Hyundai plugs the gap between the Creta and the Sante Fe with the brand new Tucson. Yes, it looks very good indeed, but does it tick all the other boxes as well?
Research suggests that there’s about a 50:50 chance that your next new car will be an SUV. And if you already drive an SUV, there’s more than a good chance that your next car will also be an SUV or crossover.
So, it’s a good time then for Hyundai to bolster its SUV portfolio. The Creta has been a runaway success, while the Sante Fe caters to a more limited segment that demands an extra dose of space and comfort. And while Hyundai is still developing its sub-four metre compact SUV, the Tucson fits neatly in between the Creta and Sante Fe.
It was the previous generation Tucson that heralded the fluidic sculpture design philosophy at Hyundai, which not only unites the entire range but also makes the currently line-up of products look cutting edge and quite premium. The previous generation of the Tucson never made it to our shores however. The first generation did, but at the time the crossover segment was quite niche. Plus, the car itself was a bit bug-eyed and nowhere near as nice a sight to behold as this.
The first thing that strikes you about the Tucson is the way it looks. It certainly appears cutting edge and very upmarket indeed. The hexagonal grille gives it’s a distinct identity, while the double-barrel LED headlamps and daytime running lamps make it stand out on the road. In profile, the 18-inch wheels look stunning and, at the rear, the i20-esque taillights seems to work quite well – while the twin exhaust tips in chrome add a bit of muscle to the rear.
On the inside, it’s much the same story. The black and beige interiors give the cabin a sense of space and are very inviting. Space is never an issue, and the seats are beautifully sculpted – both front and back. The driver’s seat is ten-way adjustable, and the steering column is telescopic – fortunately – so finding the perfect driving position simply isn’t an issue. Cabin quality is definitely a step up from the Creta, but, of course, it’s the tech that impresses. The 8-inch touchscreen offers navigation, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s an electronic parking brake, with an Auto Hold function – which is very useful in stop-and-go traffic, and something you would normally find in much higher end machines. The rear tailgate is powered, and it opens even if you gingerly wave your foot around under the rear bumper – provided you have the key in your pocket of course, otherwise you’d see a lot of car thieves attempting to play footsie with this pretty Korean.
There are two drivetrain options – a 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces 152bhp and 192Nm of torque, and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that produces 182bhp and 400Nm of torque. Both engines can be had with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox. We drove only the top-of-the-range diesel automatic, which was extremely punchy in the mid-range. There’s virtually no turbo lag as you summon some juice from the motor. The automatic gearbox kicks down quickly and the Tucson surges forward as it rides a wave of torque all the way to 4,500rpm. And it stays refined even at the upper reaches of the rev range.
There is a Drive Mode button, which allows you to engage ‘Sport.’ It’s meant to sharpen the throttle and make the steering more responsive, but its impact is mild at best. The steering itself has a slightly rubbery feel, and engaging Sport doesn’t really help. The throttle does get sharper, but it also induces occasional torque steer if you’re overly enthusiastic and the road surface is less than perfect. The one feature that the Tuscon could have done with, though, is steering-mounted paddles to change gears. Attempting to use the gear lever in Manual mode is a futile exercise, since the transmission only rarely listens to your commands.
The standout quality in the Tucson, however, is the ride. Despite the 18-inch wheels, it simply carpets any surface you can throw at it. Bumps, ditches and potholes that could swallow a Nano whole are entirely dismissed by the Tucson. And, at the same time, high-speed stability is very impressive too. The Elantra set the bar for Hyundai, and it’s matched by the Tucson – although this does have more roll than a sedan like the Elantra. That said, the Tucson would be the perfect machine in which to drive across the country. At the same time, it’s also perfect for the city – and it’s this combination of utility, space, comfort and refinement that makes this segment so attractive. The Tucson really does make you question the utility of entry-level luxury SUV’s from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Sure, they have better driving dynamics – and a more attractive badge! But, other than those two attributes, the Tucson wins on all counts.
The only other feature you could ask for is a sunroof, which is missing. And, of course, it doesn’t have all-wheel drive – which rules out that off-road excursion, should you have one planned. But since the odds of you going off-road are slim-to-none, it seems that Hyundai – with the looks, features and refinement of the Tucson – has another ace up its sleeve. And this really does beg the question – how many jokers in the pack can one company hold? Hyundai, then, is a veritable circus. But it’s a highly successful one – the Cirque du Soleil perhaps!
- Hyundai Tucson
Engine: 1,995cc / 4-Cylinders / 16-Valves / Turbocharged
Power: 182bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic / Front-Wheel Drive
Price: Rs 24.99 lakhs (ex-showroom, Delhi)