The full-size SUV segment may be booming with constant flow of new models but the same cannot be said for the diminishing premium crossover segment. Currently you will only find Honda’s CR-V maintaining a low-key presence in this space. Now however, things are about to heat up considerably with the all-new Hyundai Tucson. Featuring a well-balanced design, tons of features and an all-new diesel engine, the Tucson is out to turn into yet another success story for Hyundai India.
Hyundai has become something of a design leader in recent times; there’s a good number of elements that would attract one to the Creta and the Elantra and the new Tucson is no different. Regardless of the fact that crossovers are often more about function than form the Tucson looks good and, more importantly, well proportionate as well. Up front, there’s the familiar hexagonal-shaped grille and LED twin-projector headlights. The grille though is reminiscent of newer Audis with its chrome edges blending into the headlights. The other thing that stands out is the prominent hood crease that adds muscle to the front-end of the vehicle.
The Tucson's roof rails are quite low-profile, perhaps for an integrated, functional look. From the rear, a Z-shaped character line above the rear wheels accentuates the strong haunches – a design feature found in many crossovers. The rear-end though is too soft and simple in comparison thanks to the curved rear screen and the i20-like slim taillights.
Following a fairly long stint behind the wheel, we can say that the Tucson’s cabin is a nice place to spend time in. The dual-tone dashboard may not be terribly exciting to look at but in that typical Hyundai fashion, its superbly put together and well laid out too. Most of the interior is lined in quality fabrics and soft-touch plastics which help create an ambience worthy of the Tucson’s price tag.
Some might view the lack of sharp creases and contours inside the cabin as a sign of lesser quality but that’s certainly not the case here. The simple and effective way in which the interior has been designed ensures the Tucson is always relaxing to drive. Speaking of relaxing, the front seats are near perfect when it comes to width and under thigh support. Covered in quality leather trim, they are comfortable and supple enough without being too soft. At 2670mm, the Tucson has an impressively long wheelbase for its size and this shows in the second row. The rear legroom is akin to some of the full-size SUVs and the rear bench itself is generously accommodating. In order to liberate more headroom, Hyundai has set the rear bench quite low though it’s not to the point that it is uncomfortable. What’s uncomfortable though is the rear middle seat comfort, partly due to the hard backrest and partly because of a big hump in the central tunnel. The wide opening boot, meanwhile, is rated at 513-litres with all the seats in place. If you ask us it’s easily enough for a family’s worth of luggage for a weekend away.
Being a premium Hyundai, the Tucson is generously equipped. Even the entry-level variant gets electrically foldable ORVMs, automatic headlamps, puddle lamps, cruise control and Hyundai’s new eight inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.
As for the top-spec variant, there’s LED headlamps, LED static bending lights, dual-zone climate control, 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, electric tailgate and an electronic parking brake as well. Hyundai hasn’t skimped on safety either, with standard kit including electronic stability control, vehicle stability management, hill assist and downhill brake assist, besides 6 airbags and ABS with EBD. Oddly enough, there are no automatic wipers or a sunroof – features that are available in less expensive Hyundai models.
The new Tucson is available with two engine options – a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre diesel. We drove the diesel-powered model which is expected to be the higher selling of the two. This engine produces 182bhp and a healthy 400Nm of torque between 1,750 and 2,750rpm.
As you would expect, that broad spread of torque low down the rev -range makes the Tucson truly effortless around town. What adds to the impressive low speed manners is the 6-speed automatic gearbox which allows for silky smooth shifts – be it upshifts or downshifts. However, like in the Elantra this gearbox tends to be aggressive at times, holding on to gears for longer instead of relying on the torque and upshifting early. That said, in everyday ECO mode the gearbox goes about its business in a relaxing manner.
This new 2.0-litre engine though lacks top-end grunt and is noticeably less refined than the 1.6-litre unit found in the Elantra. But less refinement is hardly a bother thanks to the remarkably low NVH levels. Out on the open road, the Tucson is amazingly quiet with little in terms of engine, tire or wind noise filtering into the cabin. Even at highway speeds there’s barely any engine noise unless you floor the throttle.
In the handling department, the Tucson lacks the hunkered-down, car-like vigour of the Honda CR-V. The lightly weighted steering feels best around town but feels vague around the straight-ahead position. Overall, the steering reaction is consistent, if slow, at high speeds. As for the all-important ride quality, the low speed ride is plush and absorbent even on bad roads. However, up the pace and it’s a whole different story – the Tucson tends to bounce over undulations and requires a second or two to settle. We suspect much of this is down to the softer suspension setup. And because it is softly sprung, the Tucson doesn’t react very well to mid-corner undulations either as the rear-end feels skittish at higher speeds.
In the current scheme of things, the Hyundai Tucson is at a big advantage given the lack of options in the premium urban crossover segment. However, times will change and so will the Tucson’s prospects in the Indian market. Come 2017 and there will be newfound competition in the form of the Jeep Compass and the Volkswagen Tiguan. Until then, the Tucson and the CR-V have got the segment pretty much to themselves.
With ex-showroom Delhi prices ranging between Rs 18.99 lakh and Rs 24.99 lakh, the Tucson is decent value for money and it will no doubt be reliable through the years. What’s more, it looks really well balanced and packs in some ultra-premium features (Read: electric tailgate, electronic parking brake) too. Add to that the highly functional and well built cabin and the Tucson is clearly the one to shortlist if you’re out looking for a sub-25 lakh premium vehicle.
Pictures by: Kapil Angane