The Santa Fe SUV is one of the brand's most recently updated models, the current edition having debuted in 2019. That hasn’t stopped the Korean automaker from already planning a redesign for 2021, even though that’s very unusual after only two years.
Is that down to strong competition? Probably. But there's another explanation behind the early refresh.
The first image of the 2021 Santa Fe, posted by the company’s European division, shows a considerably reworked face. The grille, for one, sees its extremities widened. These also serve as separations for the LED daytime running lights, which get a T shape. The upper part of the lighting, arranged horizontally on the current model, is curved on the photo posted this week.
Patterns can be seen on the hood, and the lower part of the front end also shows a very different signature. Hyundai describes the design as "rugged, yet luxurious". It's clearly more aggressive than anything we've seen on a Santa Fe so far.
For now, the manufacturer isn't giving any further details. The press release accompanying this photo is full of adjectives and generalized marketing-speak like "a refreshed SUV with a dignified and charismatic exterior design" and an interior "offering first-rate sensitivity and comfort". The big news is that the Santa Fe is moving to third-generation N3 architecture that will mean the introduction of new electrified powertrains to the lineup. For Europe, this will mean hybrid and plug-in hybrid offerings to accompany "significant improvements in performance, handling and safety".
The current Santa Fe has only been on sale for about two years, making this refresh premature for our market. The arrival of hybridity with this model is certainly intended to enable European emissions to be met. Clearly, then, it almost surely means this reworked Santa Fe won't be coming to North America for another year, maybe two. Hyundai has stated that the new version will go on sale in September in Europe. We'll know more about this model in the coming weeks.
Whenever it does arrive here, its earlier debut elsewhere will give us an idea of what to expect.