Hyundai's new crossover has great potential and a winning character that should have Nissan and Ford worried

What is it?

The first go in a diesel-powered version of the new Tucson, Hyundai’s impressive follow-up to the already popular ix35.

Alongside the 1.6-litre T-GDi we’ve already sampled, the higher-powered 2.0-litre CRDi is the only engine not carried over wholesale from its predecessor. Hyundai did in fact previously sell an earlier variant of the 182bhp four-cylinder unit,but ended up ditching it during the ix35’s life cycle.

Tweaked to comply with Euro 6 emissions obligations, the punchier motor now returns to fill out the top of the Tucson range.

Clearly it offers a bit more grunt, being about a second quicker to 62mph than its 134bhp sibling, although really this is as much about Hyundai’s ambitions for the Tucson as anything else: there’s no equivalent to the engine in the Nissan Qashqai, but there is one in the larger Ford Kuga, and the firm plainly sees this model’s customers as fodder for the Tucson, too.

No surprise, then, that just as the Kuga tops out at beyond £30k in 2.0-litre TDCi Titanium X Sport trim, so does the 182bhp, AWD version of the Tucson’s Premium SE spec - albeit by not quite so much at £30,845 with a six-speed manual gearbox.

For that you get plenty, including the premium niceties such as cooling-fan front seats, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, powered tailgate and the keyless start with which Hyundai likes to festoon its high-priced mainstream offerings.

What's it like?

Much like a Santa Fe, alhough slightly smaller and handily better.

Make room on your browser for Hyundai’s seven-seat SUV and the styling debt owed by the Tucson to its big brother is readily apparent and actually not undesirable - so long as you’ve already made your peace with the shiny mid-Atlantic bridgework going on at the front end.

Side by side, the difference in size is surprisingly modest and goes to show just how much real estate a 30mm addition in wheelbase length has bought the Tucson.

The all-new platform underneath donates some extra width, too, all of which translates inside to a prospect that feels, on first impressions at least, noticeably more spacious than a Qashqai. Bigger than a Kuga? Well, it’s certainly in the ballpark, and Hyundai claims a 107-litre advantage in boot capacity alone.

The new cabin is arguably a little more handsome than the Santa Fe's, too. A wider centre console, broader HVAC controls and the new generation 8.0in touchscreen all contribute to horizontal sense of space, and the ergonomics are only upset by the slightly rearward gear lever. It’s shift is positive enough though (and easily preferable to the lacklustre auto), and despite an occasionally overzealous brake servo, the control surfaces in the main follow suit.

Only the steering, mentioned previously, disappoints consistently, particularly when the Lane Keeping Assist System is on, as it will be by default, and aggressively attempts to adjust your course. Even when this is deactivated the wheel has an unpleasant doughiness to the straight ahead - a sure sign of autobahn-based fettling.

This minor demerit is insufficient though to take the gloss off what certainly feels like a very well-oiled exercise in Germanic development. The quality of the ride and handling already highlighted aboard the petrol model are, if anything, enhanced further here, the diesel version smoothing the T-GDi’s slight brittleness into a well-judged pliancy that makes the exceptional body control feel like an integral part of the experience.

Back to top

Predictably, this augurs well for the handling. The Tucson makes no particular claim of sportiness, but the platform’s 48% increase in torsional rigidity and a surprisingly neutral four-wheel drive system are noticeable advantages in a car rightly seeking to instill confidence at all times. The engine’s 295lb ft of torque means mid-range punchiness is decent, and it doesn’t protest when you want to make use of the extra power at 4000rpm. 

Should I buy one?

The idea that the Tucson name may have had some kudos with UK buyers (it's the line being trumpeted by Hyundai) is largely nonsense, but a first look at the new model suggests that’s about to change very quickly. This is precisely the kind of good-looking, well-mannered, quiet, comfortable and highly competent rival that Nissan and Ford will have feared.

However, as we noted with the T-GDi, while the higher-powered diesel might be new and fairly likable, it’s destined to be a fairly low-volume item, and the modest 20lb ft difference between it and the more economical 134bhp alternative suggests there’s no reason to argue for it unduly. (The 19g/km CO2 gap between it and the equivalent Kuga do it no favours either.) The best then, is yet to come. But the Tucson is a potential class leader in waiting, regardless. 

Hyundai Tucson 2.0 CRDi

Location Germany; On sale September; Price £30,845; Engine 4 cyls, 1995cc, turbodiesel; Power 182bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750-2750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1662kg; 0-62mph 9.9sec; Top speed 125mph; Economy 47.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 154g/km, 28%

Join the debate

Add a comment…
superstevie 1 July 2015

Like the car, looks good.

Like the car, looks good. Preferred the ix35 name over Tucson though.
The Apprentice 1 July 2015

Surprised no mention was made

Surprised no mention was made of the Honda CRV as a competitor, Honda spoiled the handling and never quite fixed the refinement on that. The Tucson appears to knock it for 6 on these factors but the elephant in the room is the CO2 which is still very disappointing. Honda finally faced up to this and the new, new, new CRV has decent power, 4wd and sub 130g/km.

When the Tucson comes up on company car lists that high tax liability on either the 134 or 182bhp models is going to get it overlooked. Hyundai will then be left having to do what they did with the IX35 to fleets, huge discounts. Car deserves better engine development. Shame as I think they could do if they wanted to.

xxxx 1 July 2015

Bad design, don't they test them

The climate control digits look to small and barely visible in photo, and as to the tiny low down buttons eek. I expect to be rear ended by one some time soon with the owner still looking down at those buttons