From £23,1758
Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

The front-driven Tucson shines something of a light on the typically inverse relationship between weight and efficient, effortless drivability. It effectively shares its 1.6-litre 227bhp hybrid powertrain with the four- wheel-drive Kia Sorento we road tested in January, but with 400kg less mass to lug around, the Hyundai makes a much more persuasive go of being a family SUV with heightened green credentials.

Whereas the seven-seat Sorento never really felt like more than a jumped-up mild hybrid – and struggled to put serious daylight between itself and conventionally powered rivals in terms of fuel consumption – the lighter Tucson fares considerably better. This is primarily down to the supplementary electric motor having greater scope to take over proceedings, and being better able to run for longer periods without being interrupted by the petrol engine.

I found I ended up leaving the paddle shifters alone during quicker driving. They’re just a bit too slow. It seems this is a feature aimed more at those with things to tow, which is fine.

That said, there is still a need to make a conscious effort to drive in a manner that doesn’t overwhelm the smaller motor. With sufficient charge in the drive battery, it’s possible to move away from a standstill on electric power alone – provided you’re gentle with your throttle inputs. Similarly, you will often need to lift off the throttle entirely to access EV mode when up and running, and again adopt a lighter touch in order to continue running as such.

Employ this more mindful approach, however, and it’s possible to see the sorts of fuel consumption figures you’d typically expect from a hybrid – particularly in stop/start urban environments. On shorter trips around town, our testers were able to get close to 50mpg from the Tucson.

Back to top

Performance is punchy without being exciting. The six-speed automatic ’box can be a bit slow on the uptake but the electric motor’s instantly available torque nonetheless makes for fairly effortless roll-on acceleration. The Tucson is reasonably swift off the line, too, but can succumb to fairly violent axle tramp on greasy surfaces if you’re apish with your inputs. Exercise a bit of restraint, though, and it’s possible to extract a more than respectable 0-60mph time: we recorded 7.6sec on Millbrook’s damp mile straight.

The brakes provide decent stopping power and pedal feel, with the Tucson needing 54.1m to come to a standstill from 70mph. A Volkswagen Tiguan TDI, meanwhile, required 55m, also in the damp.