Friday 14 June 2024

REVIEW – Hyundai Tucson Premium SE

The Hyundai Tucson is one of the more recent models to show its face in the model line-up. It is a crossover, available with a host of engines and either 2WD or 4WD configuration. As with other models the Tucson aims to offer premium quality at an affordable price; to create the perfect package for your next family car. It shares quite a bit- from specification to engines- with the Kia Sportage, a car that has been well received in the market (and here at Simply Motor). So I gratefully took the opportunity to grab a Tucson for a week. Could it really offer a premium drive at a reasonable price?

Looks – 8/10

In recent years Hyundai has worked hard to position itself as a more premium brand. And this shows itself when you look at the model styling. The new i20 looks worlds apart from the model it replaces. Same goes for the i30 and i40. Now the Tucson replaces the ix35, a car which I really didn’t like the look of. But I do like the Tucson. The body is big and beefy; with broad shoulders and a rugged stance. My Premium SE test car sat on huge 19-inch turbine alloy wheels, which filled the arches nicely. The front bumper is angular and incorporates LED daytime running lights. The Tucson has a black plastic sill all round, and this helps give it some off-road kerb (or rut?) appeal. At the back it’s a little less aggressive and a bit more rotund looking, but the twin tail pipes and subtle spoiler provide a little sporting prowess.

The inside of the ix35 was not a particularly nice place to be, and again Hyundai has ramped up efforts to improve things for the Tucson. There’s leather on the seats and door cards. The plastics are generally of a higher quality, although there are a few scratchy areas knocking around. For me there’s not enough of the silver trim to break up the black, and this gives the interior a dark feeling. The multimedia screen could do with being a little bigger and more prominent. The switchgear is well laid out and nice to the touch, which gives the Tucson a robust feel. The dials are a simple white on black, with a TFT information display in the centre. The seats are slightly bolstered, and perforated to allow the cooled function to work better. To add a bit of contrast, I would opt for the red leather interior, which would contrast a white or grey exterior just nicely.

Handling/Performance – 8/10

There are several engines available in the Tucson, and my car had the one which I expect is most popular: the 1.7-litre diesel. Mine was the more powerful: 141PS and 340Nm of torque. Better yet, it came with Hyundai’s new 7-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT). It’s certainly not on the same level as the VW Audi group DSG offerings – the 6-speed in my Seat Leon is quicker and slicker – but they are much better than the previous auto boxes, and for me would be a better choice than a manual. The DCT makes the most of the engine’s power, although the 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds and top speed of 115mph will not likely set your hair on fire. Having said that, the power delivery is smooth, and thanks to that 7th gear the Tucson cruises well on the motorway. Plus, if you want more power, there are 185PS diesel and 177PS petrol alternatives.

The Tucson features several drive modes: being Normal, Eco and Sport. In the latter, the steering is nicely weighted and throttle response sharpened. It actually makes the Tucson an enjoyable car on a B-road. I just wished for some steering wheel mounted gear shift paddles, as the manual mode being on the gear shifter was less involving when you got pedalling. Body roll is present, but not as badly as you would expect from such a big car. The aforementioned bolstered seats helped hold you in place, giving you the confidence to push harder. My test car was a 2WD version, but with only 141PS it didn’t struggle for grip. If you want a more reassured drive in even the toughest conditions, then there are a few 4WD options to choose from, although sadly none of them with the DCT.

Economy – 10/10

The beauty of the 1.7-litre diesel is that it sips fuel at a rather frugal rate. Even with the 19-inch alloy wheels and DCT gearbox, combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 57.6mpg and 129g/km respectively. That means that you can go further on a tank of fuel and spend less time at the pumps. In terms of VED, the 1.7-diesel 2WD DCT will cost £160 when you register the vehicle, and then £140 every year thereafter. The DCT gearbox is more fuel efficient than a traditional automatic, and the use of start/stop technology helps reduce emissions. If you go for the 2.0-litre diesel with 185PS and 4WD, you’ll pay an initial £500 and the same £140 thereafter.

Practicality – 10/10

If you decide to make a Tucson your next family vehicle, you can rest assured you will have made a sensible choice. For starters, the external size of the vehicle translates to a roomy cabin both front and back. The boot was plenty big enough for two dogs or a weekly big shop, and would cope with the family luggage at holiday time. I had the range-topping Premium SE on test, and that meant I had an abundance of technology on board to make life easier. The front seats are heated and cooled. The rear outer seats are also heated. You get satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio. In addition there’s a host of safety equipment, including rear cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and an electric parking brake with auto hold function. Keyless entry and go completes what is a comprehensive package.

Fun – 7/10

So how does the Tucson make you feel behind the wheel? Does it fill you with an urge to go and drive? Frankly, no. But it does come close. In sport mode, on a nice quiet B-road, the Tucson was good fun. It needed the paddles to have a more involving drive, and a little more power wouldn’t go amiss. Having previously driven the 1.6-litre turbo petrol I can certainly say that had a bit more oomph about it. The overriding problem is that this car feels like its sole purpose is for practicality. That’s fantastic when you’re on a family day out. But when you find yourself in the car alone, it just lacks that smile factor. Great on a commute, but I can think of much better companions for the scenic route.

Concluding Remarks

If I were to go out and buy a Tucson, I have to confess it wouldn’t be this one. I love the DCT gearbox, but found myself wanting a bit more oomph too often to live with it full time. Happily there are other options available: either a 2.0-litre diesel 185PS with AWD, or the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol 177PS with 2WD. As far as gadgetry goes, you won’t want for much more than the Hyundai offers: my SE Premium test car was comprehensively equipped. And the exterior styling is a winner for me too, with big 19-inch alloy wheels and angular design. The interior didn’t feel quite as premium as I would have liked, but overall the value is there to be seen. The Tucson range starts at £19,705 and for the 2WD SE Premium I tested it’s £30,460 which is fair considering the host of technology on board. So if you’re looking for a family car, hold fire before going to buy that Nissan Quasqai or Kia Sportage: the Hyundai Tucson is well worth a look. And if you want to do just that, head over to your local dealer or visit the Hyundai website.

Total Score – 43/50

Editor-in-chief, Senior Reviewer

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