Can a crossover SUV be something that can integrate into the realm of EngageSportMode? Actually, in the case of the Hyundai Tucson, yes it can. Read on to find out just how.
After reviewing the all-new Tucson on the UK launch event back in August for Motoring Research, Hyundai were keen that we also try the 1.7 CRDi engine variant, given that it should be the best seller. Which meant a Ruby Wine SE Nav Tucson appeared on the ESM driveway one morning, with seven days to see how this crossover SUV works in real life.
Driving it on local roads immediately highlighted a number of things, including just how good the ride quality is. The launch versions we drove rode on 19” alloy wheels that had only a minor discernible impact on ride comfort. So, with the larger 225/60 profile tyres of the SE Nav version, progress was even more comfortable across broken tarmac.
Compared to a lowdown hatchback, the raised driving position of the Tucson was also a benefit, and did demonstrate part of the reason why the segment continues to grow. Despite the height, the Tucson avoids pitching and wallowing, with tight body control and accurate steering. The Tucson does feature a sport mode but in manual gearbox cars, this only makes a difference to the steering. In all honesty, we couldn’t really tell the difference when it was activated, so minimal was the effect.
Would a crossover SUV buyer even worry about performance? Perhaps not, but it’s worth noting that the 116PS 1.7-litre CRDi is the slowest engine in the Tucson range, with a 0-62mph time of 13.7 seconds. Whilst the 207lb-ft of torque is enough around town, you might find yourself longing for more twist on faster roads. The 1.7 CRDi engine isn’t a total deal breaker, but it does put the Tucson at odds with its powerful image.
Given the relatively lack of performance, we were interested to see whether the 1.7 CRDi would make up for it with decent fuel consumption. Initial journeys resulted in only 35mpg but after some longer trips, the overall average increased to 41.5mpg. Whilst that might seem some distance from the official EU figure of 61.7mpg, for a crossover SUV like the Tucson it’s pretty reasonable.
However, on launch, the 185PS 2.0-litre CRDi version with AWD and automatic gearbox averaged around 36mpg. That leads us to believe that the lower-powered 136PS 2.0-litre CRDi Tucson, with 2WD and manual gearbox, would actually be the pick of the range. In theory it should offer the best mix of performance and economy without breaking the bank.
Spending a week with the Tucson highlighted another thing; just how many C-segment crossover SUVs you see on the roads in the North East. With the Sunderland Nissan plant dominating the region, it means there are an awful lot of Qashqai models in the area. The Tucson therefore scored points for being a credible, good-looking alternative to the Japanese car.
Whilst ESM is hardly one to lecture on style, we did find the blue stitching of the Tucson’s interior clashed with the Ruby Wine paintwork. It’s a minor point, but as the only interior colour available on SE Nav cars, it’s worth considering if you’re a little OCD about aesthetics.
In anything other than direct sunlight, the Ruby Wine paint also had a habit of looking too much like a flat burgundy. The Tucson has some neat exterior design features and deserves a colour that shows these off to the maximum. We’d solve both the above issues by choosing the stunning Ara Blue paint option, which has the added benefit of being the same £585 option as the other metallic and pearlescent varieties.
There’s actually no other options we would have on a Tucson (partly because Hyundai doesn’t actually offer any) but also because specification at SE Nav level is properly comprehensive. Aside from the eponymous 8” touchscreen Sat Nav system with reversing camera and TomTom Live updates, there’s a wealth of kit such as heated front seats, cruise control, DAB radio, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and a multitude of 12V sockets. Seriously, they’re everywhere.
What did impress was how well it all worked. The Bluetooth mobile phone connection worked seamlessly, streaming music and taking calls without hassle. The Lane Keeping Assist system was also an effective vision of our autonomous driving future, gently nudging the Tucson along the lanes of a dual carriageway. A worthy mention is also needed for the Speed Limit Information system, with a camera accurate enough to spot the smallest 10mph sign in a car park. The combination of reversing camera and parking sensors also made the Tucson unintimidating to manoeuvre.
Inside everything is clear and logical, and that adds to the effectiveness of the Tucson. Although it might not have the extroverted design of premium rivals, the interior is solid enough not to feel like a compromise. It’s also impressively spacious – in both the front and back – along with a sizeable luggage capacity of 488 litres even with the full size spare alloy wheel. That’s better than a Nissan Qashqai and the new Renault Kadjar, and gives you space for all your inevitable lifestyle paraphernalia.
Ultimately, the Tucson proved to be as easy and useful to live with as it had appeared on the initial launch event. Only the lacklustre 1.7-litre CRDi engine made any attempt at spoiling the show and, for some, might not be such a major problem. The Tucson’s standout feature is its ability to integrate trouble-free into everyday life, doing all the things you could ask of a crossover SUV.
For the market it exists in, that uncomplicated nature, the competitive pricing and generous specification make the Tucson a very convincing option. We would have no hesitation in recommending it, other than to consider the 2.0-litre CRDi engine. Whilst it might not be an obvious car for ESM to eulogise about, we admire its no-nonsense attitude and commendable value for money.
ESM Verdict: 7.5/10
Specs – Hyundai Tucson SE Nav 1.7 CRDi
Engine: 1.7-litre CRDi four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power: 116PS (114bhp)
Torque: 280NM (207lb-ft)
0-62mph: 13.7 seconds
Top Speed: 109mph
Economy: 61.7mpg (official combined)
OTR Price: £22,795
As Tested: £23,380 (Ruby Wine metallic paint – £585)