Greg Waller i reader and winner of the i-drive competition / John Lawrence/The Independent

'A week in this new Hyundai got me plenty of attention', Greg Waller i reader and winner of the i-drive competition


Price: £34,395 as tested
Engine capacity: 2.2-litre CRDi diesel
Power output (bhp @ rpm): 194 @ 3800
Top speed (mph): 118
0-62 mph (seconds): 10.1
Fuel economy (mpg): 41.5
CO2 emissions (g/km): 178

It's big. It's bronze. And it towers over my neighbours' compact cars of Clios, Focuses and C3s. Thanks to i, a top-of-the-range Hyundai Santa Fe Premium Seven Seat 2.2 CRDi SE is now parked outside my home – ready for me to pilot for a week. It's a bit of a contrast to my usual daily runabout – a Hyundai i20 which still bears the scars of its previous owner's use. It belonged to a driving school and on a bright day, sun glinting off the paintwork, the once decal-clad motor still promotes the first five lessons for £55.

The Santa Fe's bronze metallic paint option gives this diesel automatic a striking kerb-side presence enhanced by the 19in alloy wheels and chunky design lines. Inside, I find a dazzling selection of more than 60 buttons and dials within arm's reach. They control everything from 4x4 drive settings to navigation, the in-car environment and the panoramic roof. It's a big motor, weighing two tonnes and measuring 4.69 metres long. So I'm grateful for the rear-view camera as I squeeze into a spot in south London.

A voice shouts as I clamber out. "Better than Simon Cowell's Ferrari?" The call comes from a man in his thirties sitting on a large scuffed old rucksack, a few carrier bags scattered at his feet. They appear to contain his only possessions. And he's turning the pages of what looks like a bible. He has a side-on view of the Santa Fe, its dark-tinted rear windows keeping prying eyes at bay. From his angle the car must look as if it belongs in the company of bigger priced 4x4s popular in central London. Far away from the dusty mountain tracks and streams that a true off-roader might take on.

The Santa Fe breezes me through 400 miles of urban and motorway driving. The suspension soaks up potholes and road bumps. The six-speed gearbox kicks in to make motorway overtaking easy.

Other drivers, honking minicabs excepted, give it plenty of space as I make a drop-off and pick-up from Heathrow airport. My passengers enjoy its super-comfy adjustable front and rear seats, relaxed interior and elevated position on the road.

I explain to the chap on the pavement it's not my car, that I won it for the week in a newspaper contest. And, sadly, I'm not a friend of Simon Cowell. And I haven't been anywhere near his Ferrari to make a considered comparison. He doesn't seem surprised. "You take care of it for them," he tells me.

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