How do you match a car to your lifestyle? Well, that depends on what’s important to you or, in some cases, the people around you.
Maybe you’ve reached that point in your life where a hot hatch is limited in functionality.
There’s just not enough room to fit a lengthy bit of IKEA furniture or to take the family out for dinner or a weekend getaway.
If these are some of the points that you’re contending with, then basically you need a bigger car.
And there’s quite a lot to choose from, so let’s narrow it down to an SUV.
“I don’t want to be driving a moving box of an MPV anyway,” you say to yourself.
Yes, you still want to make a bit of a statement on the road and yet have the functionality without sacrificing style.
But there’s so many SUVs to choose from, you realise.
If you’re going by numbers, then consider this: less than RM200K, 4WD, 2.2-litre diesel engine, seven seats, six speed automatic transmission, five doors, dual airbags, 19-inch wheels, 534 litres of cargo space in five seat mode, 197PS and ... wait for it ... 436Nm of torque. That’s a lot of grunt.
If this is getting you interested, then here are some more features to entice you:
Brown nappa leather seats, wide panoramic sunroof, smart key with start/stop button, 12-way adjustable driver seat, dual full auto air conditioning, reverse camera, rear parking assist system, HID Xenon head lamps, and LED rear combination lamps, among many other things.
What did I just describe?
The Hyundai Santa Fe R 2.2 CRDi Executive Plus (it’s rebadged as the Inokom here as it’s locally assembled).
This is the premium diesel variant of the Santa Fe model; there’s also the diesel Elegance variant, a step below the Executive which leaves out the sunroof, reverse camera, and Xenon/LED head lamps, mainly.
Then there’s the 2.4-litre petrol variant, also in Elegance and Executive trimmings.
In short, there are four variants of the Santa Fe.
Maybe that’s more information than you need because your main concern is whether it looks any good and how it drives.
In the looks department, the Korean automaker has definitely hit it out of the park.
Hyundai has designed an SUV that will have you admiring it from the front, rear, side, three-quarter ... you can view it at all the different angles and wonder at how this car has been beautifully crafted and sculpted.
There’s curves and sharp edges abound; pronounced wheel arches; a domineering hexagonal grille with slats and predatory head lamps outline its aggressive nature in the front of the vehicle.
It’s pretty attractive in the rear, too, what with the striking taillamp design.
At any rate, the Santa Fe will turn heads; it looks aerodynamic for a big car.
The pleasing design continues to the interior as well.
The dashboard design is complex what with all the curves and surfaces. And there’s the centre console that bears a resemblance to a hooded cobra and yet it doesn’t feel overly designed.
The functionality is there at the instrument cluster which has two massive elliptical rings side by side. The steering wheel has audio controls on the left and cruise controls on the right.
The layout is such that all the knobs and buttons, even for the entertainment system and climate control, make it simple to decipher.
And how much fun is it to drive the Santa Fe?
It’s a lot of fun simply because the diesel engine is responsive to the touch.
You don’t even have to try and the Santa Fe moves along swiftly and quickly as maximum torque is available from 1,800 to 2,500rpm.
The auto transmission is smooth and effective and it’s a comfortable ride too. And despite it being a diesel engine, you don’t really feel or hear the harshness of it in the well-insulated and spacious cabin.
On top of it, it has safety features to the fore such as the vehicle stability management, electronic stability programme, brake assist and traction control system all designed to make sure you stay planted on the road with effective braking performance.
There’s also hillstart assist and downhill brake control.
But it’s the little things that matter to me. I like it when I approach the car with the smart key in my pocket and the indicator lamps on the side mirrors flash and the cabin lights turn on sensing that it’s master has arrived and is greeting him.
The rain sensor is also a nice feature as your wiper blades spring into action automatically once it rains.
And the sunroof makes a big difference too when you’re driving as it gives you a wider appreciation of your surroundings.
The seven seater, 2.2-litre diesel engine Santa Fe Executive Plus offers a lot in terms of features, functionality, style and drivability. And at this price point, it’s hard to find an SUV that can match it.