrid. The consumption values are also well above the factory specifications. In the long-term calculator, a good 7.5 liters per 100 kilometers are anchored over more than 1,300 kilometers and even those who are mainly on the move electrically will rarely see less than three liters in the on-board computer. Because especially in winter, the petrol engine runs as a heater for the first time when it is cold started.
Less space than in the Kia Sorento
At the end there is still a look at the practical space and draft values. Although the 5-seater Hyundai Santa Fe can carry an impressive 634 to 1,704 liters of luggage, with these values it is clearly defeated by the sister model Kia Sorento with 693 to 2,077 liters. The Hyundai also lags behind the Kia in terms of trailer load. As a plug-in hybrid, the Santa Fe can only take 1,350 kilograms on the hook, while the trailer load of the Kia Sorento plug-in hybrid is 1,500 kilograms.
Hyundai has developed the Santa Fe in the best manner into a true flagship. The choice of materials, workmanship and standard equipment are premium, the plug-in hybrid drive, on the other hand, is only mediocre. The electric range is too short, but the consumption on long journeys is too high. The latter also applies to the price, which despite being subsidized has nothing to do with a special offer. If you want to use all the advantages of the great Korean, it is better to continue to use diesel. (Text and image: Thomas Vogelhuber)