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.
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.