The Santa Fe Trail
The Hyundai Santa Fe is not a tough 4×4. Or is it? It certainly survived our Kalahari Tough Test.
Claim to fame: An Aussie who made it big in Hollywood. He was famous for his swashbuckler roles in films such as Captain Blood, Adventures of Don Juan and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Great quote: “It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.”
There’s no getting around it: Errol Flynn looked like a bit of a dandy in many of his films. Just look at Robin Hood or The Adventures of Don Juan, for example, two of his most famous films. Throughout, Flynn is decked out in tights, frills and floppy hats. In Robin Hood he sports one of the most absurd hairstyles any leading man has ever worn in any film. It is, quite simply, the hairdo of a five-year-old girl.
But Flynn was most definitely not a fop. And not even the tights or silly hair could obliterate his inherent manliness. He was clearly a leading man. He was also a respected amateur boxer and a bit of an adventurer who loved to travel.
“By instinct I’m an adventurer; by choice I’d like to be a writer; by pure, unadulterated luck, I’m an actor,” he once said.
As an actor, Flynn thankfully didn’t always play a curly-haired, tights-wearing British dandy. He also acted in westerns quite regularly, and here the real Flynn is more evident. One of his best was 1940’s The Santa Fe Trail, which dealt with the notoriously dangerous route that linked Missouri with Santa Fe. Flynn played James Stuart. President-to-be Ronald Reagan, incidentally, played George Custer.
Flynn’s role in The Santa Fe Trail is rather fortunate for the purposes of this article, since it allows us to draw a neat comparison between Errol Flynn and the Hyundai Santa Fe. Many would probably be surprised at the presence of the Santa Fe in a Kalahari ‘tough test’. It’s a little ‘soft’, a little dandyish, isn’t it? Surely, it’s not Kalahari tough.
It’s impossible to argue that the Santa Fe is a pukka 4×4. It’s not. This is an SUV that’s been designed largely for urban environments. It’s got a lockable AWD system, but no low range. Ground clearance is pegged at a rather worrying 185mm. It runs on shiny 19-inch rims. Its headline features include things likeSmart Cruise Control, Vehicle Stability Management and Advanced Traction Cornering Control – systems designed to make the Santa Fe fun and safe to drive on tarmac, not crawl over sharp rocks.
However, if nothing else, this test has shown what even a ‘soft-roader’ is capable of when forced to deal with tough conditions. The Santa Fe was taken out of its comfort zone, and it survived to tell the tale. To be sure, that 185mm of ground clearance was an issue. A bit of road building was needed here and there, but overall, the Hyundai held its own.
And while rock really wasn’t its preferred playground, it had no problem dealing with sand and dirt. The Santa Fe is incredibly quiet and comfortable on bad roads, insulating you from everything that’s happening beneath you.
In fact, there really isn’t much to complain about in the Santa Fe, as long as you stay away from rocky trails. It is an astonishingly well-equipped vehicle – up there with what you’d expect from the Teutonic brands. Its got a 2.2-litre oilburner that develops 145kW of power and 436Nm of torque, and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine is smooth and responsive, delivering a great driving experience.
On the safety side, it has a five-star Euro NCAP rating, six airbags, traction control and electronic stability control. Comfort features include an automatic tailgate, dual-zone climate control, smart cruise control, heated seats and an impressive touchscreen infotainment system.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is the epitome of the modern SUV. It is sleek and stylish, powerful and comfortable – everything needed for day-to-day driving. It’s not a hardcore off-roader. However, it is still a 4×4. When called upon, it can go the distance and take a punch. Tough doesn’t mean not getting hurt. It means not giving up.
Hyundai Santa Fe R2.2 Elite AWD
Engine: 2.2-Litre Turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-Speed Auto
4wd System: Permanent 4wd (Lockable)
Traction Aids: Traction Control
Ground Clearance: 185mm
Price: R739 900