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2004 Hyundai Tucson CRTD review. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2004 Hyundai Tucson CRTD review
Quite a typical British car buyer has 15 - 20,000 to spend on the main household vehicle. It has to transport 2.2 kids, their stuff and sometimes maybe the dog. Ideally, low fuel consumption and high levels of safety would come as standard, to accompany the required space and of course the all-important image.

   



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Quite a typical British car buyer has 15 - 20,000 to spend on the main household vehicle. It has to transport 2.2 kids, their stuff and sometimes maybe the dog. Ideally, low fuel consumption and high levels of safety would come as standard, to accompany the required space and of course the all-important image.

There is a plethora of good family saloons and even estates on the market in this wide price bracket. It seems that nobody wants a humdrum saloon these days, and estates and MPVs are perceived as being a bit 'fuddy duddy' by the aspirational crowd. The SUV though has a youthful, outdoorsy image and there appears to be no let up in the market demand. Unsurprisingly, the manufacturers have jumped on the four-wheel drive bandwagon in a big way. Hyundai sells a modest range in the UK, from the hefty Terracan down to the car under test here, the Tucson.

Hyundai launched the Tucson (pronounced "Too-son" by the way) late in the summer of 2004 and it should thrive in Britain, fitting in nicely with the needs of the school run brigade. The Tucson is actually quite attractive, with curved haunches and wheelarch extensions hinting at its supposed all-terrain ability. Dual exhausts, even on the diesel version pictured here, lend the Tucson an added sporty touch increasing its appeal to the young and youthful.

We spent a week with the 2.0 CRTD CDX, which is the most highly specified trim level. CRTD stands for Common Rail Turbo Diesel, likely to be the choice of the majority of Tucson buyers, though there are also 2.0-litre and 2.7-litre V6 petrol options. Even without such niceties as heated leather seats, climate control and the combined electric chromatic rear view mirror/compass, the interior of the Tucson is pretty good. An elevated driving position obviously gives the driver a good view, and sitting upright creates more legroom, of which there is plenty in the front or rear. The materials used (mostly plastics) are quite acceptable, though we are not fans of the machined metal appearance of the plastic on the centre console.

If you have spent any time in the latest Hyundais, or indeed Kias, you will spot the component sharing of much of the switchgear and functionality. The Tucson will not win any prizes for tactility, and we are surprised that Hyundai still sells cars with the indicator and wiper stalks on the opposite side to most other new cars, but the overall impression is of a well put together and spacious cabin. A significant gripe we had was with the climate control, allegedly automatic; it never seemed to manage to get the required temperature right, as if its temperature measurement were in the engine bay, or in a factory back in Korea, but certainly not in the cabin. However, the system is notably quiet.

Hyundai should also be congratulated for the containment of the noise from the diesel engine under the bonnet. Despite employing common rail, high fuel pressure technology, this unit is not particularly refined or quiet, yet it doesn't really intrude on the driving experience and there are few vibrations through the controls to betray the high cylinder pressures. If you generally have the radio on in your car, you would not really notice any engine noise.

We were not at all impressed by the performance of this engine as a whole. It never really seems to get going, and then you hit the rev limiter. There is no turbo lag, but to be honest there is little sensation of boost either, Hyundai instead opting for a wide and flat torque curve. Though perfectly capable of elevated motorway speeds, you have to pencil in your overtaking manoeuvres on your year planner to execute them safely. Before the latest generation of super diesels appeared on the scene it was generally accepted that there was a trade-off between performance and economy. Therefore we were astonished to find that not only is the 2.0 CRTD quite slow, it also proved to be thirstier than a small Irish village on St. Patrick's Day; we struggled to average 22mpg in the week, which did actually include some motorway cruising (admittedly at sustained high speed).

It must be assumed that the tall styling hurts the aerodynamics, as do the large tyres, which also cause a lot more friction on the road than the average car's. I must admit that I also believed that the four-wheel drive gubbins were another major source of power (or fuel) loss, but it turns out that the Tucson actually uses a 'torque-on-demand' system, which basically means it acts just like a front-wheel drive car until the front wheels begin to lose grip and then torque is sent to the rear as well. For low speed manoeuvring on particularly slippery surfaces the driver can choose to engage permanent four-wheel drive.

On the road, the Tucson is a pleasant enough device, with weighty steering and firm suspension adding to its sporty image (the chassis is loosely based on the capable Hyundai Coupe's). It manages to be quite comfortable as well, and copes better with high frequency motorway ridges better than such cars as the BMW X3 2.0d. Ultimately it has more grip than grunt, even in damp conditions, rendering the traction control a complete waste of time. The petrol V6 version has the grunt, but is sadly allied to a four-speed automatic, which we've tried and don't rate very highly. This year, Hyundai launched a two-wheel drive version of the Tucson, but it is only available with the 2.0-litre petrol engine, which is surely a missed opportunity when few buyers really need the four-wheel drive system.

Needless to say that we didn't bother experimenting with the Tucson's off-road ability; it may be useful for towing a jet ski up a sandy beach, but it has not been designed for serious mud plugging. Despite Hyundai's insistence that the Tucson's rivals are the Toyota RAV-4, Honda CRV, Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander and Kia Sportage, we believe that this Hyundai was designed to give the average buyer an alternative to saloons, estates and MPVs. It fulfils its brief.

Shane O' Donoghue - 14 Apr 2005



  www.hyundai.co.uk    - Hyundai road tests
- Hyundai news
- Tucson images

2004 Hyundai Tucson specifications: (2.0 CRTD CDX manual)
Price: 17,195 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 10.5 seconds
Top speed: 104mph
Combined economy: 39.8mpg
Emissions: 187g/km
Kerb weight: 1693kg

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.



2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2004 Hyundai Tucson. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 






 

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