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First-in-its-class diesel hybrid Tucson isn't as up to date as its rivals inside, nor is it as fun to drive

What is it?

The Tucson is Hyundai’s best-selling car. That’s little surprise, since it’s a direct rival to the Nissan Qashqai. It’s the same width and height, and a hand’s width longer. And, following a facelift, the styling of the two cars are now pretty in line with each other.

Sales are growing, and Hyundai has sold more than 600,000 Tucsons now, although the Qashqai sells more across Europe. The Qashqai even took the Tucson’s title as Ireland’s best-selling car last year — its only European top spot, after the Tucson hed that title for two years.

As the industry moves towards full electrification, Hyundai sees itself as a leader in this area. Across the Hyundai and Kia brands, there are 16 electrified cars planned by 2025.

This model is one of these. It’s a Tucson with a 183bhp 2.0-litre CRDi diesel engine, and a 16bhp, 0.44kWh 48V hybrid system easing the stress of the diesel unit for claimed fuel economy and emissions improvements of 7%. It’s been introduced as part of a subtle midlife refresh that, thankfully, doesn’t change the Tucson’s handsome styling. The plain 2.0 diesel of the pre-facelift car will no longer be offered alone, with a 1.6 diesel taking up the slack.

It’s a system that’ll make it into the Kia Sportage, as well as the Santa Fe, in the next 18 months as Hyundai and Kia move to electrify their ranges. For now, though, this unit acts as the top-spec powertrain in the Tucson, with prices starting at a little more than £32,000.

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What's it like?

Subtle. The mild hybrid system is slickly integrated and laymen could be forgiven for thinking that the car is a regular 2.0 diesel until the batteries’ extra heft gives the game away around corners.

Take a corner quickly and the Tucson shifts its weight palpably to the outside wheels, while the car’s soft suspension, comfortable though it is, makes the car lean over. It’s here that the seats could use some side support, since only drivers unencumbered by extra pounds will manage to stay comfortable in that lean. Out of the corner, the car jerks back vertically like a bobblehead toy.

Sadly, the steering wheel communicates nothing when cornering and is disconcertingly light, with a delay between steering and moving making the Tucson feel like a far larger, lazier car than it actually is. Sport mode makes no noticeable difference, either.

The engine doesn’t complain much when driving regularly, but feels a little breathless under heavier acceleration and uphill. The torque of a plug-in hybrid would have come in far handier in these moments. A slightly more engaged gearbox would take away that mild wince when you’re waiting for an upshift that won’t happen quickly enough.

Inside, a light refresh has kept things feeling reasonably modern, although the Santa Fe, launched on the same day, shows what the next-generation Tucson’s interior will look like in three or four years.

Perhaps the most dated feature is the steering wheel. It’s not as nice to touch or look at as Hyundai’s sleeker version and, as the part of the car most touched and used by the driver, sets a less-than-crisp tone across the interior.

Still, Hyundai has delivered where promised, with a greater use of soft-touch plastics across the top of the dashboard.

Should I buy one?

Truth be told, most probably won’t. It’s a £32,000 diesel hybrid, where a lesser diesel (non-hybrid) costs almost £3000 less, with cheaper benefit-in-kind tax, a lower VED tax band and lower CO2 emissions to boot.

It’s a car that, despite the modernity of its powertrain, has aged more quickly than rivals. And, despite a facelift, the Tucson still feels a little geriatric. In this class, it’s towards the bottom end for being fun to drive, outgunned by the Qashqai and Seat Ateca, as well as the class newcomer, the Skoda Karoq.

Hyundai says that it’s the first diesel-electric hybrid in the segment. This should do it some favours in the eyes of customers, but first in class this time doesn’t equate to best in class. Most mid-sized SUVs in this acutely competitive segment are at least 90% as capable and are available for less money.

Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi 48V Premium SE specification

Where Barcelona, Spain Price £34,945 On sale now Engine 4cyls, 1995cc, diesel, 48V hybrid Power 182bhp at 4000rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1750rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1643kg Top speed 125mph (limited) 0-62mph 9.5sec Fuel economy 49.6mpg CO2 151g/km Rivals Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca

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Comments
17

11 July 2018

That may be why buyers flock to it despite it's roly poly handling, which perhaps isn't cared much about by buyers - it appears however that car journalists evidently do. 

11 July 2018
Einarbb wrote:

That may be why buyers flock to it despite it's roly poly handling, which perhaps isn't cared much about by buyers - it appears however that car journalists evidently do. 

Totally agree, we are on the look out for a nearly new one at the moment to replace an IX35. Both Tucson and IX35 are better packaged than the Qashqai with more real life space and boot. When on a journey and the kids are on their gadgets in the back you don't need everyone being jolted on every bump. The Qashqai is not as comfortable as our press likes to make out.

This specific version is pretty niche, its the 'caravan club' special which won't be a big seller but will effortlessly pass long hours on the road with kids in the back and a van behind. Judging it on steering feel and cornering makes the review sound like the work of a 13 year old. Know the market!

11 July 2018

It just doesn't work out, a 7%  fuel saving which will probably turn out to 5% in the real world, will cost a whooping £3000 extra (ACCORDING to the arictle ).  Therefore a private buyer doing 15,000 mile pa will save around £100 a year on fuel costs meaning a payback time of 30 years.

For those 30 years you'll have a more expensive, complicated, heavier, mainteance needy car that has only a bit more torque when the battery is charged

Better hope the battery or motors don't need any work going to them after 15 years then!  

 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

11 July 2018
xxxx wrote:

It just doesn't work out, a 7%  fuel saving which will probably turn out to 5% in the real world, will cost a whooping £3000 extra (ACCORDING to the arictle ).  Therefore a private buyer doing 15,000 mile pa will save around £100 a year on fuel costs meaning a payback time of 30 years.

For those 30 years you'll have a more expensive, complicated, heavier, mainteance needy car that has only a bit more torque when the battery is charged

Better hope the battery or motors don't need any work going to them after 15 years then!  

 

There are some emission gains too which are always welcome, the current 182bhp auto Tucson has a CO2 of 170g/km. This one is 151g/km.

This will make little financial difference in the UK though, VED remains the same, and company car tax does too, topped out at 37%. Perhaps for a business user towing stuff around all day some fuel savings might add up. But not enough to cover the £1600 rise in price over the current 182bhp SE Premium Tucson.

FMS

9 August 2018
xxxx wrote:

It just doesn't work out, a 7%  fuel saving which will probably turn out to 5% in the real world, will cost a whooping £3000 extra (ACCORDING to the arictle ).  Therefore a private buyer doing 15,000 mile pa will save around £100 a year on fuel costs meaning a payback time of 30 years.

For those 30 years you'll have a more expensive, complicated, heavier, mainteance needy car that has only a bit more torque when the battery is charged

Better hope the battery or motors don't need any work going to them after 15 years then!  

 

 

Where are the relevant comments regarding the fleet market and the companies/self employed that lease/buy specific vehicles that match a job need/promote a particular company image/satisfy a niche demand within the organisation?.

 

Explain to the rest of us, who have a working grasp of the english language, exactly what "mainteance" is?. TWIT TWICE OVER.

 

What percentage of the population run a car that is around 15 years old, never mind 30?. TWIT

 

Get off your manky sofa, get a job, stop claiming benefits and stay away, until you can link your diminishing grey matter with your typing finger and post an article that contains at least one item that has some meaning and relevance. TWIT

11 July 2018

Maybe next time Hyundai will give Autocar the 400 horsepowere model with 20in wheels, then it can expect the full 5-star test treatment!

Of course the review should have concentrated on the merits or otherwise of the hybrid system, since this is the bit that's new. But what's the point comparison with the now deleted non hybrid diesel when buyers will be more interested in how it fares against rivals, and the smaller diesel?

Actually i think this may be the first time a manufacturer has offered a mild hybrid compression ignition engine - in fact so mild that it's 440 watt hr battery is smaller than that fitted to many electrically-assisted bicycles!  I can see the obvious attraction to a manufacturer: the single starter motor generator and small battery is cheap to make, yet powerful enougn to reap benefits in official test figures and padd out the torque curve at low revs when the engine is off boost.   Plus of course, it meaans that they can attach a "Hybrid" badge on the back...

11 July 2018
LP in Brighton wrote:

Actually i think this may be the first time a manufacturer has offered a mild hybrid compression ignition engine

No its not - PSA offered a diesel electric hybrid (electricity powered the rear axle) until a few years back.

The only sensible hybrids are diesel ones, but sadly not this one - they should have used the smaller, lighter 1.6, a more powerful electric motor and a bigger battery.

XXXX just went POP.

11 July 2018

Surely the point of hybrid's is to downsize the combustion engine and use the initial shove of the electric to maintain (or even improve) real world performance in most situations. Meanwhile the CE prevents range anxiety (unless you fit an absurdly small tank like BMW)

11 July 2018
reckless fox wrote:

Surely the point of hybrid's is to downsize the combustion engine and use the initial shove of the electric to maintain (or even improve) real world performance in most situations. Meanwhile the CE prevents range anxiety (unless you fit an absurdly small tank like BMW)

Exactly, that was the point I was making.

XXXX just went POP.

11 July 2018

The PSA one was a full hybrid, with large battery pack and powerful electric motor. But this arrangement, while promising a great deal, was very heavy and very expensive and ultimately has not been successful. The mild diesel hybrid produced by Hyundai uses a low power elecric motor and small battery to achieve much more modest performance / economy / emissions benefits, but crucially it is very light and cheap (even if this is not fully reflected in the car's list price!).  

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