The new Hyundai Tucson is the latest in a long line of crossovers to go up against the class-leading Nissan Qashqai. It is a slightly larger replacement for the now-superseded ix35.
Even before turning a wheel, the Tucson has much in its favour. For example, it comes with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty. That eclipses the vast majority of its rivals, which typically feature three-year, 60,000-mile warranties.
Even in SE Nav specification the Tucson comes with plenty of kit
There’s a sense from the outset that the Tucson has been designed to be painless to live with. From its simple push-to-open fuel filler door to the easily dropped rear seats, every aspect appears pleasingly straightforward.
Hit the road and this theme continues. Urban and country roads are tackled with ease, rarely troubling the driver and passengers. The 2.0-litre diesel engine doesn’t feel particularly muscular, despite producing 275lb ft, but it rarely frustrates, isn’t overly intrusive and grants adequate acceleration.
That’s in part thanks to a precise, easily shifted six-speed manual gearbox with its well-spaced ratios. An automatic four-wheel drive system, which can send up to 50% of the available torque to the rear, provides plenty of traction.
Carrying speed through corners proves no major issue because the Tucson has a keen front end and impressive body control. It rides in a fine, well-damped fashion, but this version was a little harsh over broken roads with its 19in wheels.
There’s little in the way of feedback through the steering, though, and the woollen feel around the dead-ahead is a further negative, but it’s otherwise precise and well-weighted. Braking power is decent and easily modulated with a satisfyingly snatch-free response at lower speeds.
Some may find this Hyundai’s lack of engine and steering verve disappointing but, given the Tucson’s intended market, it’s not a huge strike against it. That said, although there’s not much here for the keener driver, there is pleasure to be found in the way the Tucson smoothly, competently and comfortably gets down the road.
The cabin is hardly inspirational to look at but scores for practicality. There’s stacks of room, plenty of storage space, comfortable seating for five adults and a vast load bay. Equipment levels are impressive helping to justify the £28,000 list price somewhat. As standard, this Premium version includes dual-zone climate control, satellite navigation with an 8.0in display, DAB radio, cruise control, heated seats all round, traffic sign recognition and automatic emergency braking.
There are four other trim levels to choose from: S, SE, SE Nav and Premium SE. The entry level spec equips the Tucson with air con, LED day running lights, automatic lights and wipers and heated door mirrors, while the flagship Premium SE adds parking assist, heated steering wheel, LED headlights and a panoramic sunroof to the Premium trim.
Only dull, hard and easily marked plastics let the cabin down – a shame when you consider the attention to detail elsewhere. A full-size spare wheel is standard, for example, and bag hooks in the load bay reduce the chances of spilling the weekly shop.
This diesel may not measure up on the efficiency front, though. Hyundai claims 54.3mpg, but following our test across a mix of roads, the trip computer reported an average of 38.2mpg. That would still result in a range of more than 520 miles, though, thanks to a 62-litre tank.
Those in the market for a crossover should definitely consider the smart, capable, practical and likeable Tucson – but not in this particular specification.
We’d go for the SE Nav version instead, with the quieter and more efficient 1.7-litre diesel. It doesn’t do away with too many luxuries and, in the real world, doesn’t feel much slower than the 2.0-litre diesel tested here. More pertinent, it’ll cost you some £5000 less. There is also a 182bhp 2.0-litre diesel, 130bhp 1.6-litre petrol and a 175bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine to choose from.
Admittedly, that model isn’t available with four-wheel drive, but that’s unlikely to spook many buyers. Put some of the saving towards a set of winter tyres instead and enjoy.
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi 136ps Premium 4WD
Price £28,075 Engine 4cyls, 1995cc, diesel; Power 134bhp 2750-4000rpm; Torque 275lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; 0-62mph 10.9sec; Top speed114mph;Gearbox6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1662kg; Economy 54.3mpg (combined); CO2 139g/km, 25%
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