Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI), recently flew us to beautiful Siargao to put the all-new Santa Fe 2WD through its paces on the island’s scenic roads. To say that it stood out while blending in perfectly may seem like a contradiction— but its really not. Having a surfboard on its roof rack felt so natural, we almost forgot it wasn’t OEM.
The SkyJet BAE-146 aircraft that HARI chartered for our trip flew us direct from dreary Manila to the Sayak Airport located in Barangay Sayak, Del Carmen, Siargao del Norte. The weather was perfect when we landed—although it was a bit humid, the sky was overcast and it wasn’t too sunny. Warm Surigaonon hospitality welcomed us as we stepped out of their modest airport with a colorful display of local talent and culture. However interesting the presentation was, none of us could really concentrate because just beyond the perimeter gate, our rides were waiting for us, all decked with long boards on their roof racks, ready to begin the live Brilliant Test Drive Santa Fe edition.
On the outside, Hyundai’s mid-sized crossover still has the familiar “Fluidic Sculpture” design philosophy present in their vehicle lineup, although it has now evolved into what they call Storm edge that features “refi ned lines and details, portraying a rugged yet luxurious presence.” The third generation Santa Fe sports a new hexagonal grill, twin mufflers, and aerodynamic bodyline accents. It now also features HID headlamps (for the 4WD AT variant), fog lamps with cornering lights, LED side repeaters and rear LED combination lamps.
Under the hood, the new Santa Fe is fitted with a turbocharged R eVGT 2.2-Liter diesel engine that offers a maximum of 194.30 horses and 421.83 Nm of torque. The engine is mated with either a 6-speed manual or automatic (H-matic) transmission that promises outstanding fuel economy.
Our first destination was the picturesque Dedon Island Resort that was going to be our home for the duration of our stay. It wasn’t until we got to the resort that we realized HARI had booked the whole place exclusively for us. Our well-appointed villas were rustic yet luxurious, simple yet laden with all the amenities we needed, except for a TV that would “ruin the experience” according to the management. The furniture was fabulous, because Dedon also happens to be a purveyor of upscale furniture that is made in Cebu and marketed in Europe, and the resort also serves as an interactive showcase.
“Conquer the waves” was one of the items we had to tick off our list during the trip, and so our group headed to Siargao’s famous surfing playground – Cloud 9—to do just that. Each participant was assigned an instructor, and in no time most of everyone was out in the surf hanging ten—or at least trying to. One thing we learned from the activity was that you don’t need to be in deep water to surf. You just need the waves.
Our second day started bright and early with a lesson on mangrove preservation and conservation by a representative of the local DENR. After his short talk, we were given a chance to plant our own seedlings to help in the propagation of the species. Since I don’t have a green thumb, it was really great to learn that those mangroves are a hardy bunch that survive, and even thrive in the harshest of conditions.
We then embarked on the main drive for the trip. Alegria Beach was our lunch destination, and it was located on the other side of the island. En route, we encountered varied road conditions as well as twisty turns with different gradients, making the drive more interesting. I’ve always believed that the best way to tour our country is by land, to experience the area like locals, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when supposedly “rural” roads turn out to be great rides.
On the way, we got to try out the Flex Steer function that compliments the Santa Fe’s tilt and telescopic steering wheel. The new feature allows the driver to choose one of three control modes— Comfort, Normal, and Sport— which determines how light or how heavy the steering will be, depending on the situation and driver preference.
The route also allowed us to test the Hillstart Assist Control, Downhill Brake Control, and Brake Assist System. On paper, the features sounded par for the course for vehicles with automatic trannies, but when we actually felt the brakes engaging when we were on a downhill slope, everyone in our group was quite impressed.
The cabin of the Santa Fe is redefined with premium styling, high-end features and intuitive technology. Additional features of the premium 4WD AT are the panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), side and curtain airbags, power seats and a sleek center console that houses a 4.3” TFT touchscreen LCD with a rear camera display that automatically switches on when you pop the gear in reverse. All variants still have cruise control and offer Keyless Entry, with the Push Start System available for the AT variants.
THE FISH HOOKS
After a hearty lunch at the beach, our convoy headed to the General Luna boardwalk to send off our representatives for the Biggest Catch competition. Our teammates Chris Kho (Kotse.com) and Ronnie Trinidad (Sprocketph.com and Wave 89.1) actually caught enough fish to win second place overall, while Charlie Cruz (Wave 89.1) and yours truly shot more footage for the video we had to submit for the contest that was part of the trip.
Our trip culminated with a fun, thanksgiving party with lots of food, drinks, and live jamming. The ‘island experience’ theme was complete with fire dancers and a reggae band that played well into the night. The following morning was when everyone got to chill out and dwell on the fact that we had to go back to reality that afternoon. The folks at HARI always find innovative ways to showcase their vehicles while having so much fun, it hardly seems like we’re working at all.
With the third generation Santa Fe, Hyundai has once again upped the ante in the mid-sized crossover segment, with the best-in-class features. Its no wonder the vehicle won CAGI’s Midsize Crossover Car of the Year award for 2012-2013, as well as the Best in Class award by the Euro NCAP in 2012.
The all-new Hyundai Santa Fe is available in Creamy White, Red Merlot, Arabian Mocha, Titanium Silver, and Phantom Black, with prices pegged at PHP 1.568 million for the 2WD MT, PHP 1.768 million for the 2WD AT, and PHP 2.228 million for the fully loaded 4WD AT variant.
Words by Mika Fernandez-David
First published in Gadgets Magazine, August 2013