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.