When Peter Schreyer joined Hyundai-Kia Motors back in 2006 as the Chief Design Officer, he revolutionised Kia’s design language with the signature Tiger Nose grille. The Tiger Nose propelled the Korean carmaker to unprecedented heights in terms of design, and the trend continues to this day.
The third-generation Hyundai Tucson is the first Hyundai car that Schreyer worked his magic on. It certainly shows because the Tucson proceeded to win several prestigious awards such as the iF Product Design Award and Good Design Award.
The new Tucson is a vast improvement over the previous generation in terms of refinement and features, allowing it to hold its ground well in the C-segment SUV class. Its title of fastest selling Hyundai model in Europe speaks volume of its competitiveness.
However, the biggest gripe we have is that Hyundai Sime Darby (HSD) decided to carry over the second-generation’s powertrain. With the keys to the fully decked out Hyundai Tucson Nu 2.0L Executive in hand, it’s time to find out whether the all-new Tucson is able to hold its ground in the ever-demanding Malaysian market.
|Name||Hyundai Tucson Nu 2.0L Elegance||Hyundai Tucson Nu 2.0L Executive|
|Engine||1,999cc; 4-cylinder Multi Point Injection|
|Max Power||153 hp @ 6,200 rpm|
|Max Torque||192 Nm @ 4,000 rpm|
|Price (OTR without insurance)||RM129,990.87||RM142,632.60|
Central to the design language of the Tucson is the Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 also found in the Veloster Turbo and the seventh-generation Sonata. The prominent lines across the body panels gives the Tucson a modern and sophisticated appearance. At the front, Hyundai’s hexagon chrome grille, tiger eyes projector headlamps, fog lamps and day time running lights gives the Tucson a bold and rugged look.
At the side, the Tucson gets power folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps; a feature normally found in premium brands. Although the design is somewhat tame and docile, it does not compromise the car’s overall athletic character. In short, the new Tucson is very much a smaller-sized Santa Fe and is indeed quite a looker.
Hop inside, the well laid out cabin is draped in high quality materials. If it wasn’t for the Hyundai badge on the steering wheel, I definitely would’ve mistaken it for a premium European make. The instrument cluster is straightforward and information are clearly laid out on the coloured 4.2-inch TFT LCD display that can be operated via the multifunctional steering wheel. Drivers will also appreciate how convenient the cruise control, infotainment system and Bluetooth controls are placed on the steering wheel.
At the centre of the dashboard sits an 8-inch Android based touchscreen infotainment system. For experienced Android phone or tablet users will get used to the system in no time. The infotainment system can also be connected to a mobile hotspot for internet connectivity to fully utilise its capabilities such as live-traffic. Parking is made easy in the Tucson with front and rear parking sensors as well as a reversing camera with guide lines.
I must say, the eight-way powered leather seats with lumbar support offers plenty of support and comfort, making long distance drives less of a chore. Rear passengers are also in for a treat as the rear bench are reclined slightly and are exceptionally comfortable. Furthermore, the interior can be had in either red, black or stunning white Nappa leather. The 488-litres boot space on the Tucson is nowhere near class-leading but it’s more than enough to handle balik kampung trips.
Motivating the Tucson is the same 2.0-litre naturally aspirated MPI four-cylinder engine producing 153 hp and 192 Nm. It’s the same engine found in the previous generation Tucson. Drive is sent to the front-wheels via a conventional six-speed automatic. Unfortunately, the 1.6-litre turbocharged and seven-speed dual clutch transmission combo available in other markets did not make its way to our shores.
As far as safety goes, the Tucson is on par with cars in its segment. As standard, this top spec model comes with six airbags, ABS with BA, ESC, VSM, Hill Assist Control, Downhill Brake Control and Safe Drive Recorder. The entry-level variant drops the airbag count to two and omits the Safe Drive Recorder.
On the move, it is clear that the Tucson is a thoroughly comfort-oriented mid-size SUV. From the suspension setup to the powertrain mapping, it gels extremely well to provide a smooth and plush commuting experience in town and on the highway. However, take things up a notch and immediately the Tucson’s flaws become apparent.
Accelerating out from a corner or even overtaking at an incline demands more than what the four banger could provide, so more power is definitely needed for such manoeuvres. This may very well be a deal breaker for many driving enthusiasts.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
If comfort is your utmost priority, the Hyundai Tucson should definitely be in your radar. However, if you’re not ready to throw away the little boy racer in you, the Tucson’s dynamics will surely disappoint.
WILL I BUY IT?
The Tucson appeals to me very much inside and out. Even more so with the exceptional comfort levels. But, the less than ideal driving engagement and inadequate grunt are the deal breakers for me. If only it came with a turbocharged petrol or turbodiesel engine with all-wheel drive…
Adrian’s take: Previously, my favourite SUV was the CX-5 simply because of its superb driving dynamics. I mean, finally we have an SUV that handles well! However, after spending some long distance drives in the Tucson, it made me re-evaluate how I view SUVs. The whole purpose of a family SUV is to comfortably and happily ferry passengers around, and not necessarily to put a huge smile on the driver’s face around twisty roads. Because trust me, you’ll be the only one smiling. This makes the Tucson’s plush ride, refined cabin and impossibly low NVH levels the most sensible SUV at this price point. Well, maybe the gorgeous white Nappa leather is the only thing that makes no sense on the car, but to each their own.
Words by: Andrew Choo