The next-generation of Hyundai’s compact SUV, featuring a new engine and tech, but a familiar new name, was launched in the Western Cape. We drove it and here’s what you need to know.
The first-generation Hyundai Tucson was quite a sales success. It became the Hyundai ix35 with the second generation and while Hyundai South Africa doesn’t publish its sales figures for all to see, it showed the media contingent at the newcomer's launch event how well this product has done locally. Sitting in the top three of the segment is no mean feat and goes to show how well-received the Hyundai ix35 has been in the domestic market.
For the third generation model, Hyundai has reverted back to the Tucson name. The exterior is visually striking and the car positively oozes European design flair. We would go as far as to say it’s the best-looking vehicle in its segment...
Hyundai has joined the ranks of its competitors by offering a small-capacity turbocharged motor. This 1.6-litre turbocharged motor is identical to the one in the performance-orientated Hyundai Veloster Turbo, a vehicle that we weren’t particularly enamoured with. However, in Tucson application and with a re-engineered version of the DCT ‘box, things have dramatically improved. That twin-clutch transmission was the weak point in the Veloster Turbo, but the addition of new internals plus an extra cog has meant things are vastly better.
The only vehicles on offer at launch were the 1.6-litre turbos, both in manual and DCT options. There’s also a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated motor. You may wonder why there’s no turbodiesel derivative, especially considering how pleasant the 1.7-litre Hyundai ix35 was. Hyundai said it’s looking at bringing them in, but the new 1.7-litre motor is EURO6, meaning our diesel quality (or lack thereof) is under scrutiny. As you read this, Hyundai SA is testing this motor and if it passes, we’ll see an introduction of a diesel Tucson later in 2016. That engine is rated at 107kW and 340Nm, but its real strength will be fuel economy and running costs.
How does it drive?
Rather well, as it turns out! Hyundai recruited several European engineers who were tasked with making Hyundai a force to be reckoned with in terms of cabin refinement and ride quality. Have they succeeded? We think so, as the Tucson rides well and the lack of intrusive road noise was particularly noticeable. The engine and gearbox work well together and you have the option of two driving modes; Sport and Eco. Sport sharpens things up a bit, but even in Eco you’re never left feeling that the car could do with a bit more grunt. The motor produces 130kW and 265Nm – more than adequate outputs for a vehicle of the Tucson's size...
Our launch route took us on a combination of open roads through the Swartland, where the turbocharged motor proved capable of delivering plenty of torque for overtaking. We also traversed many kilometres of gravel and farm roads, and the vehicle was stable when driven briskly on tarred surfaces. The all-wheel drive model was particularly at home in this environment. While we spent the majority of our time in a DCT-equipped unit, we also sampled a model with a manual gearbox and found the shift action smooth and direct. Overall, the Hyundai feels a premium product from behind the wheel.
Entry/exit to/from the cabin is easy because you don’t climb up and into the seats (as is the case with bigger SUVs these days) and the driving position is pleasant. The cabin feels well put together, but it’s unmistakably Hyundai in that although it is luxurious, it’s not quite as premium as the Koreans have made it out to be. That’s not a bad thing, remember that, price-wise, the Tucson is still under the R500 000 barrier, unlike similarly sized German-made SUVs. You can get satnav on the top-spec model as an option, but given the fact that the infotainment system supports Android connectivity, there’s no real point as you can always utilise Google Maps and besides, the new infotainment system is perfectly adequate.
In closing, the Tucson is an accomplished product both in terms of execution and looks. It’s a pretty car, but there’s so much more to the Hyundai than just visual appeal. The rejigged DCT ‘box is excellent and works well in conjunction with the 1.6-litre turbocharged motor. The specification is generous and the build quality moves the brand up a notch (in our books).
It’s Hyundai’s finest product in its arsenal right now and you’d be unwise not to give it a closer look. Its prices aren’t prohibitively dear either. Suffice to say if our Rand had taken less of a battering, this Hyundai Tucson could have come to market with even more competitive pricing. We look forward to giving this new Korean a thorough road test.
Hyundai Tucson prices in South Africa
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Premium (manual) R359 900
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Premium (automatic) R379 900
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Elite (automatic) R439 900
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Executive (manual) R419 900
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Elite DCT AWD R499 900
All models from the Hyundai Tucson range have a 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer’s warranty, enhanced by the additional new groundbreaking 7-years/200 000 km drivetrain warranty as standard. Roadside assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan with service intervals at 15 000 km are also included.