From £23,1758
Hyundai's UK best-seller gains a refined plug-in hybrid range-topper

What is it?

The Tucson has been a mainstay of the Hyundai line-up since 2004, steadily growing in popularity to become the marque’s best-selling model in the UK. It’s therefore not hard to see why, despite the emergence of the new all-electric Ioniq sub-brand, Hyundai still has big plans for its traditional family hauler, particularly for fleet drivers with an eye on BIK rates.   

That’s where this new plug-in hybrid variant comes in, because a radical design overhaul – including the unmissable grille, with its integrated LED lighting – is not the only big development for the fourth-generation Tucson. The PHEV technology means this crossover now offers the broadest array of powertrains anywhere in the Korean giant's line-up, and pairs Hyundai’s 1.6-litre GDi four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with a 90bhp electric motor annexed to the car’s six-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is also standard, and in total the range-topping Tucson produces a gutsy 261bhp and 258 lb ft. 

Naturally, it's also a heavy beast, the lithium-ion drive battery that resides beneath the rear seats helping bring kerb weight to 1924kg, making the car around half-a-tonne heavier than the standard petrol model. In terms of straight-line performance, the Tucson PHEV pays the price for this, with a 0-62mph time of 8.6sec compared to the 7.7sec of its 227bhp full-hybrid sibling. It’s also beaten by the 241bhp Tiguan eHybrid, which manages a claimed 7.5sec. The Tucson’s electric driving range of 31 miles is also only modest, matching the Tiguan to the mile, but easily surpassed by the Toyota RAV4 PHEV’s class-leading 46 miles. 

Our test model is in top-rung Ultimate specification, which is equipped with 19in alloy wheels, an impressive haul of safety assist systems, a panoramic sunroof and electric seats. It also benefited from the optional Tech Pack, which adds multi-mode dampers, park assist, blind spot camera and collision assist, as well as an electric tailgate which gives way to a practical 558-litre boot, ahead of the Tiguan eHybrid, which makes do with a smaller 476-litre space thanks to the relocation of its fuel tank. 

What's it like?

Inside, the Tucson begins to flex its muscles. It’s a prime example of how new-era Hyundai models now give drivers a premium experience. Soft plastics and fabrics adorn the dashboard and doors, mixed with metal trim surrounding the air conditioning vents. The model features a 10.25in touchscreen unit with sat nav, which is simple to use with good screen resolution at a reachable angle for the driver and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included. The driver’s display is also digital, matching the central screen’s 10.25in size, and in the PHEV can be used to display a useful energy-flow graphic, showing when the petrol unit, EV motor and brake regeneration function are being called upon. This display also highlights the car’s coasting feature, which prompts you to take your foot off the accelerator and allow the engine to shut off when approaching junctions, or upcoming traffic. Interior buttons are also well positioned, though many of the traditional switches and controls have been replaced with touch-sensitive controls, which can be fiddly to use on the move.

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Out on the road, you’ll notice the PHEV’s strong, electric motor-enabled throttle response, which is palpable despite the car's increase in weight. All-out power is also more than sufficient for overtaking, and equally, the 31-mile electric range should be sufficient for most short journeys, though of course, how much you benefit from the PHEV functionality will depend on how much you can charge up. The Tucson then handles everyday driving with relative ease, even on twisting B-roads, and motorway ride-quality is in general smooth and composed, with low levels wind and tyre noise bolstering the Tucson’s refinement over long distances. The gearbox is a little slow to react, but elsewhere this powertrain works well. 

As for handling, don’t expect N-car dynamics, although the Tucson PHEV moves tidily enough, with good security underwheel. You’ll feel its weight and height in some corners, but a decent balance has been struck between control and absorption for the suspension. The car also pulls nicely, though if you’re looking for stronger performance and an altogether more satisfying dynamic package, look first to options like the Jaguar E-Pace P300e. 

Should I buy one?

Overall, the Tucson is a refined contender in a segment now swarming with PHEV options. Its spacious interior stands out for its perceived quality just as much as the exterior catches the eye. On the move it’s more dependable than exciting, but in truth, that’s what Hyundai has rightly aimed for. Those tempting tax rates and the firm’s five-year, unlimited mileage warranty will likely see this become a highly popular variant of what is already a highly popular car.

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gavsmit 22 July 2021

No qualities this car has make it worth over £42,000.

Those finance packages have a lot to answer for. I'll never buy a new car again - not because I can't afford to, but because I resent being taken for a fool and wasting so much money on something clearly not worth it.

If you don't agree then buy one and stomach the huge depreciation, or pay monthly payments and never actually own it despite a similar amount of money being able to buy a similar car outright not that long ago.

567 22 July 2021

I don't like the look of this car.

nimmler 22 July 2021

Looks like the daily 2+ korean car spam articles has arrived. s.koreans are smart, make tiny trivial changes to the car and call it “new update”-bribe press in form of spending on big ad campaigns-gets another round of articles the auto press..even pistionheads has taken the bait.. Notice there is never a million Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Mazda articles here, probably because they’re respectful companies that do not need to do sneaky tricks like hyundai/kia Also stop misleading readers autocar with clickbait “From £23k” list price when the real price is £43k plus luxury car tax for this overpriced turd from skorea.