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First drive: Hyundai Tucson. Image by Stuart Price.

First drive: Hyundai Tucson
Say hello to the ix35's replacement, the new Hyundai Santa Fe-aping Tucson SUV.


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Hyundai Tucson

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Hyundai has big plans for its SUV replacement for the ix35, which is why it has revived the Tucson name. Apparently that's to align it more with the full-size Santa Fe than the 'volume i models'. And our first drive in the top-spec variants indicates that it'll be a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps hold off on that Nissan Qashqai order until you've taken a test drive for yourself.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Hyundai Tucson Premium SE 2.0 CRDi 185 4WD manual
Pricing: 30,845 as tested; starts at 18,695
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 154g/km (Band G, 180 per year)
Combined fuel economy: 47.9mpg
Top speed: 125mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Power: 185hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750- to 2,750rpm
Boot space: 513- 1,503 litres

What's this?

Hyundai's all-new compact SUV, set to do battle with the Nissan Qashqai and myriad other crossovers. The Tucson replaces the Hyundai ix35 and as you can see from the images it's a far more stylish proposition. The pictures also reveal a dimensional increase in most directions, so the new car is wider and longer with 30mm extra in the wheelbase. The overall height is lower though, aiding its chunky four-square stance. Inside, there's loads of space, noticeably in the rear, while the boot has been enlarged further and features a split level, while the wide tailgate is powered on the top model tested here.

The rest of the cabin is restrained but modern in appearance and it feels a cut above most mass-market cars in this segment - and that includes the top-selling Qashqai. In fairness we only got to experience the high-spec Premium SE model with its leather upholstery - it even has heated rear seats and ventilation for the front pair. However, the dashboard and switchgear are the highest quality feeling from Hyundai yet, which bodes well for the entry-level Tucsons.

Pricing starts at 18,695 for the S model powered by a 1.6-litre GDi petrol engine with 132hp, and though the base specification is generous (including auto headlights, air conditioning, 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth and DAB digital radio) Hyundai UK expects most buyers to opt for the SE Nav car, which starts at 21,295 and features all the SE bits and bobs (17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, projection headlights and Lane Keep Assist) plus, as the name indicates, satnav. It's a new TomTom system utilising an attractive eight-inch touchscreen that incorporates a reversing camera. Above that are Premium and Premium SE models.

The best-selling engine is likely to be the 1.7-litre CRDi diesel with 116hp, carried over from the ix35 with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox only. Above that there are 136- and 185hp variants of a 2.0-litre CRDi diesel, available with manual or automatic transmissions (both six-speed units) and front- or four-wheel drive. A new turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine will also be offered only with four-wheel drive, producing 177hp. It's the first Hyundai SUV to be made available with the Korean company's new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic - alongside the standard manual gearbox.

How does it drive?

Incredibly well, put simply. Developed on an all-new platform, the Tucson is a league above the ix35 in terms of refinement and noise suppression. The suspension itself seems well-polished too, serving up good comfort and absorption of poor road surfaces in conjunction with decent body control and stability in the corners. It's not a car you'd drive for the sake of driving, but roll is well contained, grip levels are high and it can cover ground at a fair lick.

It's a shame that the electric power steering system hasn't a little more consistency and feedback to it though. Drivers can alter the assistance between Normal and Sport levels, but in the latter mode it just feels oddly weighted. Along with that, the Lane Keep Assist System is too obvious in its operation on anything other than the motorway, so we switched it off most of the time.

The 185hp diesel engine is quiet, though punchy when you ask a little more of it (response can be slovenly when it's paired with the automatic gearbox), but its output never troubles the four-wheel drive system's handle on things. In normal circumstances all power is sent to the front wheels and the system can send up to 50 per cent to the rear axle if slip at the front is detected. Additionally, at speeds of up to 25mph, the driver can manually lock the split at 50/50 if needs be. On dry roads it was all but impossible to discern the system in operation, though no doubt it helped with the Tucson's traction and mid-corner stability when we were pushing on.


We'll reserve final judgement on the new Hyundai Tucson for when we test the volume-selling 1.7-litre version with front-wheel drive on British tarmac, but first impressions suggest that it has raised the bar for the crossover/SUV type thingys that motorists are buying by the thousand. It's stylish, well-equipped, spacious and commendably competent on the road. Still want that Nissan Qashqai?

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain

Shane O' Donoghue - 2 Jul 2015    - Hyundai road tests
- Hyundai news
- Tucson images

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Mazda.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Mazda.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Mazda.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Mazda.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Mazda.

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Mazda.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Stuart Price.

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Stuart Price.

2015 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Stuart Price.


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