The ‘I’s have been dotted and the ‘T’s crossed on Hyundai’s compact Tucson SUV. Customers will be tempted with a starting price of £14,995, and with standard kit that includes traction control, lockable four-wheel-drive, air conditioning, electric windows, mirrors and sunroof, a CD player, alloy wheels, front fog lights… the list goes on.
You won’t believe how much more a similarly equipped RAV 4 should set you back. Luckily, Hyundai have thought of that too; now that the Tucson is on sale, we can all stare in slack-jawed awe at the car comparison system on Hyundai’s website, and, one-by-one, pick our limp chins up off the desk, wipe the froth from our dumbstruck faces, and get on the phone to the dealer post haste.
Trouble is that rival dealers’ discounts are likely to cut the Tucson’s price advantage in half, so it’ll need every bit of what’s left to compensate for the shortcomings we identified out in Riga; a stubborn, incompliant ride and general lack of refinement, both of which would be even bigger black marks if manifested on British tarmac, in the range-topping £18,695 V6 CDX tested here.
Better get out the permanent marker then; the Cotswold’s twisty lanes proved just as unsettling for the newcomer. Small peaks and troughs in the road surface disturb the Tucson’s progress, so that a modest bump is amplified and revisited in spirit three or four times over. Softer springs and a more relaxed gait would suit a range-topping auto much better.
Where the Tucson benefits is with commendable body control. Complimented by steering that feels meaty and quicker than you’d expect, the Tucson’s springs maintain impressive composure as you guide the its nose left and right.
If the powertrain was as keen, it might make for a firm but capable drive on and off road, but instead Hyundai’s short-stroke 2.7-litre V6 is lumbered with the maker’s typically touchy throttle pedal and stock four-speed automatic transmission – and there’s no manual substitute available.
Despite spinning freely up to its 6000rpm power peak, four tall ratios never give the V6 a chance to knuckle down; it’s a strange choice of engine for a car like this, mismatched with an unflattering set of ratios.