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After all the spyshots and ads, Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) officially launched the Hyundai Santa Fe this afternoon in KL. The third-generation DM is locally assembled in Kulim, Kedah, and wears exterior Inokom badges as a result. Since every other badge is a stylised H, badge swapping will be a simple two-piece affair.

Like before, the Santa Fe is offered here with two engine choices, a 2.2 ‘R’ CRDi e-VGT diesel version (197 hp and 436 Nm from 1,800 to 2,500 rpm) and the Theta II 2.4 MPI petrol version with 176 hp and 227 Nm. Both are paired to an in-house developed six-speed automatic with Shiftronic manual override. An “Active Eco” button retards everything to maximise fuel economy.

The 4WD system is of the active on-demand variety, but there’s a 4WD Lock button that spreads drive 50:50 between the front and rear wheels below 40 km/h. Above that speed, the system reverts back to automatic.

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The Motor Driven Power Steering, Hyundai’s name for EPS, gets a Flex Steer system that gives the drive three steering weights to choose from – Comfort, Normal and Sport.

By the way, our Santa Fe is the standard wheelbase version with a seven-seat option, and not the long-wheelbase SUV you might have read about here. Like the outgoing car, the foldable third-row of seats is there to make a 2-3-2 formation.

Boot volume with the third-row folded is 585 litres (including under floor space), which is enough for four golf bags and four Boston bags, according to HSDM. The second-row can slide for and aft, recline and split fold, the latter with a remote folding feature from the boot.

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The “Storm Edge” design Santa Fe’s footprint hasn’t changed by much, and the 2,700 mm wheelbase is retained, although you might notice that it’s less upright than before. Your eyes are right, the new car sits 45 mm lower than before. A rising belt line and a shallow glass area also contributes to the “smaller than before” and more dynamic impression.

Two specs are available for each engine – Elegance and Executive Plus. Standard across the board features include ABS, EBD, BA, ESP, Downhill Brake Control, Hillstart Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Management, dual airbags, rear parking assist, electric parking brake, Smart Key with push start button, 12-way powered driver’s seat, auto headlamps, third-row AC vents, steering wheel controls and cruise control.

Also included are locally fitted “Nappa” black leather seats and 18-inch alloys with 235/60 tyres. There’s also an aftermarket “safe drive recorder” that records video clips of the view ahead.

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The Executive Plus spec adds on niceties like dual-zone auto air con, navigation, HID xenon headlamps, cornering lamps, LED rear lamps, reverse camera (optional on Elegance), rain sensor, full length panoramic sunroof, brown nappa leather seats (pictured here) and 19-inch alloys with 235/55 rubber.

Prices start from RM163,888 for the 2.4 petrol Elegance, rising to RM177,888 for the petrol Executive Plus. If you want diesel power, the entry point is RM176,888. The range topping 2.2 CRDi Executive Plus with all the bells and whistles retails for RM189,888 OTR with insurance. Like other Hyundais, the Santa Fe comes with a five-year or 300,000 km warranty.

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HSDM also announced something new at the launch, a “Leader Card” for Santa Fe owners. The privilege card comes with a concierge service that can arrange everything from a game of golf to medical assistance.

Members are given access to the airport Plaza Premium Lounge (first time complimentary, special rate thereafter), special rates for limo services to and from the airport (first time free on a Hyundai Sonata, or top up for a real limo), special offers for hotels and dining, plus priority service at Hyundai 3S centres. Leader Card holders also get a special price for basic health screenings, consultation, room and board at Sime Darby Medical Centre Ara Damansara.

UPDATE: Read our full review of the Hyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi here.