Hyundai Tucson AT Review: New 8-speed automatic transmission tested
The Hyundai Tucson gets upgraded to BS6 with a new transmission, along with some cosmetic tweaks and feature upgrades
Hyundai launched the facelifted Tucson in India, but we were told about it way back in February at Auto Expo. We knew the Tucson would have updated styling, fresh interiors and the biggest change was to the drivetrain — the Tucson swapped out its 6-speed automatic for an 8-speed transmission. Did this have something to do with the change over to BS6? Likely, and we got behind the wheel to find out.
The facelifted Tucson’s exteriors aren’t a radical change from before. Up front you get new headlamps on this GLS spec car — ‘penta-projector LEDs’ in Hyundaispeak, but essentially LEDs with five small projector elements. There’s a new DRL signature and the grille is new. It’s shinier, and is larger as well — the outline is sharper and overall the face is more menacing. The fog lamps are new and the bumper around them has been reprofiled. The older Tucson looked slightly friendly, but not any more. On the sides, not much has changed but at the rear, as with all facelifts, there is a new taillamp cluster.
The dashboard immediately grabs my attention — there’s a new 8-inch screen. But Hyundai hasn’t just pulled out the old one and stuck in a new one… because they couldn’t. The old screen was flanked by AC vents, so the whole top half of the dash has been redesigned. It’s now a floating screen, much like in the Kona Electric, and the central AC vents sit below it. There are a few other tweaks to the cabin — a wireless phone charger, a larger storage space in the centre armrest, different buttons for the drive modes and hill descent control. The other big change that you wouldn’t notice up front is the addition of Blue Link. Ever since the Venue got it, every new Hyundai launched in India has gotten it and that single addition gives the Tucson feature’s list a massive bolstering. Not that the Tucson needed it — it gets electrically adjustable seats for both driver and passenger, an Infinity sound system and a panoramic sunroof. Hyundai haven’t messed around with the instrument cluster and you still get the big, legible analogue dials with a small digital MID. If there’s anything I missed from the Tucson’s cabin, it is ventilated seats. Hyundai should really have figured out a way to include that in here.
On the go
The engine is the same, a 2-litre turbo-diesel with a meaty mid-range. It makes 182bhp and 400Nm which is identical to the pre-BS6 Tucson. There’s now a diesel particulate filter, a lean NOx trap and a SCR system with a urea tank to ensure it meets BS6 capabilities. There’s also an eVGT that replaces the regular VGT, giving the systems better control of how the turbo spools up. From behind the wheel, it doesn’t feel like too much has changed though — there’s a slight amount of lag followed by a strong shove once the turbo spools up. It doesn’t rev too high with the redline at 4500rpm, but you don’t need it to rev high either. It makes peak torque right from 1750rpm to 2750rpm — sounds narrow, but that’s plenty to hustle you along. I think the responses from the throttle are a bit too dull in Comfort and Eco drive modes and preferred putting it in to Sport mode everywhere except in the city. The Hyundai diesel was always very refined with minimal vibes and noise entering the cabin, and that remains so.
Now coming to the transmission. First gear is now shorter, and the gears are now more closely spaced while the final drive is taller. Which means it accelerates a marginally quicker off the line, while on the highway it can sit in top gear with less strain on the engine. Fuel efficiency would have taken a hit due to the BS6 upgrades and this transmission is marginally more efficient, allowing for better efficiency. The changed gearing also means you will save fuel while getting up to speed in lower gears, or while cruising in top gear.
That aside, ride and handling remains unchanged. The Tucson really rides well over bad roads, absorbing broken patches well and staying planted and confident on the highway. Cornering ability isn’t too shabby either, particularly on this AWD variant. You can ease the throttle on earlier in the car without overwhelming the front tyres as up to 50 per cent of torque can be sent to the rear. Roll is controlled, though I do with the steering had more feel and directness to it.
Now the price. This AWD variant costs Rs 27.03 lakh and that’s a fair amount of money. But the AWD variant is only available on the top spec GLSc variant. Prices for the Tucson start at Rs 24.3 lakh for the front-wheel-drive GL(O) and you don’t miss out on too much kit compared to the GLS. You don’t get the new LED headlamps, the automatic tailgate and the front parking sensors. I’d be willing to live without all of that and save close to Rs 3 lakh. Other options in this price bracket include the Skoda Karoq and the Jeep Compass. The Karoq may offer a more premium experience but lacks the space, while the Compass is certainly more capable off-road. But the Tucson, despite its age, can hold its own if you’re looking for an SUV that is capable of long distances, while being convenient in the city and uncompromising with comfort.
Photos: Abhishek Benny