In-depth reviews

Hyundai Tucson - Engines, performance and drive

Hyundai’s experience with petrol-hybrid powertrains pays off with the Tucson

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.9 out of 5

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Hyundai has built the fourth-gen Tucson using an all-new platform and advanced hybrid technology – highlighting the manufacturer’s serious aspirations for its latest mid-size SUV.

The hybrid powertrain works well, both at motorway speeds and around town. We noticed that the six-speed automatic transmission is keen to shift up early, but as the engine becomes slightly thrashy at higher revs, it’s not such a bad trait.

You’ll probably want to keep the Tucson in its Eco drive mode most of the time. Choosing the Sport function modifies the throttle response and improves assistance from the electric motor, but really it just encourages you to work the engine harder which, ultimately, doesn’t sit well with the Tucson’s focus on comfort.

A nice piece of engineering, and one which helps to boost efficiency, is the hybrid model’s ability to cut engine power when you lift off the throttle at speed. It manages this in a particularly smooth and effortless manner, to the extent that you might not even feel the system working at all.

But, where Hyundai has really succeeded with the Tucson is in its ability to manage decent agility through corners, while remaining controlled and composed over the typical broken tarmac of UK roads. You wouldn’t necessarily turn to the Tucson for a fun Sunday morning blast through country lanes, but it does provide relaxing, refined point-to-point company.

The plug-in hybrid Tucson weighs around 200kg more than its conventional petrol or hybrid alternatives, but it’s also the most powerful model in the range and we didn’t find the extra weight had that much of an impact on the way it performs. The Tucson PHEV does a good job of ironing out bumps, so that lumps are heard more than they’re felt, and it’s hushed and refined at motorway speeds. The Tucson’s light steering makes the Hyundai easy to manoeuvre in town, too.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The 148bhp 1.6 TGDi petrol-only model delivers a rather sedate 0-62mph time of 10.3 seconds, while upgrading to the mild-hybrid version and dual-clutch automatic cuts that time down to 9.6 seconds. Top speed for both is 117mph.

Moving onto the 178bhp mild-hybrid also sees an increase in torque, from 250Nm to 265Nm, and the addition of four-wheel drive. Consequently, acceleration to 62mph is enhanced to a more spirited 9.0 seconds, with maximum speed increasing to 125mph. 

Full-hybrid tech cranks up the power output to 230bhp and trims another second off the 0-62mph time, bringing it to 8.0 seconds exactly, although this version has a slightly lower 120mph top speed. During our testing we were surprised by how raucous the four-cylinder engine is, and it sounds coarse at high revs. 

The plug-in hybrid gets even more power – 261bhp and 350Nm – but it’s much heavier, so 0-62mph is dispatched in 8.6 seconds and this edition’s top speed stands at 118mph. While the Tucson PHEV won’t win a game of Top Trumps, its electric motor can fill in for the 1.6-litre petrol engine under the bonnet when needed, with all its torque available as soon as you hit the accelerator. As a result, the car surges forward with a willingness unlike any other Tucson.

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