First DriveDoes Hyundai’s entry-level diesel leave us feeling short-changed? We drive it on UK roads to find out
First DriveHyundai's new crossover has great potential and a winning character that should have Nissan and Ford worried
What is it?
Not a 4x4: this is a two-wheel drive version of Hyundai’s compact Tucson SUV. It lacks the off-road ability of its four-wheel drive sisters, but the front-drive architecture, diesel engine and manual gearbox have helped Hyundai to trim CO2 emissions and boost fuel economy.
Hyundai has offered front-drive Tucsons before now, but only with either the wrong engine (the wheezy 2.0-litre petrol) or the wrong gearbox (Hyundai’s clunky four-speed auto). The new car gets the firm’s newer 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel and a six-speed manual ‘box.
What’s it like?
Acceptable, as long as you’re not expecting too much. Material quality and its general dynamic deportment barely made the grade when the Tucson was launched back in 2004, and since then more modern rivals have moved the game on dramatically.
To be blunt, Hyundai hasn’t refined this car enough to keep up with the pace of improvement. The dash is largely hard, grey, vaguely textured plastic, the steering wheel’s the same monotone grey; and while there’s nothing wrong with the fit or solidity of any of the materials, they’re just not appealing enough.
Which is a shame, because when you start moving along in this car, its case gets markedly stronger. This is a car that steers with more-than-acceptable precision, rides with a decent compromise between refinement and body control, and actually performs with as much urgency as you could expect of such a tall, heavy, four-cylinder diesel family car.
Although Hyundai quotes 11.1sec for the 0-62mph dash, the Tucson feels brisker than that would suggest on the road, and it’s both easy to pilot from that old-school, lofty driving position, and surprisingly willing to be hurried.
Should I buy one?
If you’ve got your sensible hat on, the two-wheel drive CRDi Tucson makes a decent case for itself. It’s capable of better than 40mpg and its VED rating is reasonable by compact SUV standards.
Equipment levels are keen, with climate and cruise control and rear parking sensors – all for considerably less than more prestigious competition. If you’re looking for a family SUV on the cheap, and you can live with being reminded of how cheap you’re getting it every time you look at the dashboard, you could do worse than buy this Tucson.