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It may be equally handsome, spacious and well-equipped, but the petrol-powered Hyundai Santa Fe isn't as sweet to drive as the diesel.

11 Sep 2018

Globally, the brand new fourth generation Hyundai Santa Fe is offered with a number of powertrain options - three different engines (two of which are offered for the Asia market), two different gearboxes and either front-wheel drive or All-Wheel Drive (AWD). During the regional test drive held in Subic, Philippines, we drove two variants - the 2.2-litre diesel AWD, as well as this 2.4-litre petrol AWD model.

What's the difference?

The engine, obviously. This car is powered by a 2.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine producing 185bhp and 241Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. This powertrain is carried over from the previous generation model, and sends power to all four wheels via Hyundai's HTRAC AWD system.

The 2.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine produces a modest 185bhp and 241Nm of torque

To be frank, this 2.4-litre engine isn't the powertrain of choice. That's because of the lack of torque over its diesel counterpart, coupled with its heft of over 1.8 tonnes, the 2.4-litre naturally aspirated engine has to work harder to keep up with the pack.

And the rest of the car? 

The rest of the car is the same as the diesel variant we drove. Both cars come with the full (and quite extensive) specification of equipment. Full LED lights, 7.0-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, head-up display, front power seats with driver memory seat, rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines and Qi wireless charging all come as standard.

The 7.0-inch infotainment system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity

You also get the full suite of Hyundai SmartSense active and passive safety systems, which include Rear Occupant Alert, Safety Exit Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and the Surround View Monitor System. 

All of this is packaged in car that looks sharp, offers plenty of cabin space on the inside, and is generally a very comfortable and sensible seven-seater.

So which is the better choice?

While we prefer the diesel variant over its petrol-powered brethren, let's take nothing away from the fact that the Santa Fe is still a very much improved car compared to its predecessor. There's still a lot to like about the new Santa Fe, regardless of variant. 

The cabin offers plenty of space for all passengers

However, when just comparing the two engine options, there's no doubt that the diesel engine is the better fit for this car. The extra low-end grunt definitely helps with a car this size. And as far as refinement goes, there's not too much separating the two, so you're not sacrificing that much picking the diesel.

Ultimately, the question of which to choose will likely come down to a matter of price, especially in Singapore. With the new vehicular emissions scheme significantly penalising diesel engines, it may result in the price of the diesel variant being significantly higher than the petrol (given the same specification).

The pricing of the various Santa Fe variants in Singapore will likely have the greatest impact of which buyers' will choose

Of course, how local Hyundai authorised dealer Komoco Motors spec the different variants will also have an impact on their respective pricing. We will only be able to make a full assessment once the Santa Fe is officially launched in Singapore.  
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