Hyundai has given us a hint of what the next Santa Fe will look like, and it's quite a dramatic departure for the big, seven-seat SUV.
While we await fuller details, the shadowy image that Hyundai has shown so far reveals styling that is really quite different from what we've seen before. While the current Santa Fe looks bluff and upright, this new model looks set to take on an almost sports-car-like aesthetic, with a full-width grille that tapers towards the outer edges, and distinctive T-shaped LED headlights that seem to cut behind parts of the bodywork. In fact, is it just us or is there a faint touch of the Fisker Karma about the styling of this new Santa Fe?
It's also rather more new than you might be expecting. The current Santa Fe was only launched three years ago, so you'd be expecting this one to be a mere facelift and update. But no - Hyundai says that "the new Santa Fe will be the first Hyundai model in Europe and first Hyundai SUV globally based on the all-new third-generation Hyundai vehicle platform. The new platform allows for significant improvements in performance, handling and safety, as well as facilitating electrified powertrains." That means that the Santa Fe will share the same 'N3' platform as the new Kia Sorento (another car that gets a big, broad grille).
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains
Another item shared between the two will be a plug-in hybrid powertrain. All Hyundai is saying for now is that the new Santa Fe will be 'enhanced and electrified' but we take that to mean that it will share a new plug-in hybrid powertrain with the Kia Sorento. We know that uses a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and a 44.2kW electric motor, for a combined total of 230hp and 350Nm of torque, but no-one is yet talking specifics of electric-only range nor CO2 emissions. There will also be a more conventional, non-plug-in, hybrid which will give Hyundai a rival to the incoming new Toyota Highlander.
On sale in September
The new 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, with 202hp and 440Nm of torque, will also be fitted to the Santa Fe, and that should be rather more efficient than the outgoing model, not least because the engine is some 38kg lighter than its predecessor. Both models will come with a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
We don't know anything of the interior yet, but Hyundai says that it will include "design updates providing premium sensibility and comfort." The current Santa Fe already has a pretty lovely cabin, so perhaps Hyundai hasn't made any huge changes there. Expect a massive central touchscreen, though and a bevvy of safety equipment including lane-keeping and a warning system that locks the rear doors if it detects a cyclist approaching when you're parked.
Hyundai says that the new Santa Fe will begin European sales in September.