Roadtest: Hyundai Tucson

16 Jul 2021 | 11.07 am

Roadtest: Hyundai Tucson

Hybrid drive works in two-tonne SUV

16 Jul 2021 | 11.07 am

Hyundai has sharpened up the design of the fourth-generation Tucson SUV and the driving experience has improved too, writes Mark Gallivan

Ever since its 2016 introduction, the Hyundai Tucson SUV has been a bestseller in Ireland. The fourth generation Tucson uses a 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine, available in petrol, diesel or petrol hybrid using a lithium-ion battery. With the small engine, CO2 emissions are kept low, and range from 138 to 153g/km WLTP, limiting annual road tax from €210 to €280 for the most expensive model in the range. 

SangYup Lee, Hyundai’s head of global design, appears to have embraced a design influenced by HR Giger, creator of the murderous Alien monster. The large front grille is inset with five individual LED headlight pods, which blink in a menacing display.

Peer closely at the new design from end to end and there’s virtually no panel without of a crease or design slash. The rear lights are also new, with a slim light-bar that connects the fang-shaped rear lights. This trend for glowing light-bar illumination is also being used by Audi and Porsche.

A tiny extension to the Tucson wheelbase adds 26mm more legroom in the back, while boot space has increased by 33 litres to 620 litres. In the more expensive hybrid cars, boot space is smaller due to battery requirements, though still on a par with the Ford Kuga and the Skoda Karoq. The rear seat folding split is 40/20/40.

Tucson fans will be impressed by the new cabin. The dashboard is dominated by a sweeping shoulder-high continuous chrome strip that begins at the opening aperture of the front doors. There’s a reworked 10.5-inch central touchscreen, where the main functions are digital, except for climate control. Another improvement in how the latest Tucson drives. Head of R&D Albert Biermann previously shaped BMW’s M division cars, and the Tucson has gone to top of the class for driving panache. 

In the hybrid Tucson, acceleration is decently linear, and drivers will like the Tucson’s firm suspension, which enables the SUV carve a tighter course through narrow roads. The sharper steering offers better dynamic turn-in and more accurate placement on the road, though the Tucson will find its handling limit when pushed hard.

Some may prefer the softer set-up in some rivals, but this tall vehicle stays taut, which is handy for long trips with families on board. The less expensive Tucson models ride the best, largely due to the smaller 17-inch alloy wheels, and overall the new SUV rides the worst of Irish roads with aplomb. Hyundai also improved interior noise, vibration and extraneous acoustics.

On fuel consumption, I frequently came close to achieving 50mpg, which is commendable for a big car weighing 2,020 kilos, though fuel economy dropped once the car was taken out of the city. The harshness when jumping from petrol to hybrid power was never noticeable, and there’s no muted jolt that’s common in other petrol hybrids.

There is a good case for choosing the petrol hybrid version. For most buyers, it’s likely the Tucson will not be subjected to high annual mileage that favours diesel when chasing fuel economy. With an electric charging hub at home, for city dwellers there is the potential to run on electric power for the majority of trips.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Executive Plus
Price: €42,095. Tucson Comfort Plus priced from €33,595
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol hybrid (44.4kWh)
Performance: Top speed 193 km/h, 0-100km in 8 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6.1L/100km (around 47 mph)
Verdict: Striking design and dizzying new tech is a winning mix

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