Launch Drive: Hyundai Tucson resumes from ix35
The Hyundai Tucson name is not unfamiliar to South Africans and was previously given to one of Hyundai’s more successful models to date. Back in 2010 the Tucson was replaced by the conventionally named Hyundai ix35 and though the latter was subsequently a new generation of the Tucson, the often mispronounced name has been absent from Hyundai’s model line-up… until now.
What we have here is the all-new 2016 Hyundai Tucson. In a global decision, the Tucson nameplate replaces the ix35 nomenclature. The third-generation Tucson is new from the ground up, with every part of it developed to make the vehicle look and drive in a superior way. The Tucson is Hyundai’s contender in a very tightly contested market segment, competing against the likes of Ford’s Kuga and the Kia Sportage. To catch buyers’ attention the Tucson needed to deviate from its exiting path.
And to do just that the vehicle boasts a bold and unique look conceived by Peter Schreyer… yes the same man who responsible for many of KIA’s latest products. Headlight clusters give the Tucson a menacing, yet indulging look and these clusters house daytime-running LED lights and auto on/off headlamps. The grille uses Hyundai’s familiar design and diagonal chrome bars add a sporty touch. The front bumper features integrated fog lights and a small front splitter.
From almost all angles the Hyundai Tucson looks compact and athletic with strong concept features carried through into production. Afrikaans has the perfect word to describe it: “knus”, which translates to cozy, and the choice between 17-, 18-, and 19-inch alloy wheels round the package off with a splash of style.
Though market trends suggest that buyers are opting for smaller vehicles, the Hyundai Tucson creates the illusion of being small, but surprises with useful space. At 4 475mm the Hyundai Tucson is slightly shorter than the Kuga, but offers better width at 1 850mm. The SUV’s height is rated at 1 655mm and ground clearance at 182mm. Boot space is a huge 513 and, with the rear seats folded down, it increases to a whopping 1 503L.
Inside the Hyundai Tucson feels like a definite upgrade over the ix35. It does, however, not use the same quality materials all over. Hard plastics like the window switches and door handles are blended with soft-touch materials, which is a shame on an otherwise well laid-out and lavishly equipped interior. Electronic adjustment for the driver’s seat and on certain models Blind Spot Detection, Cross Traffic Detection and panoramic sunroof are offered while the only item absent from the list is an electronic tailgate.
The interior’s ambience is greatly dependent on which screen has been installed and Hyundai will need to ensure that its dealers create the best first impression. Standard is a basic but functional 3.8-inch screen but for a well spent R15 000 Hyundai will re-tool the dashboard and slot in their 8-inch screen which brings glowing new features such as navigation and MirrorLink to an already comprehensive list.
Available from launch are two engine choices coupled to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. The first engine is the naturally aspirated 2-litre unit (115kW/196Nm) that has been carried over from the outgoing ix35. The other engine is a detuned version of Hyundai’s 1,6-litre turbo mill that is also found in the Veloster. It produces 130kW/265Nm and is available in FWD and AWD guises. A Euro VI 1.7-litre diesel engine will be undergoing routine tests for South Africa’s 50ppm-or-better diesel and is expected to join the line-up around July of this year, hopefully with a DCT gearbox.
On the drive it was unfortunate that we could only sample the 1.6 turbo engine. First was the automatic gearbox in AWD, but driving conditions never required the need for the AWD system.
In the AWD model power is sent to the front wheels but when needed, up to 50% of the power is transferred to the rear. The new dual clutch auto ‘box does well to select the right gear at any given time and point within a creamy torque curve and shows a marked improvement from the unit fitted to the now discontinued Veloster. For the first time in Hyundai’s history the drivetrain is not a conservative step behind and now able to match the Germans for efficiency and smoothness.
The 1,6-litre turbo does well to propel the 1,6 ton Tucson forward and the electric steering feels precise and confident. Toggling between the two driving modes – Normal and Eco – will bring the vehicle’s character traits to the fore and each mode has an effect on performance and fuel economy.
To make trips as comfortable as possible, the chassis of the Tucson has been designed with comfort as one of the main focal points. The front springs have softer rebounds and the rear suspension has been refined to make the vehicle as supple on the roads as possible. These changes definitely have an influence and ride quality – particularly on gravel – soaks up every bump but the noise of the tyres on uneven surfaces, especially at speed, intrudes the cabin.
Hyundai was the first brand to introduce a 150 000km warranty those many years ago and in a show of confidence in their products Hyundai’s entire model range, including the Tucson, comes with an industry-leading seven-year/200 000 km warranty, with service intervals every 15 000 km. This will promote strong resale value and for many buyers could be a deciding factor when choosing between brands.
Hyundai Tucson is a resolved premium all-rounder that does almost everything that a more expensive Santa Fe promises while injecting the brand with the technology and youthful styling that has not always been evident in other models.
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Premium (manual) R359 900
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Premium (automatic) R379 900
Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Elite (automatic) R439 900
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Executive (manual) R419 900
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Elite DCT AWD R499 900