Driving the new Hyundai Tucsons up to Ipoh – turbocharging has made all the difference

Glancing through the exterior, not much seems to have changed save for the larger, more visually-appealing 19-inch wheels but the new 2.0-litre CRDi and the 1.6-litre T-GDi Hyundai Tuscon promises more than meets the eye.

The media drive today allowed us to sample two of the Tucson’s new offerings on a drive up to Ipoh; beginning with the 2.0-litre CRDi and later on, the 1.6-litre T-GDi for the drive back down to Kuala Lumpur.

Upon setting off from the Holiday Inn in Glenmarie, all 400 Nm of the 2.0 CRDi’s torque could instantly be felt, as if lurking from beneath the hood, even with the slightest tap of the throttle.

Torque is delivered from as low as 1,750 rpm before it fizzles out at 2,750 rpm. Not the biggest rev range to play with but seeing as the Tucson would be used mostly in urban areas it should offer plenty enough for a smooth drive.

The 2.0-litre CRDi utilises a 6-speed Automatic gearbox with a torque converter to contain its massive 400 Nm of torque and 178 hp. Despite not being a dual-clutch system, gear changes in automatic mode were rather seamless and even in manual, delays in the gear shifts were barely noticeable.

The 1.6-litre T-GDi, producing 177 hp with 265Nm of torque, also mated to a six-speed automatic, is carried over from the Elantra we tried recently and loved. Although, there have been minor tweaks in its engine mapping along with the use of a single scroll turbocharger instead of a twin scroll unit in the Elantra – a move that had drivability in mind.

With a 400cc deficit against the 2.0-litre variant, performance wasn’t profoundly different once things got going, but the 1.6-litre turbocharged motor did require a little push with peak torque at 4,500 rpm. This was offset by the seven-speed Dual Clutch transmission which was as responsive as dual clutch gearboxes can be, save for DSG’s, even in Manual mode. Its exhaust note at idle and the lower revs were really pleasing to the ears too!

Initial bite on the brakes, ventilated in the front and solid at the rear, weren’t great but as it latches on, it felt progressive without any visible fade in its stopping ability. What was most impressive was the Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels of both the 1.6 and 2.0-litre variants at cruising speeds.

At cruising speeds of 110 km/h at 1,800 rpm for the 2.0 CRDi and 110km/h at 2,000 rpm for the 1.6 T-GDi, cabin noise was close to negligible and along with the rather compliant ride, with the Tuscon’s multi-link rear suspension, made for a really pleasant ride, especially in the backseat.

Comfort in the backseat was also provided by generous amounts of rear leg and knee room. The rest of the interior seems to have been carried forward as seen with the seat design, door and other trims with addition of a powered tailgate which did come handy with the loading and unloading of camera equipment.

What really has to go, in our humble opinion, are those Puma-like embroidery on the door panels in red stitching which looked completely pointless and haphazardly-executed. Like the older Tucson, both the new variants come with a Safe Drive recorder as standard.

Drag coefficient of the Tucson has also been improved with significant areas of the undercarriage being covered to allow unhindered flow of air, along with the addition of a front lip. Also new to both the Tucson’s exterior is the Static Bending Lights which complement the LED headlamps; which swivels according to the direction input of the steering.

The rear view camera cleverly incorporated into the rear view mirror comes as standard for both variants with impressive clarity. Although the same can’t be said for the projection of the front view camera which clearly still needs improvement. Truth hurts but it’s hard to ignore the smudged symbol for the front camera view, as if it was stamped by a 2-year old, as it displayed a clear lack of quality control for a car at such a price.

Tough love, but it wouldn’t have been highlighted if there wasn’t any interest to see Hyundai do well.

That said, the display of Google Maps and Waze on the Android-based infotainment system were very clear; it was almost unnusual to have them displayed so clearly on the display in the centre console, in a good way.

All in all, with brief moments spent behind the wheel, this is all that can be said from a few hours with both the variants. One thing’s for sure, with the direction Hyundai has been going, with the impressive Elantra and now the improved Tucson, it’s hard to not see even more potential car owners picking up on the Korean brand if this consistency is upheld.


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