Hyundai has released the first details of a significant update for its Santa Fe flagship SUV, which brings a bold styling overhaul, fresh hybrid powertrains and an all-new platform in a bid to enhance the model's premium appeal.
The seven-seater is the first model in Hyundai's European line-up to move across to the 'third-generation' architecture, which already underpins the US-market Sonata saloon. The brand claims the new platform will offer "improved performance, efficiency and safety".
Headline features include a new ventilation system that improves air movement through the engine bay, allowing heat to dissipate and improving the Santa Fe's stability. Heavy components are also located lower in the chassis for a lower centre of gravity.
The SUV's dynamic performance is also claimed to have been improved by relocating the steering arms, while reinforced sound and vibration absorption material throughout the chassis aids rolling refinement.
The 2020 Santa Fe will be available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains for the first time. Although technical information is yet to be released, the SUV is likely to be offered with the same 261bhp PHEV powertrain as its recently refreshed Kia Sorento sibling, as well as a hybridised petrol motor and conventional diesel.
The Skoda Kodiaq rival has been completely visually overhauled as well, bearing a bold new design that Hyundai says combines "rugged presence and sophistication".
The front grille, which has been significantly enlarged to span the entire width of the car, features a new 3D mesh pattern and is flanked by a pair of distinctive T-shaped daytime running lights. The lower air intake sits within a new skid plate, while vertically orientated side vents aim to strengthen the car's "upright and robust impression".
At the back, the Santa Fe has gained a new reflector bar that stretches between redesigned brake light clusters and a new lower bumper in the same style as the front end. The external redesign is finished off with wider wheel arches and new alloy wheel designs.
Inside, the new platform is said to allow for enhanced comfort and convenience over the outgoing car, with a focus on premium, soft-touch materials throughout.
The dashboard and centre console have been redesigned, and the current car's 7.0in infotainment touchscreen has been swapped out for a 10.25in unit as standard. The gear selector is gone, too, replaced by a shift-by-wire button arrangement on the new floating centre console.
A new Luxury trim has been introduced at the top of the Santa Fe range, bringing bespoke 20in alloy wheels and colour-matching bumper and wheel arch trim, rather than the black items found on lower-spec cars.
Andreas-Christoph Hoffman, vice-president of marketing and product at Hyundai Motor Europe, said: "With the range of new features, the new Santa Fe further progresses as a premium vehicle. It once again shows that we are listening to our customers and are constantly providing the latest features to serve their needs.
"This is also the case regarding our powertrain line-up. With the introduction of the new Santa Fe, our whole SUV line-up will be available with electrified versions ranging from hybrid solutions to fuel cell."
The new Santa Fe will go on sale in Europe from September, with more official details to be revealed in the coming months.