Published on July 9th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair0
VOTY 2020//7-Seater SUV of the Year – Hyundai Santa Fe
The 7-seater SUV segment has begun to expand over the years, with customer appetites for larger SUVs becoming apparent to more brands. Most growing families need the extra seats for a nanny or grandparent. And as SUVs move away from the ‘utility’ aspect and towards the ‘lifestyle’ and ‘luxury’ aspects we’re accustomed to in other segments, they become easier to justify in 1-car households. While we did have a couple of choices, the judges ultimately decided that both the diesel and petrol variants of the Hyundai Santa Fe were genuinely impressive vehicles.
Hyundai’s design game has gone from competent to nuanced to downright avantgarde in just a few years. I think we saw this first on the facelifted Elantra, but moving the design language from an established lines to new territory might give the new Hyundai’s a more polarising look. Instead of something that is merely handsome, the Hyundai Santa Fe creates a look that is both proportionate and distinct.
To me it’s a step in the right direction for the company, as their previous generation of vehicles seemed to be too conversative to attract much attention. This new Santa Fe has a certain aura about it, quite like the Land Cruisers of old. The imposing shape and gargantuan size no doubt contributes to this, but the finer details in the body panels and light graphics too.
Up front you get ultra slim LED daytime running lights disguised as headlights the way the a la Nissan Juke and Jeep Trailhawk. A huge Cascading front grille takes up most of the front fascia to give the Santa Fe that signature modern Hyundai grille. At the rear, the taillights are finished in an intricate 3 dimensional LED graphic. It’s the kind of stuff you’d find in the premium segment, that’s for sure.
Build quality, comfort, design and practicality were where it excelled, but Hyundai also delivered on real value for money and ruggedness as well. The new Santa Fe also looks like literally nothing else on the market right now. A simple powertrain and high equipment levels make this even more appealing for those who are a little risk averse at the moment.
The latest generation model is available in Malaysia in 4 variants, and you can even specify a burgundy coloured interior for a couple of thousand Ringgit. So it’s quite an interesting option, especially for those looking for a large family car that looks and feels a little upmarket, without coming preloaded with upmarket complications.
Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4L Premium Specifications
Engine: Inline-4, 16-Valve, DOHC, Petrol
Gearbox: 6-speed Conventional Automatic
Max power: 170hp @ 6000rpm
Max torque: 225Nm @ 4000rpm
About the VOTY Awards 2020
The Vehicle of the Year (VOTY) Awards is sponsored by Allianz Malaysia Berhad and is judged by Daniel Sherman Fernandez, Ross Hadi, Amirul Mukminin and Subhash Nair from Drive Safe and Fast (dsf.my) and GohedGostan.com.
The selection process is simple and clean. All cars launched in Malaysia within 13 months of our cutoff date are eligible for entry. We contact all car brands officially operating in Malaysia and ask them for test cars for each of our judges. There’s no participation fee, no tables to buy, no package deals — nothing. Any judge who drives an eligible car gets to vote for it. A simple majority is all it takes for a vehicle to win in a given category.
The categories are kept as consistent as possible from year-to-year with some modifications when a certain category is not adequately represented or is over-represented in that particular year. You can view the categories over the years by looking through our “VOTY” tab on the dsf.my page.
Our title sponsor Allianz recognises the integrity of our team and all players involved in deciding on winners and leaves all decisions to us regarding the winners. We hope our readers appreciate the efforts of all parties involved and provide us with feedback on how we can further improve on this.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to postpone our VOTY awards presentation and have instead decided to stream it LIVE on facebook and youtube. This would make VOTY the first automotive awards show to be streamed live in ASEAN as far as we can tell.