Hyundai has built a reputation for churning out best-sellers like the Elite i20 hatchback and the Creta SUV. Now, it plans to go more upmarket with the brand new Tucson, a premium SUV that slots between the Creta and the bigger Santa Fe. Hyundai is confident this model will help it capitalize on the ongoing SUV craze.
Like the new Hyundai Elantra sedan, the Tucson wears the company’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design. It looks more like the Santa Fe than the Creta, and many might mistake it for the bigger sibling.
The front is dominated by Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille, flanked by the swept-back headlights. The rear of the Tucson is clean and simple, with the hatch flanked by slim lights. On the whole, this is a soft-roader that looks quite stylish and athletic. The Tucson sits 172mm off the ground.
The Tucson’s interiors look more like the Creta than the Santa Fe. This isn’t too bad since the Creta’s cabin is a good place to be in. There is a two-tone black-and-beige dash finish, as well as an 8-inch touch screen with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay features. The screen even doubles up as the display for the rear-view camera and built-in navigation. In addition, knobs and dials for some of the functions make the system quite easy to use.
The instrument dials are crisp to read and have a 4.2-inch colour screen between the two dials for other vital information. Below the air-con controls are two power sockets and one USB slot. The multi-function steering is leather-wrapped, as are the seats, the armrests and a gear knob.
The driver’s seat is comfortable and features 10-way power adjustment. The space is generous and the legroom at the rear is impressive; the seats even get a reclining feature. The rear seats, however, are quite low-set and the high window-line takes away from the sense of space. That said, you can seat three abreast comfortably, with even the centre passenger getting a three-point seat belt.
The 513-litre boot can be accessed with the auto-opening feature, so the boot-lid pops open if you stand close with the key in your pocket. There’s ample storage space here, and you can even expand the boot via the 60:40 split rear seats.
The automatic transmission options have six airbags, the manual one just two. The anti-skid braking system (ABS) with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) are standard and the top variant also gets electronic stability control, hill start and brake assist.
The Tucson comes loaded with equipment too. The feature list includes keyless entry and go, tilt and telescopic steering, a glovebox with a cooling vent and dual-zone climate control.
Hyundai offers both petrol and diesel options in the Tucson, and both can be paired with a six-speed automatic or manual gearbox. The cars we tested are the automatic petrol and diesel models. The petrol is a 155hp 2.0-litre unit from the Elantra. But while this engine feels sprightly on the Elantra, it doesn’t feel that lively in the heavier Tucson. It’s fine for daily driving, but not good for outright performance. Moreover, the engine becomes quite audible and feels strained when you push it.
The 185hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, on the other hand is quite powerful. Not only does it have plenty of pulling power, it’s smooth. The gearbox, too, is smooth and quick, and while you do miss the paddle shifters, it works quite well in the Sport mode. What makes driving this Tucson effortless is that the engine’s refined nature masks speed really well and stability is so good that you won’t realize how fast you are going. The diesel is clearly the one to pick.
The Tucson rides quite well, and there’s enough grip on offer. However, while it can be driven briskly, it isn’t a car that enjoys being pushed hard.
With prices for the petrol ranging from Rs18.99-21.79 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Tucson is cheaper than its chief rival, the Honda CR-V (Rs22.37 lakh onwards, ex-showroom Delhi). The diesel variants priced at Rs21.64-24.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) are likely to be the popular picks.
Overall, the Tucson is a smart-looking SUV that’s spacious, well put together and comes with good levels of equipment. It is more focused on delivering a comfortable drive. The petrol variants are competitively priced, but price-wise, the diesel variants will have to contend with the challenge from bigger, tougher SUVs like the Ford Endeavour. However, if you are on the lookout for a modern SUV that’s perfect for the city and the odd weekend getaway, the Tucson fits the bill perfectly.