The next-gen Santa Fe promises to be bigger and bolder than ever
Hyundai Motors America recently announced that it'd bring eight new crossovers/SUVs in the next two years. Those will include a mix of brand new models as well as re-engineered versions of existing SUVs. One that catches our attention falls in the mid-size SUV category based on the American classification - the next-gen Santa Fe, which is expected to enter production by 2019.
After introducing the Santa Fe in India in 2014, Hyundai withdrew the 7-seater urban SUV from its shelves a few months back. A weak demand, fresh competition, an ageing product and a strong focus on the mid-range portfolio could be key reasons for why the Santa Fe was discontinued. But does it mean the end of brand Santa Fe in India? Or is there still a reason for us to wait for the next generation?
The new-generation Santa Fe is expected to grow significantly, especially compared to the Santa Fe that we had in India. While we had a 3-row version here, it was based on the Santa Fe Sport, which was a shorter wheelbase version in other markets and was available only as a 5-seater.
According to the Hyundai's VP of product planning, Mike O'Brien, the new mid-size SUV will be made keeping American buyers in mind and it’ll get a wider and longer body to make it a spacious 3-row SUV. The extra width will make the third row spacious enough for three and the length will make it suitable even for adults.
An SUV with a 7-seat arrangement with captain seats in the middle row is something that large Indian families love. The arrangement will also make Santa Fe a chauffeur-driven's delight considering no other full-size SUV in India boasts of captain seats in the middle row.
Based on the spy shots of the 2019 Santa Fe, it looks like it’s going to borrow design cues from the young Kona SUV. Expect a cascading grille with the daytime running lights placed higher and headlamps located in the bumpers. Fewer curves and smooth straight lines should help its design age gracefully.
Hyundai’s New Role
One of the reasons why the Santa Fe couldn't post strong numbers in India has to do with the timing. It was ahead of its time just like the Hyundai i10 with its sunroof and the Hyundai i20 with its six airbags. The market too wasn't ready to accept a Rs 30 lakh crossover from a mass-market small car manufacturer. Hyundai has since made huge progress in terms of brand perception while the buyers have gotten used to the high price tags too. Now that we've become immune to full-size SUVs from mass carmakers going over the Rs 30 lakh mark, the next-generation Santa Fe will blend right in with its competitors. The buyers are now more likely to give it a good look as the demand for smart soft-roaders continues to climb. That sounds like a perfect set of circumstances for the Santa Fe to return and make its presence felt. We're looking forward to welcoming the bigger next-generation Hyundai Santa Fe in 2020.
Words: Mahesh Yadav
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