Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi Style

Does combining 4x4 looks with two-wheel-drive value work?

Whether it’s a bright orange fake tan, a mock Tudor house or imitation leather, faking it has an image problem. But that hasn’t stopped Hyundai from adding a faux-4x4 to its line-up. While the platform-sharing Kia Sportage has long been offered with a 2WD option, the front-drive Tucson has only just arrived in the UK.

The Hyundai is smaller than the Altea, with a relatively narrow track and short length, although minimal overhangs mean it’s well proportioned. However, the SUV is beginning to look dated, and there is nothing to set the 2WD model apart from the all-wheel-drive Tucson. At least alloys, darkened rear glass and front foglights are standard.

Inside, the dash design is logical, but it lacks character. More importantly, some material quality and the fit and finish aren’t up to the standard of the SEAT’s. The higher driving position of the compact SUV will appeal to many, but the seats lack support and the fabric trim feels cheap.

Rear legroom isn’t quite as good as that found in the bigger Altea, but there’s enough space to carry three adults, and the seats fold flat easily. Overall, the Hyundai has similar interior room to a family hatch – but it doesn’t drive like one. The Tucson has the same raised suspension set-up as the 4x4 model, but on the road it’s seriously compromised. In corners there’s plenty of body roll, while the unloaded front tyre spins easily and loses traction. Add vague, slow steering to the mix, and the Tucson isn’t at home at all on twisty roads. The dampers fail to control suspension movement over bumpy surfaces, too, so the ride is unsettled, and there’s plenty of kickback through the wheel. It doesn’t feel as stable as the SEAT at speed, while stability control is only available on the top-spec Premium model.

And despite having Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, the Tucson performed badly in our stopping tests. It had a soft pedal, and a distance of 54 metres to come to a halt from 70mph was nearly eight metres longer than the Altea. The gearbox feels weak, too, with a lot of slack in the lever.

Under the bonnet, the 148bhp diesel is 20bhp down on the SEAT’s engine. And at 1,683kg, the Hyundai is 115kg heavier, so it’s no surprise that the Tucson can’t match the Altea’s pace. Diesel noise at idle is noisier than its competitor, although refinement at motorway speeds is similar in both cars.

One thing the Hyundai has on its side is value for money – at £16,695, it’s £3,300 less than the SEAT. Will that help it take victory?

Details

Price: £16,695
Model tested: Tucson 2.0 CRDi Style
Chart position: 2
WHY: Tucson 2WD caters for buyers who want SUV looks but don’t need the off-road ability.

Economy

Buyers who opt for the front-wheel-drive Tucson will do so because of its list price. The 4x4 version suffers from the same drawbacks of limited dynamic abilities and low-quality cabin materials so, in that sense, there’s a valid argument for the cheaper 2WD model. A retained value figure of 34 per cent is poor, and it’s one company car tax group higher than the SEAT. Official economy gains over the 4x4 Tucson are minimal, and in our hands the Hyundai returned only 28.1mpg. More relaxed driving should see consumption creep over 30mpg, but the Tucson has to be pushed to get the most from its performance.

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