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The Hyundai Santa Fe SR officially launches this week as the new flagship of the company’s family SUV line-up, eight months after it premiered.

Priced from $59,990 plus on-road costs, the Santa Fe SR adds a range of performance-oriented features both outside and underneath, to make it the raciest-looking soft-roader in the school car park.

The price tag puts it $6750 above the Santa Fe Highlander AWD, and makes it the priciest Hyundai outside the Genesis sedan. The Santa Fe R is also the fourth member of Hyundai’s SR sports-tuned family, joining the Accent SR and i30 SR hot hatches, and the Veloster SR coupe.

Hyundai Santa Fe SR_04

Given a significant proportion of Santa Fe sales are of the Highlander in Australia, there’s clearly a market. The price puts the Santa Fe SR into contention with mid-sized (smaller) Europeans such as the Audi Q5, but offers more space, performance and equipment.

The Santa Fe SR is based on the current MY15 Santa Fe, rather than the updated MY16 model that premiered in Korea a few weeks ago, and which is due to go on-sale in Australia in the final quarter of 2015.

Unique additions to the Santa Fe SR include a full sports bodykit (new front spoiler, side skirts and a rear diffuser), 19-inch OZ Racing alloy wheels shod with high-performance 235/55 Michelin Latitude Tourer tyres (a full-size spare features), 340mm x 28mm front/302mm x 22mm rear Brembo brakes with red four-piston monobloc calipers, and H&R Performance springs.

Hyundai Santa Fe SR_05

As is customary for Hyundai Australia, the Santa Fe SR benefits from work done by the company’s Sydney-based suspension and chassis tuning team, which reworked the existing South Korean-market Santa Fe Sports Package.

The team specified H&R Performance Springs front and rear (6.0 per cent and 11.0 percent stiffer respectively). The springs are matched to Korean-made Mando dampers as used on other Australian-spec MY15 Santa Fe model variants.

Dimensions of the Santa Fe SR’s Oz Racing wheels are unchanged over the standard alloy wheels available on the Santa Fe Highlander. However, the new Santa Fe SR’s alloys offer better caliper clearance than the standard wheels.

Hyundai Santa Fe SR_01

“For us, it wasn’t about the wheels being bigger and wider, or having a different offset, but about spoke design and the required caliper clearance,” said Hyundai Motor Company Australia senior manager of product planning Andrew Tuitahi.

Hyundai’s Flex Steer adjustable steering weight system and Active On-Demand 4WD with torque-vectoring Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC) feature.

Under the bonnet there are no changes to the existing 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, which outputs 145kW and 436Nm of torque, sending power to all four wheels when needed via a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Hyundai Santa Fe SR_14

Santa Fe SR comes with Hyundai’s benchmark five-year/unlimited km warranty, lifetime capped servicing costs and a 10-year Roadside Assistance plan. Santa Fe SR is available in four exterior colours: Creamy White (solid), and Sleek Silver, Titanium Silver and Phantom Black (all metallic). Each is matched with leather-appointed black interior trim.

Hyundai Santa Fe sales are up 13.8 per cent this year to 2985 units, growth almost twice the total market result. This puts it seventh in the massively popular Large SUV segment, behind the Toyota Prado (6149), Jeep Grand Cherokee (5316), Toyota Kluger (5224), Subaru Outback (4208), Holden Captiva 7 (3930) and Ford Territory (3916).

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe SR key features:

  • 12-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • Heated second row seats
  • Rear-door sunshades
  • Twin-panel, auto-closing panoramic glass roof
  • Dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning (with vents on all three rows)
  • Automatic dusk-sensing HID Xenon headlights
  • LED Daytime running lights
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rear-view camera
  • 7” Touchscreen satellite-navigation system with SUNA traffic updates and three years’ HERE MapCare
  • Bluetooth iPod connectivity
  • 10-speaker premium audio system
  • Underfloor rear cargo storage
  • Proximity smart key with push-button start
  • Power tailgate with hands-free opening