Hyundai Tucson review
The Tucson name is back, but this time it's a stylish, good-value crossover aiming for the Qashqai
In the UK the Tucson name was last seen on a Hyundai in 2009. Boldly styled it focused more on value for money than a quality product, but Hyundai stepped things up with its ix35 replacement that packed lots of kit in a decently made car that rivalled the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti. But the Tucson name is back on a brand new small SUV with a new chassis, tweaked engines and a brand new gearbox.
Since the Tucson was last around the small SUV sector has boomed. The new one can count a large number of very capable cars as crossover, but its chief rivals include the Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Yeti, Mazda CX-5 and the new Renault Kadjar.
The Tucson takes up the ix35’s baton and has an attractive package of mini Hyundai Sante Fe looks, great build quality, efficient engines and a strong suit of safety kit all backed up by Hyundai’s excellent five-year unlimited warranty.
Under the bonnet you’ll find a 133bhp 1.6 petrol, and 113bhp 1.7 and 134bhp 2.0 diesels all with front-wheel drive. For those who all-year grip, the 174bhp 1.6 petrol turbo and 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel come with four-wheel drive (the front wheels receive 100 per cent of torque during normal road driving with up to 50 per cent sent to the rear wheels, automatically, depending on conditions). A six-speed manual and autos are on offer (manual only on the entry-level 1.6), while there’s also a new dual-clutch auto on the 1.6 petrol turbo.
There are five trims available too – S, SE, SE Nav, Premium and Premium SE with even the entry-level S coming with 16-inch alloys, air conditioning, Bluetooth and six airbags. Top drawer Premium SE adds big-car luxury kit like heated and cooling electric front seats, heated steering and an electric tailgate, but mid-grade SE Nav easily offers the best kit for a reasonable price – climate control, parking sensors, 17-inch alloys and Lane Keeping Assist come as standard.
Hyundai has styled the Tucson to look like a mini Sante Fe – and that is no bad thing as the larger Santa Fe is a good looking SUV. This is particularly evident at the front where the Tuscon has gaping chrome grille that links up to headlights that slant backwards onto the front wings.
Squared off wheelarches and a ‘z-shape’ shoulder crease down the car’s flanks give the impression the car is moving while it’s stationary, and the rounded rear end is smart and has rear light clusters that hark back to other Hyundai models like the i20 supermini. It’s a far cry from the bulbous ix35 and is easily one of the best looking small SUVs on the market.
Inside and the ix35’s haphazard dashboard layout has been replaced with something that’s far neater and more ordered. Interior quality has taken a big step forwards too with the overall fit and finish easily rivalling anything with a Volkswagen badge.
Easy to read dials, a large use of squidgy soft-touch plastics and a first-rate infotainment system are particulat highlights, but despite these gains in quality, the interior has an air of blandness – the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar have dashboards that are more interesting to look at.
The Tucson has been built from scratch and features a brand new chassis. In terms of ride comfort, the Tucson is another step up from its predecessor and offers supple suspension that can easily deal with potholes and nasty road imperfections.
It’s quiet too – even in the most powerful 2.0-litre diesel 4WD model, the engine’s noise never really enters the cabin and it’s a hushed place to be when cruising on the motorway. Despite the soft suspension, body roll is good, too – there’s no unpleasant leaning through fast corners thanks to the excellent body control.
For most people, the Tucson will be more than adequate to drive, but for those who like their SUVs to be especially sporty behind the wheel the Tucson falls short – the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga for example, are all far more pleasurable to drive.
In fast bends, the steering is lifeless in the dead-ahead position and gives no sense of feel under lock. It’s accurate, though, and is quick to weight up, and on SE models an above the Flex Steer system weights up the steering even more but doesn’t help give any feel.
The Hyundai is too new to have been ranked in any previous Auto Express Driver Power survey, but a fair few of the Korean company’s models have been and have performed well.
In the 2015 survey the i10 city car finished an impressive third while Hyundai finished in 21st out of 32 – not a brilliant result but above a large number of its rival firms, namely Ford, Nissan and Volkswagen.
Hyundai is predicting a five-star rating from Euro NCAP crash tests thanks to a full suit of safety like a Blind Spot Detection system, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Autonomous Emergency Braking.
The Tucson also comes with Hyundai’s excellent five-year unlimited mileage warranty that should give some peace of mind.
Four six-footers won’t have any trouble getting comfortable in the Tucson thanks to a roomy cabin that’s near the top of the class. Boot room is competitive as well; with the back seats in place, there’s 513 litres on offer.
This swells to 1,503 litres (the auto 4WD has 488/1,478 litres), which is comfortably larger than the Kadjar’s 472 and 1,478 litres. However, it’s just a shame that the rear seat backs don’t lie flat when folded robbing the Tucson of a few extra litres of space.
Even with the Tucson’s sloping roof, there’s plenty of headroom too, and all the doors open wide allowing easy access. But that sloping roof does have impact on rear visibility though – parking sensors are a must.
The Tucson is available with a number of engines and gearboxes and is designed to offer competitive running costs. The most popular combination will likely be the 1.7-litre diesel mated with a six-speed manual gearbox that returns 61.7mpg and emits 119g/km.
For some buyers, the extra grunt from the 2.0-litre diesel will be more desirable and even then it’ll still return just 59mpg (the two-wheel drive version) and 127g/km of CO2. Compared to the diesels, the 1.6-litre turbo petrol looks uncompetitive with CO2 emissions figures of over 170g/km.
Hyundais are no longer the cheap cars they used to be so the new Tucson’s on the road price can look steep compared to the old Tucson. However, Hyundais now have strong residuals and there’s no reason why the new Tucson shouldn’t follow this recent trend.