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PH Southeast Asia’s SUV capital



A regional launch for an automotive company is one big deal and the location of the launch is an indication of how the badge considers that market. In Southeast Asia (SEA), standard product launches are used to be held in either Bangkok, Thailand or in Singapore.

But in the last two years, more and more car companies have been holding their area launch in the Philippines. This is especially true if the model is a sport utility vehicle (SUV). The Philippines has been tagged as the SUV market in SEA, selling more than 30 percent over other countries in the area.

The last SUV to launch in the country as a regional reveal was the Nissan Terra early this year in Clark. There were also a Ford and Chevrolet regional launches in the Visayas.

So it was just as logical for Hyundai to take the direction of its competitors and hold the reveal of the Hyundai Santa Fe in Subic Bay last week. Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI) CEO and president Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said it was a pleasure to host motoring journalists from all over SEA and the confidence Hyundai gives the Philippines is very humbling.

This new SUV has a slew of technological virtues.

“The Philippines has been identified as a leader in SUV sales all over the region. It was just natural that the best selling SUV of Hyundai be launched in the SUV capital of Southeast Asia,” Perez-Agudo said.

The new Sante Fe has been completely overhauled. The design of the brand new model connects with the brand’s SUV identity, combining the Composite Light design and Hyundai’s signature Casading Grille.

This new SUV has a slew of technological virtues, including advanced connectivity features. A 7.0-inch Display Audio system offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that also features an integrated rear view camera which can be switched on while driving for a better view behind the car. The Santa Fe also has a Qi wireless charger, as well as two USB ports as standard, perfect for the latest iPhone or android smart phone.

Outside, the new Santa Fe sports a sleek roofline and bold side character line. This highlights its powerful stance and an athletic, bold look. Measuring 4,770mm long, 1,890mm wide and with a wheelbase of 2,765mm, the new Santa Fe is also larger compared to the previous model.

This translates to additional space for all occupants within the car, especially for second and third row passengers. The new one-touch folding seats ease passenger access to third-row seats, while headroom in the third row has also been increased by 22mm.

For safety, the Santa Fe has Hyundai’s SmartSense package of active safety features. This include an industry-first Rear Occupant Alert, which uses ultrasonic sensors to monitor the rear seats and alerts the driver that there are still passengers in the rear seat when leaving the car. There is also a Safety Exit Assist that detect approaching traffic and warns the driver when the door is being opened.

The Santa Fe also has in its safety package a Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and View Monitor System.

The new Santa Fe comes in three powertrain lineup — a 182bhp 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder GDI gasoline engine, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 229 bhp and a 2.2-liter CRDi turbodiesel engine with 197 bhp, all paired to a brand new eight-speed automatic transmission. It is also available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.