Exclusive: Why Hyundai Santa Fe takes a design "risk"

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Hyundai Santa Fe 2023 front New Santa Fe has a little rounded, much rugged stance than Hyundai’s erstwhile 4x4s and SUVs Company's plan caput SangYup Lee guides america astir the extracurricular of the caller seven-seat SUV

SangYup Lee, plan caput of Hyundai and Genesis, talks america astir the extracurricular of the caller Santa Fe, whose plan represents a extremist departure from models that precede it and others successful the Hyundai line-up.

The seven-seater – more details of which person been released contiguous – has a little rounded, much rugged stance than Hyundai’s erstwhile 4x4s and SUVs.

“It’s a large alteration compared to the erstwhile model,” Lee says, and its plan absorption represents “taking a risk” – 1 that was aboriginal justified by the quality of the modern Land Rover Defender and Ford Bronco SUVs.

“This is 1 of our biggest models,” says Lee. “It can’t fail. So this was precise important.”

“Four-and-a-half years ago, we archetypal started this project,” helium explains. “We ever cheque the large information accusation to forecast aboriginal trends. This was earlier the pandemic, and 1 cardinal connection that truly pops is however ‘outdoors’ civilization has go mainstream. We chose the absorption to screen some the municipality and the outdoors.”


We went to Santa Fe to research the – you guessed it – next-generation Hyundai Santa Fe!Here is our @matty_prior to amusement you 5 of its features... pic.twitter.com/SpY7LH9DCj

— Autocar (@autocar) August 12, 2023

“When you person a box-style SUV, the proportional equilibrium is truthful important,” says Lee. “It has a precise elemental assemblage aboveground with a batch of volume, supported by up to 21in wheels, which is unheard of successful this segment.

“Even though it’s boxy, we privation to adhd much precise details touches. And a batch of the challenges are aerodynamics. From an aero engineers’ perspective, they telephone a boxy car an ‘aero disaster’. So this is 1 of our challenges.

"This car has a 0.29Cd resistance coefficient. We challenged a batch successful aerodynamics. It has an progressive aero shutter connected the front, which is rather antithetic for this segment, and besides it has a vertical aerial curtain which helps, and we person circular instrumentality openings, which is simply a important aero summation arsenic well.

"It’s similar backmost successful the day, with the Porsche [911] 993: the rear fender flare has a batch of softness towards the back. Originally it was much angular, but we realised it’s not truly helping the aero.”

“This plan is each astir signifier pursuing function and emphasising what an SUV tin do.”

We asked Lee however the car looks truthful large successful pictures but not successful reality, whereas the Ioniq 5 is the different mode around.

“That is truthful true," helium replied. "When you archetypal look astatine [the] Ioniq 5, it’s truthful coagulated and choky [that] cipher thinks it has a three-metre wheelbase. It has tons of country work. The corners are circular arsenic overmuch arsenic imaginable to make this compact character. The Santa Fe appears to beryllium large due to the fact that the corners are pulled retired arsenic overmuch arsenic possible. You saw the large tailgate: it’s a slab-sized aboveground and the afloat width is utilized arsenic a plan element.

“Depending connected merchandise determines what plan instrumentality we privation to use. But evidently the volition for an SUV is to accidental ‘I’m a large boy’.”

“Caring is our concept" for the interior, Lee claims. The instrumentality sheet is curved truthful that it’s reachable “when you gully an arc with your arm; this is the curvature," helium says. "And I’ve said this galore times: until autonomous level 4 oregon five, the astir important happening is that you person your eyes connected the roadworthy and everything has to beryllium casual to control, and this is wherefore we didn’t get escaped of the hard keys [and enactment everything connected a touchscreen].

“HVAC is evidently hard keys, due to the fact that this is 1 you usage each the time, truthful without adjacent looking astatine it, you conscionable scope for it."

Behind the rear door, there’s a sunken drawback grip sculpted into the body, with a measurement wrong the rear doorway to ascent on. “It’s 1 of the easiest entree to the extortion rack successful the SUV segment,” says Lee.

Also the footwear opening is wide. “A [saloon] has a trunk, an SUV has a tailgate space,” Lee explains. “That’s a manner space, alternatively than cargo-carrying. So having a beardown vertical enactment to emphasise the cargo country arsenic overmuch arsenic possible, successful operation with the unopen face, it’s 1 of the widest tailgates. If you deliberation astir it, the shutline isn't the width of the tailgate, due to the fact that determination are cars similar the Audi Q7, which has a clamshell, but that doesn’t amusement you however wide the abstraction is. That’s defined by the sill inside.”

The Santa Fe’s footwear opening is astir 1300mm wide.

“It’s each astir family. Every spot has 2 full-sized cupholders and each spot has a USB port,” Lee says.

On forecasting what cars volition look similar 4 oregon 5 years hence, erstwhile plan starts, Lee says: “I don’t cognize what volition hap tomorrow, to beryllium honest. This is wherefore we usage large information to place trends. We person to forecast the aboriginal of mainstream trends arsenic intimately arsenic possible, truthful we person a large information radical internally and we usage different externally.

"Both indicated towards the outdoor lifestyle, peculiarly during the pandemic. Your car becomes your backstage harmless space. RVs [recreational vehicles] are truthful popular.

"We wanted to instrumentality the risk, and this is simply a small spot the crushed that our institution is simply a challenger: nary risk, nary reward. Otherwise, we ever extremity up pursuing the mainstream direction. Then we would become a accelerated follower, and we didn’t privation to beryllium a accelerated follower.”

The Santa Fe surely isn’t 1 of those – and neither is it yet different plan that looks similar it could acceptable into immoderate constituent of its manufacturer's line-up. 

Lee explains: “We already announced our chess-design strategy. Lots of makers usage a family-look strategy, which person a cookie-cutter, Russian-doll consistency. There’s thing incorrect with that, but for us, Hyundai is simply a customer-centric brand, wherever manner customers are precise different. One Gen Z [person] in a azygous household is precise antithetic from mum and dada and 3 kids. So 'chess' is fundamentally king, queen, bishop, knight – all precise antithetic and functionally antithetic but moving unneurotic arsenic a team. 

"When you spot our precise tiny SUV, the Casper, that's a precise compact, Gen Z-oriented SUV with a batch of animated character. For this one [the Santa Fe], it’s really the household car, truthful you can't use the aforesaid plan language.

"So we're diverse. There are pros and cons, but we judge that being customer-centric is what the marque is expected to beryllium to elevate our plan vision. I wouldn’t accidental it's close oregon wrong; I'd say the lawsuit volition decide.”

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