Plug-In cars now offer fleet customers such low BIK, that every franchise has ‘Phevved’ their model range, including Hyundai, who recently sent us their flagship Santa Fe SUV plug-in to drive.
What is it ?
Sold in the UK since 2001, the Santa Fe is Hyundai’s longest-running SUV. The latest series of improvements offer the option of hybrid & plug-in hybrid powertrains for the first time. The new model also comes with a distinctive new design as well as a range of new technology & safety features.
New Santa Fe is available with Hyundai’s 1.6-litre T-GDi engine combined with either a 230PS Hybrid or a 265PS Plug-in Hybrid option, with emissions as low as 37g/km of CO2. A 6 speed fully automatic gearbox is standard on all models with Hybrid customers able to choose between 2WD or Hyundai’s HTRAC 4WD system featuring intelligent torque distribution & 4 drive modes.
A redesigned front end features a cascading grille, T shaped headlamps & a sculpted front bumper. Rear design changes include new connected tail lamps, full length lower reflector & a redesigned bumper.
Interior changes include a redesigned dashboard with a standard 10.25” infotainment system & optional 12.3” supervision instrument cluster. Cabin space has also increased all around; width by +10mm, length by +15mm & height by +5mm. It also boasts an increase of 34mm of 2nd row legroom over the previous model, giving it an overall best in class 2nd row legroom of 1060mm. You also get a standard 7-seat interior.
Trim & spec
Two trim levels are available. Priced from £40,205, Premium 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 6 speed automatic 2WD, offers customers an awful lot for their money. Full LED headlamps, 17” alloy wheels, LED tail lamps & positioning lamps, privacy glass & roof rails. Interior equipment includes electrically adjustable driver & front passenger seats, 2nd row one touch folding seats, luggage compartment heated front & rear seats, dual zone climate control & a heated steering wheel. You also get a KRELL premium sound system with subscription free Apple CarPlay & Android Auto & Bluelink Connected Car Services comes with a 5 year subscription. Adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, smart key with keyless entry, start/stop, smart electric tailgate with hands free operation, rear parking system with rear camera & guidance system are also offered.
Santa Fe Ultimate 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 6 speed auto 2WD is available from £43,815. It adds a surround view monitor parking system with parking collision avoidance assist, remote smart parking assist, 12.3” full TFT drivers instrument cluster, head up display, blind spot view monitor & highway drive assist.
Emissions & BIK
CO2 emissions are just 37g/km, so the Santa Fe PHEV comes with just 11% BIK. This equates to a 20% tax payer forking out £1080 or a 40% tax payer £2160 per annum.
Comprehensive safety equipment comes as standard. The list includes Blind Spot Collision Assist (BCA), Downhill Brake Control (DBC), Driver Attention Alert (DAA), eCall, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with Car, Pedestrian, Cycle & Junction Turning functions, Intelligent Speed Limit Warning (ISLW) forward & reverse Parking Distance Warning (PDW), Rear Occupancy Alert and Lane Departure Warning Assist with Lane Keep Assist (LKAS). Self-levelling suspension and a trailer wiring package also feature.
The 10.25″ touchscreen infotainment system comes with SatNav, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. This sits central & high on the cars dashboard, making it easy to reach. The graphics are clear & sharp, with most functions easy to use. Steering wheel controls allow you to check on the cars progress, fuel economy, set adaptive cruise control or toggle between the media functions. Quality is generally good, with some decent finishes on the dash front & top.
As a seven seater it’s off to a good start. In the middle row, three adults will sit comfortably next to each other, especially with the sliding bench set all the way back. Row three’s fairly roomy compared to the competition, but best used for short, local trips. Cabin storage comes in the form of large door pockets, space under the arm rest, two centre cup holders & a spot for your keys behind these.
Boot space with all seven seats in place leaves enough room for a weekly shop. Revert to five seat mode & you have 571 litres to play with. Fold all five rear seats down & this goes up to a whopping 1,649 litres. Te good news is that compared to the Hybrid model, you don’t actually lose much boot space, just a few litres below the floor.
Using a Type 2 AC Charger up to 3.3kW, it takes five hours to fully charge the battery. Our advice as always is to invest in a home charger & plug in whenever you can. We recommend Rolec; http://www.rolecserv.com/home-charging
Performance & drivability
The Plug-in comes with a 1.6-litre turbocharged 180hp petrol engine, mated to a six-speed auto gear box. The 13.8 kWh battery & 91hp electric motor add power, so the PHEV comes with a total of 265hp. This give the Santa Fe a 0-62 mph time of 8.8 seconds.
The engines both quiet & smooth, only getting louder when you push your right foot down hard. The battery weight, does affect the ride, with poor road surfaces causing a bit of a judder, as the alloys drive over these. Motorway progress is serene. In town, the Santa Fe feels a little cumbersome, it’s a large SUV after all & offers some body roll on corners. Out of town, there’s plenty of grip & the precise steering makes short work of the road ahead.
The driving mode you select, will shape the cars economy too. Choose from Sport, Smart or Eco, all self explanatory, with Eco being our preferred choice. And we should also mention, that the Santa Fe also features Terrain Mode Select, so you can also choose from Snow, Mud or Sand driving modes, for those off road adventures or just escaping a wet field.
Electric & petrol range
Hyundai claims the electric only range is 36 miles & when the batteries fully charged, that’s what it says on the dashboard. However, in common with all plug-ins & EV’s this should be taken only as a guide. We spent a week & over 200 miles behind the wheel & reckon that 25 miles is a far more likely figure, still plenty enough to drive the kids to school & back or pop to the supermarket, without reverting to the petrol engine.
We saw a combined return over our week of 34.3mpg, not too shabby for a large, heavy, seven-seat SUV. The trick is to utilise the electric range for urban stop-start driving, whilst choosing petrol only for the motorway or similar.
The Company car benefits are brilliant with just 11% BIK on offer across the PHEV range. You get an awful lot of equipment for your buck. The overall quality of the car is excellent. If you need a seven-seat plug-in SUV, only sister model the KIA Sorento PHEV is a good.
Don’t expect sporty handling, the addition of the battery makes a heavy car even heavier. PHEV versions are expensive compared to the self charging petrol versions. Push the car hard & the engine becomes noisy.
If if you’re a company car driver who must have a large seven-seat SUV, then the Santa Fe PHEV would make an excellent choice. The low BIK will save you an awful lot of money & compared to rivals, the Koreans equip their cars to a very high level. The addition of a plug-in version makes complete sense & gives customers a hand towards adapting to full electric driving.