We test-drive the all-new Hyundai Tucson compact SUV, powered by a suddenly fashionable non-scandalous petrol engine.
What is it?
The new Hyundai Tucson is a replacement for the old ix35, which itself was a replacement for the original Tucson. All of which means this is the latest arrival in the ever-burgeoning compact SUV and crossover segment. We tested a close to top-spec Premium edition with a suddenly quite-fashionable 1.6-litre petrol engine.
What are its rivals?
Buyers are spoilt for choice in this sector. The Nissan Qashqai is the runaway leader, clocking up 50,000 sales in 2015 alone. Renault’s Kadjar and Mazda’s updated CX-5 are new kid on the block and there are old favourites such as the Ford Kuga. You can understand Hyundai’s decision to dust off the old Tucson name. It gives the car an identity.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: which engines does it use?
There’s a choice of two 1.6 petrol engines, including the 174hp T-GDI turbocharged unit, as tested here. The 1.7-litre diesel is likely to be the best seller in the UK, but there are also two 2.0-litre diesels to choose from. The 1.6 T-GDI has a top speed of 125mph and will accelerate to 62mph in 9.1 seconds. Performance is perfectly adequate for this type of car.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: what’s it like to drive?
Really rather good. The Hyundai Tucson offers a commanding driving position so loved by buyers in this segment. On the road it feels sure-footed and body roll is largely kept in check. We’d stop short of saying the Tucson is great fun to drive, but it corners well and the steering is positive. There’s a needless Sport mode, which adds little, if anything, to the car’s character.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: fuel economy and running costs
Clearly, the diesel engines will be the better option if economy tops the list of your priorities. That said, in light of the diesel emissions scandal, you may be considering a petrol-engined Tucson. The combined 37.7mpg and 175g/km CO2 emissions are respectable. And remember, if many of your journeys are short, a petrol engine will make more sense.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: is it practical?
Absolutely. It feels spacious in the front, while rear seats passengers will revel in the amount of head- and leg-room. Thanks to a shallow transmission tunnel, the centre seat is also perfectly acceptable for adults, at least on short trips. There’s 513 litres of boot space, although this drops to 488 litres when the spare wheel (standard on SE and above) is fitted.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: what about safety?
The Hyundai Tucson has been awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, scoring 86% and 85% for adult and child occupant safety, respectively. Safety technology is a big thing for Hyundai, so you can expect a full range of active and passive safety devices across the range. Premium and Premium SE models gain autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: which version should I go for?
Prices start at £18,695 for the 1.6-litre petrol in basic S trim. Hyundai expects the majority of UK cars to be powered by the 1.7-litre diesel, which offers the best balance of performance and economy. But don’t rule out the 1.6 T-GDI, which is smooth, quiet, refined and almost car-like. Our test car cost £28,980, which includes metallic paint at £585.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: should I buy one?
Most certainly. We’re very impressed with new Hyundai Tucson, which is more than a match for the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai. This is a far more impressive compact SUV than the ix35 it replaces, with a premium-quality interior, high-level of specification and a general feel good factor. It’s a car we’d be happy to spend much more time in.
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDI: pub fact
Four-wheel drive is available as an option on selected trim levels when powered by the 2.0-litre CRDi and 1.6 T-GDI engines. Although it won’t offer the same off-road prowess of a Land Rover, it’ll be perfectly suited to gravel tracks and grassy car parks. And Hill Descent Control is a welcome addition.