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