As you guys are probably well aware, there’s a new Santa Fe on its way (Hyundai NZ have yet to tell us exactly when), however, in the meantime, the brand has created a new range-topper for their flagship SUV, it’s called the Calligraphy edition and it’s rewriting luxury.
Dimensionally and proportionally this more luxurious Santa Fe remains the same, and thankfully it’s also still a big and versatile 7-seater, but what Hyundai have done is take their incredibly well spec’d Limited and upped the game – essentially signing off this generation in style.
Visually, the exterior changes have been subtle but still very impactful. The grille is now blackened or darkened chrome grille which really enhances the visage (think eyeliner on a beautiful face), while its profile comes with body coloured trim and sills, and glorious 20-inch ‘Calligraphy-exclusive’ feet. Admittedly, the rear has only been given a lower valence garnish but together, the upgrades raise the bar.
Nothing has been changed under the bonnet, it still boasts Hyundai’s tried and trusted 2.2 L smartstream turbo diesel mated to an 8-speed DCT. Together they give you 148kW of power and a ‘caravan towing’ 440Nm of torque. Efficiency is 7.1 L/100 km and emissions sit around 187g/km.
It may look more special on the outside but the inside is all about the feels.
The interior has again been cosmetically improved but Hyundi have paid particular attention to the touch points. The first thing that you notice is the change of the materials on the seats there is now luxurious Nappa leather on all the furniture, even for those in the ‘cheap seats’ in the 3rd row. They are more comfortable when driving, add a deep leather aroma and of course are heated and ventilated for additional comfort.
The headliner offers an Alcantara (eco suede) feel and again extends all the way to the rear, plus it’s even on the sunvisors. Aside from looking and feeling great, it adds more exterior sound deadening to an already quiet cabin.
The centre console now comes with a sort of brushed aluminium finish which not only looks more upmarket, but it eliminates the reflections and dazzling sunstrike from the regular models set up.
Last but not least, the most tactile area of all, the steering wheel, now comes bathed in perforated leather, which again really enhances the driving experience and it’s heated too for those cold winter mornings.
On the matter of driving experience, I had the Santa Fe Calligraphy for a week and it immediately took pride of place on my driveway – nose facing roadside of course. This upgraded Santa Fe has a certain something about it and garnered more than a few double looks.
I know that this may sound a bit odd, but on the road it drives like a Santa Fe should, even with those smart new wheels. The road noise is barely audible and the suspension absorbs all and sundry. But then there’s the way it feels, and in that respect it’s on another level.
I admit to being a bit of a tactile person, so the addition of superior materials in all the high volume interaction areas is a huge plus for me. The seats are extra soft and accommodating for all inside, the steering wheel feels great in the hand and when the sun finally chose to show its lazy face, the lack of glare from the console was only surpassed by the welcoming eco-suede surface of the sun visor (I did stroke the roof too just quietly).
The Santa Fe Calligraphy joined in on our family chores and excursions for each of the seven days and did it with flair. The practicality of the popular Hyundai being overshadowed by the sense of driving something with a touch more class. For example, the three rows of seats meant that we each got a row to ourselves (we argue less that way) but the Nappa leather and suede for all, meant that no-one complained about which row they hopped in – apart from me as I wasn’t going to give up the driving seat.
I am very partial to this generation of Santa Fe (the design on the next gen has yet to win me over), and this Calligraphy edition showcases this model at its very best. It may not improve your handwriting but it sure feels extra special, and is a great way to sign off this generation.