Hyundai has published a first official look at the upcoming 2021 Santa Fe refresh, after spy images of the updated interior surfaced last week.

    Described as “rugged yet refined”, the Santa Fe’s new face shows a number of new design elements, including a combined grille and daytime running light signature which “reflect Hyundai’s new integrated vehicle architecture” – perhaps hinting at revised underpinnings likely shared with the new-generation Kia Sorento.

    “Santa Fe’s redesigned grille is wider than before, expressing bold character, its chrome framing a geometric pattern that produces a striking stereoscopic effect,” Hyundai says.

    “The eye-catching T-shaped DRLs are designed to be seen from a distance and hint at technological enhancements yet to be revealed.”

    Looking above, you’ll notice two versions of the Santa Fe’s ‘face’ have been published. According to the captions accompanying Hyundai’s official teaser images, the darker grille is the ‘standard’ front while the lighter example is the ‘luxury’ look.

    Those who watch plenty of David Attenborough documentaries might liken the new look to certain species of shark, but it’s certainly slimmer and more aggressive compared to the model currently on sale.

    Beyond the aesthetic upgrades, the new Santa Fe will get “interior design updates providing premium amenities and comfort”, according to Hyundai.

    2021 Hyundai Santa Fe teased: Full reveal just weeks away

    Some of those changes will almost certainly be in line with the interior spy images we reported on last week, first seen on KoreanCarBlog, showing a larger infotainment display and an overhauled centre console pulled from the larger Palisade.

    Other upgrades are expected to include the availability of a 12.3-inch fully-digital instrument cluster for high-end models, more sophisticated driver assistance technologies allowing for essentially Level 2 autonomy, and a revised range of powertrains.

    Using the new 2021 Kia Sorento as a guide (due to hit Australian showrooms in July), the updated Santa Fe should also offer electrified power for the first time.

    Pairing an optimised version of Hyundai and Kia’s 1.6-litre ‘T-GDi’ petrol turbo four with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, developing system outputs of 169kW and 350Nm.

    In the Sorento, the standard ‘Hybrid’ gets a 1.49kWh battery for short bursts of electric-only power to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, while the upcoming Plug-in Hybrid version will get a much larger battery for extended EV motoring.

    Hyundai Australia is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Santa Fe in 2020, with more than 5,260,000 units sold across the globe since the nameplate’s introduction.

    Further information about the enhanced fourth-generation model “will be revealed in the coming weeks”.

    With that in mind, expect the full reveal in June ahead of an Australian market launch before year’s end.

    Despite the hybrid models expected to be the headline acts globally, Australia may not get these versions at launch if the Sorento is anything to go by – however Kia has committed to kickstart with EVs for its local electrification strategy while Hyundai already offers a mix of hybrids, plug-ins and EVs.

    Regardless, the wider range should offer the current model’s 206kW/336Nm 3.5-litre V6 with eight-speed automatic, and a new version of the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel developing 149kW and 440Nm, teamed with new eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch auto.

    Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest Santa Fe coverage, and let us know your thoughts about the new look in the comments below.

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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