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Driven: Hyundai Tucson 1.7 CRDi. Image by Hyundai.

Driven: Hyundai Tucson 1.7 CRDi
A mammoth week in Hyundaiís Tucson proves itís a class front-runner.


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Hyundai Tucson 1.7 CRDi

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: refinement, comfort, space, value for money, stylish looks, long warranty.

Not so good: interior quality good, but still not excellent, poor standard stereo.

Key Facts

Model tested: Hyundai Tucson SE Nav 1.7 CRDi
Price: from £18,995; 1.7 SE Nav £22,795; car as tested £23,380
Engine: 1.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door, five-seat crossover
CO2 emissions: 119g/km (Band C, £0 VED first 12 months, £30 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 61.7mpg
Top speed: 109mph
0-62mph: 13.7 seconds
Power: 116hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 280Nm at 1,250- to 2,500rpm

Our view:

It wasn't meant to be like this. Last-minute changes of circumstance meant that, instead of doing our usual road-test weekly distance of about 400 miles, we were going to be facing comfortably more than double that in the Hyundai Tucson. We were also originally slated to have the all-singing, all-dancing Premium SE with four-wheel drive, an automatic gearbox and the 184hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, which we were looking forward to. But, in reality, more buyers in the UK are going to opt for this 1.7-litre CRDi with a manual transmission and front-wheel drive. Lucky on two counts, really, that we selected the 116hp version then, because a) it's more relevant to the current crossover market and b) we had far more chance of doing 1,100 miles on two tanks of diesel.

That's right, 1,100 miles. Nearly 24 hours at the wheel... well, 23 actually, but who's counting? Anyway, moving swiftly on, the reason for this mega-mileage was a glut of work-related trips, necessitating a drive from the north of the East Midlands to Gatwick and back (via Heathrow), then a sally over the moors to Manchester, before a late-night marathon from there to Swansea, and finally back to the East Midlands.

So while a week at the wheel, no matter how arduous, can ever tell you what it's truly like to live with a car long-term, we certainly think we've got a pretty good handle on this Tucson. And the news is positive: while the preceding ix35 was a handsome and capable bit of kit that we liked, the Tucson feels like a marked step up in pretty much all departments. In fact, it feels every bit as good to be in as a Nissan Qashqai, the dominant force in this market sector.

We drove the Tucson along country lanes, into towns and cities at all hours of the day and night, along lightly-trafficked dual carriageways and up and down motorways that were both rush-hour congested and also riddled with ridiculous, late-night roadworks in which no Highways Agency bugger was doing even the slightest modicum of graft. Short of punting it into the scenery to go off-roading - for which the FWD 1.7 is not the ideal Tucson of choice - we're not sure what else we could have subjected the Hyundai to.

The dynamic headline is that the Tucson marries decent road-holding and driver enjoyment to a chassis that eases away long distances with a cosseting ride. In neither department is it flawless: Hyundai's variable steering still leaves us befuddled as there's an air of pointlessness about it due to the near-indiscernible differences from mode to mode, although we will concede that the basic set-up on the Tucson is one of the better racks to come from Korea; and there are a couple of odd occasions where the Hyundai's composure is disturbed by rougher road surfaces.

But in general, you'll find it corners flat and rides smoothly. And while its performance stats are almost laughably weak, we didn't find the 1.7-litre to be deeply frustrating. In fact, over the A628 Woodhead Pass it felt quite brisk, as long as you knew precisely when to stir the lovely, slick six-speed manual gearbox, while on the motorway it would burst free from yet another bloody 50mph SPECs zone without needing a downshift. The problem, as it is with all these small-capacity, low-output turbodiesels, is that it is just as quick on half-throttle openings as it is if you mash the accelerator to the bulkhead through first, second and third - high-revs fireworks are simply not in its remit.

While we critics can often overlook a car's aesthetics, deeming them 'less important' than the engineering of a vehicle, the reality is that the crossover market is largely dictated by showroom appeal. To that end, the Hyundai stands a very good chance of bagging plenty of sales. Where the ix35 was inoffensively smart, the Tucson is a chiselled, handsome beast of a thing. It looks quite big, so the styling team hasn't managed to visually shrink it, but it's not bloated and it wears its Santa Fe-esque creases well; better, even, than Hyundai's larger SUV. The Tucson can also get away with smaller, ride-cushioning 17-inch alloys and a relatively demure specification, like our SE Nav, so we're big fans of the looks.

Then we come to the cabin. It's huge inside, big enough for five adults, and it has a massive boot as well. Like any self-respecting Hyundai, while there are 'higher' trim levels, this SE Nav's equipment list is generous to say the least - touchscreen satnav (the clue is in the car's name...), cruise control, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, a reversing camera and a wealth of active and passive safety systems are chucked in, amongst much more. The design of the dash has also been improved compared to the ix35's, it's all intuitively laid out and the overall quality is higher than the older crossover's too... but it still feels strangely substandard compared to the Kia Sportage, and it's a long way off the best interiors in the class. Too many of the buttons and the expanses of plastic look built-to-a-price, which lets down what is otherwise a pleasant enough passenger compartment.

So, having strapped ourselves into the Tucson, the mileage marathon commenced. Burring its way up and down the M1 and M25, the Hyundai was in its element. Road noise was a little higher than we'd like unless the surfaces were smooth, but wind noise and the rumblings of the CRDi engine were kept stringently in check at all times. It'll happily hold a decent motorway cruising speed without labouring on hills and it proved to be decent on fuel, returning in excess of 50mpg.

The 1.7's lack of pace is more noticeable on local jaunts, where slowing down for and then accelerating away from junctions reveals the Tucson's lethargy, but again, once it's up to 50mph it's more than capable of holding its own in modern traffic flow. And, as we've already said, crossing the Pennines didn't prove to be a painful affair, although for A-road duties we were getting more like 35mpg. Overall, our 1,106 miles at 48mph gave back 44.4mpg - around 75 per cent of the quoted 61.7mpg combined number, but still respectable for a tall, 1,660kg crossover doing a wide variety of driving tasks.

In the end, maybe we softened to the Tucson because it eased us through a tough, rep-like week of churning along the UK's road network - but we think it's one of the strongest vehicles in its sector. Yes, the interior still lacks flair, and some of the switchgear and plastics are weirdly low-rent compared to those found in its 'in-house' Kia rival, the Mk4 Sportage; the 1.7-litre CRDi isn't exactly quick, although we never really found it wanting and there are always the 2.0 diesels if you're really annoyed by 116hp; and yes, by today's standards, the Tucson's basic six-speaker sound system is feeble. And when you're drifting past Ross-on-Wye at 1.15am and you really want some loud tunes to keep you going, that weedy stereo becomes a major bugbear.

But the Tucson is spacious, and it's comfy, and it's well-built, and it's warrantied up to the hilt, and it's quiet, and it looks fantastic from the kerb - truth be told, it ticks all of the same boxes that any of its rivals in this class do, and then offers better after-sales care than any of them (Kia excepted). In much the same vein as the latest generation Santa Fe in the segment above, Hyundai's update has seen the crossover's status go from the ix35's 'good value also-ran' to the Tucson's 'genuine contender' in its marketplace. And if you ever need to schlep 200 miles from Manchester to Swansea at half past sodding two in the morning, there really is no better vehicle in which to do such a journey. Trust us; we know whereof we speak.


Honda CR-V: gets frighteningly expensive ludicrously easily. Steer clear of top-spec models and bag the i-DTEC FWD manual to keep costs down. The Hyundai's the better crossover, though.

Renault Kadjar: a Nissan Qashqai in all but name, with an added dash of panache. Renault is one manufacturer that gets close to the Koreans' warranty domination, with a four-year/100,000-mile offering not to be sniffed at.

Peugeot 3008: not as likeable as its smaller 2008 sibling and showing its considerable age now, the Hyundai has this French car's measure.

Matt Robinson - 9 Feb 2016    - Hyundai road tests
- Hyundai news
- Tucson images

2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.

2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.2016 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Hyundai.


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