Impressive new Hyundai Tucson has an ace up its sleeve

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The fourth generation Hyundai Tucson has raised the bar in the C-SUV segment.

Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have long been the automotive world’s most predominant body shape.

Manufacturers are relentlessly beating the SUV drum, trying to capitalise on every bit of market share. This has led not only to endless segments being created, but these also getting flooded over time.

As a result, the rivalry in some segments is so intense that there are very little to choose between various offerings.

That is the ideal time for a carmaker to have an ace up its sleeve, like the one Hyundai presented with the introduction of the new Tucson this month.

Dying breed

The Hyundai Tucson was one of the first local players in the C-SUV segment when it was rolled out in 2004.

And over the last 18 years the Tucson – which was called the ix35 from 2010 to 2016 – has become a popular choice among South African buyers.

But so have its main rivals; the Toyota RAV4, the Kia Sportage, the VW Tiguan, Nissan X-Trail and the Mazda CX-5.

So what is Hyundai’s party trick to differentiate the fourth generation Tucson from the usual suspects in the comparison charts? Good ol’ diesel power. And sommer plenty of it.

In addition to the one petrol engine which it offers in three trim levels, Premium, Executive and Elite, the Korean carmaker has reserved its sole diesel derivative exclusively for the top-spec R699 900 Hyundai Tucson Elite.

And the oomph on offer makes it a proper figure head for the updated range.

The improved Smartstream 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine features a power bump of 7kW/16Nm over its predecessor to produce 137 kW of power available at 4 000 rpm and 416 Nm of torque available at between 2 000 rpm and 2 750 rpm.

This is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Claimed fuel consumption is 7.9 L/100 km on a combined cycle and we managed a number as low as 6.8 L/100 km on our 232 km open road launch drive.

Striking new taillights are prominent at the rear.

Proper diesel offering

The diesel mill’s impressive performance was a timely reminder of why oil-burners done right were such a popular choice.

Little turbo lag, decent acceleration and heaps of torque channelled through a smooth gearbox makes the drive a thoroughly enjoyable one. Without costing you an arm and a leg at the pump.

We also got to sample the new Tucson’s updated suspension with increased sound insulation in the wheel guards on proper gravel roads and were very impressed with how smooth and quiet it handled the dirt. This also goes to show that you don’t all-wheel-drive on dirt roads in fairly decent condition.

Diesel engines have become a dying breed in the C-SUV segment with oil-burners no longer offered in the Tiguan, Sportage and RAV4.

With the X-Trail’s 1.6-litre diesel mill’s 96kW/320Nm performance trailing the new Tucson by a country mile, the most realistic rival for the diesel Hyundai is the CX-5.

The competition

The CX-5 AWD Akera’s 2.2-litre turbodiesel mill produces 140kW/450Nm. Unlike the new Hyundai Tucson that is only front-wheel-driven, this CX-5 is only offered in all-wheel-drive, but at a premium being more than R21k expensive at R721 100.

A left-field rival is the BMW X1, of which the entry-level diesel derivative, the sDrive18d, costs R679 582. But its 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine is down on power at 110kW/330Nm and being a premium product, trails the new Hyundai Tucson in terms of standard specifications.

With the global car industry veering away from diesel engines and more towards electrified alternatives, diesel options in passenger cars are bound to get more limited in future.

Oil-burners will likely become sought-after commodities, which will mean Hyundai’s persistence with diesel in the Tucson might just be looked back upon as being a masterstroke.

Petrol options

The petrol derivatives offered in the new Hyundai Tucson are powered by the updated Smartstream 2.0-litre MPI mill.

This normally aspirated engine’s 115kW/192Nm outputs remains unchanged from the third generation Hyundai Tucson and is mated to six-speed automatic transmission. Claimed fuel consumption is 8.9 L/100 km.

The new Tucson’s daytime running lights are incorporated into the grille

Built on the N3 platform, the new Tucson is the first Hyundai SUV to incorporate the carmaker’s ‘Sensuous Sportines’ design identity.

Geometric patterns Hyundai calls parametric jewels are standout features on the front grille and distinctive taillights.

The daytime running lights have been cleverly incorporated into the dark chrome front grille with no clear distinction visible between the grille and the lights when switched off.

When switched on, the flanks of the grille transform into striking jewel-like shapes through what is called half-mirror technology.

Comfortable cabin

The sleek modern theme continues inside with the multimedia screen moving down into the centre console to form a full touchscreen console that operates both the infotainment system and climate settings.

The third generation’s analogue digital cluster makes way for a 10.25-inch digital display similar to the Hyundai Staria.

Heated front seats are standard across the range, with artificial leather seats standard in Executive and Elite spec and ventilated front seats standard on the Elite.

A new centre console and digital instrument cluster stand out in the new Tucson’s cabin.

An 150 mm increase in length means that the new Hyundai Tucson benefits from more legroom for rear passengers and an additional 26 litres of bootspace for a total of 539-litres.

Standard across the range is six airbags, with the Elite trim level featuring comprehensive Hyundai SmartSense active safety and driving assistance systems.

Conclusion

The new Hyundai Tucson is well-specced and offers good value throughout the range, but the diesel remains the undisputed crown jewel.

Hyundai has retained its presence in a space where others have thrown in the towel and could be handsomely rewarded for it in a country moving towards electrification at a snail’s pace.

Pricing

Tucson 2.0 Premium AT – R519 900
Tucson 2.0 Executive AT – R569 900
Tucson 2.0 Elite AT – R634 900
Tucson 2.0d Elite AT – R699 900

Included as standard is a seven-year/200 000 km manufacturer’s warranty and six-year/90 000 km service plan.

For more information on the new Hyundai Tucson. click here.

The Citizen/Jaco Van Der Merwe