With the addition of all-wheel drive, the Tucson becomes even more capable than before. The question is, will you ever use this enhanced capability?
One of the strange anomalies that we see these days is the addition of all-wheel drive in premium SUVs simply to make the vehicle’s owner feel better. You see, most customers that I’ve interacted with over the years openly accept that their SUV’s almost never go off the pavement – let alone being used for off-roading. Sure, off-roading as a weekend activity is gaining ground, but those vehicles are decidedly more basic and far more hardcore.
I suppose, then, that in a fiercely competitive market, most manufacturers offer all or four-wheel drive functionality more as a game of one-upmanship and, in many cases, simply to keep up with the competition. And, for some customers, it’s a reassuring feeling of knowing that their vehicle has off-road capability – even if they never use it. Which brings me to the Tucson, as Hyundai has recently introduced an all-wheel drive variant.
To be honest, I’ve been driving the front-wheel drive version of the Tucson for a while now, and it’s a car that leaves me deeply impressed. Comfortable, powerful, and more importantly, the perfect size for our conditions in urban traffic – the Tucson, in my opinion, makes for a fantastic self-drive SUV. The standard six-speed automatic gearbox is seamless and shifts gears rapidly on its own. The 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine is superbly refined, and with its 400Nm of torque coming in from just 1,750rpm, there’s virtually no turbo lag either. In most cases, when prodded, the Tucson just shoots into traffic gaps and surges ahead effortlessly.
The all-wheel drive, in this case, is what Hyundai calls ‘Intellimatic’ – which is basically an on-demand system. This means that, in most cases, the Tucson remains a front-wheel drive machine – but when the car senses that the front wheels are either losing grip or struggling with grip, it transfers power to the rear wheels to improve traction. Additionally, the Tucson AWD also comes with a 4WD Lock mode, which permanently switches the all-wheel drive system on and transfers power in a 50:50 ratio between the front and rear wheels.
On & off the road
On tarmac, the Tucson is a very capable SUV – offering a car-like driving experience, with superb levels of grip and road holding, mated to a well-tuned suspension. The steering too has a decent amount of feedback. Off the road, though, given its relative lack of ground clearance – 195mm, while great for bad roads and on-road driving – and large front and rear overhangs mean that it’s not really meant to be used for serious off-roading. That being said, we’ve taken the two-wheel drive Tucson into the upper reaches of the Himalayas and even tackled snow and slush. And it’s only in these extremely slippery conditions that we found it struggles – and it’s in these very conditions that the all-wheel drive system would come into its own and enhance the capability of this machine. And with it in 4WD lock mode, the Tucson’s off-road capabilities increase substantially – as the system works well to find traction in slippery conditions. The result, then, is that if you’re looking to buy an SUV that works very well on-road and can handle slippery conditions, the Tucson makes a very strong case for itself. If you’re looking for a pure off-roader though, then you’re better off looking elsewhere. The only major fly in the ointment, though, has been its pricing. With an ex-showroom price of just over Rs. 25 lakh, the Tucson gets dangerously close to its bigger rivals, such as the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour. However, if it a highly refined urban SUV that you’re after that’s just the right size and now even more capable, you simply can’t go wrong with the Tuscon.
Engine: 1,995cc / In-line 4-cylinders / DOHC / Turbocharged
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic / All-Wheel Drive
Power: 182bhp @ 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1,750-2,750rpm
Price: Rs. 25.44 lakh (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-factor:The Tucson offers a great, but pricey, package for those looking for an on-road SUV with some off-road capability.
• Fantastic road manners
• Refined powertrain
• Not a true off-roader
• A little pricey