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Excellent, in fact. You’ve seen pictures of the Tucson and it looks as good in the metal, particularly from the front where Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic 2.0’ design language is at its most aggressive. The hexagonal grille that has been enthusiastically appropriated by Hyundai is now a signature that runs across the range and it’s heavily chrome laden in the Tucson with three prominent horizontal strakes. The headlamps are aggressively stretched back and have a distinctive statement – the twin-barrel LED headlamps. Both these LEDs are the low beam while the main beam that is positioned closer to the grille is a halogen element, and in between the two are the static cornering lamps that light up the blind spot when the steering wheel is turned. The eyebrows at the top of the headlamp unit are a styling element that is also seen on the Elite i20 but these aren’t the DRLs, the LED day time running lamps are on the bottom of the bumper, below the fog lamps. That’s a lot of lighting elements on the Tucson!
The sides have the typically-SUV pumped up wheelarches with the rear ones sporting a square profile. The tyres are 18-inchers, shod with Nexen rubber, the first time we are experiencing those tyres. The rear, meanwhile, is the least inspiring angle of the Tucson and the taillamps look heavily inspired by the Elite i20’s.
There’s a lot of space, a perfect half-way house between the Creta at one end and the Santa Fe at the other. With the black and beige colour scheme the cabin feels light and airy and there’s plenty of space to move around in. Rear seat passengers have plenty of knee and headroom, nearly as much as a Santa Fe, though the latter is appreciably wider.
Quality is also good with the top of the dash sporting soft touch plastics though the rest of the plastics are hard to touch. The 8-inch infotainment screen is familiar from the Elantra and has easy to navigate menus while also being more responsive thanks to capacitive touch. The stereo also sounds much nicer than the Elantra’s thanks to sound engineering by Arkamys.
It’s got puddle lamps and keyless entry but the neatest feature is the electric opening tail gate that detects the key in your pocket and opens the boot for you so you don’t have to struggle with bags and whatever is filling your hands. Neat.
All variants of the Tucson get six airbags while the top-end variants get ESP and VSC (vehicle stability control). This is a global model, sold in 160 countries and safety has been accorded the highest priority with it scoring a full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, as well as scoring the highest ratings in crash tests in the US.
Yes, and it is not a carry-over unit from the Elantra but a new 2-litre petrol making 152.8bhp and 192Nm of torque. There are no claimed figures but it feels like the 100kmph sprint will take around 11 seconds. Claimed fuel efficiency is 13.03kmpl for the manual and 12.95kmpl for the automatic.
On the road it is a relaxed and very silent motor that has good drivability and an easy turn of pace. In fact NVH suppression is one of the unexpected highlights of the Tucson with barely any noise or vibrations filtering into the cabin. But, like all naturally-aspirated motors, you have to stretch to the redline to get a real move on and that’s where it feels a bit strained; the new turbo-petrol motors with their abundant low-end torque have spoilt us.
You’re right! And it is a very good motor, making 182.5bhp and 400Nm of torque. And more than the petrol this is the motor that really suits the Tucson’s character.
We drove the automatic-equipped Tucson, the one that Hyundai expects will account for a bulk of the sales, and it delivers very strong initial acceleration. Select Sport mode on the Drive Mode selector and the 6-speed automatic gearbox offers quicker shifts while holding on to gears much longer – all making for an SUV that is quite an enthusiastic performer. The shifts aren’t DSG-quick but I didn’t find it lazy either and on some twisty roads we found outside Chandigarh, the engine-gearbox combo worked like a peach. There’s also very strong bottom- and mid-range torque making high-speed mile-munching a very relaxed affair. And throttle responses are much sharper thanks to the e-VGT where electronic actuators are used for vane opening and closing and result in more precise boost control for the variable geometry turbocharger. Also the NVH suppression engineering into the Tucson is highlighted even more, with the diesel powerplant being barely audible even at a high speed cruise.
They didn’t but things are changing and the most noticeable aspect is the steering is no longer vague and unresponsive. There is now more confidence from the helm, you’re more aware of what the front wheels are up to. That vagueness at dead centre that forced you to constantly make small corrections at speed is also gone. The Tucson has the nicest steering of any Hyundai I’ve driven, and a big step up from the Elantra with which it shares its platform. It’s still not best in class but the gap isn’t all that much any more either.
It is also stiffer than the Elantra and that has cut, in large part, the wallow and float that was synonymous with Korean cars. The ride is still good, though you can feel more pitter-patter at low speeds than in the Elantra or even the Creta. But build up speed and it gets better, soaking in bigger ruts and bumps with almost German-like elegance and none of the pogo-sticking that we’d become accustomed to. All the criticisms we’d levelled at Hyundai, on the ride and handling front, have really been taken to heart and every new Hyundai we’ve driven in the recent past has marked a big step up from the previous one. With the Tucson, Hyundai have set a new benchmark for themselves and I quite enjoyed driving it around the hills near Chandigarh.
Not at launch, the AWD variant will arrive in April, with a higher price tag, and a panoramic sunroof to go with it. As of now the Tucson is only front-wheel drive but despite 400Nm of diesel torque surging through the front wheels there isn’t overwhelming torque steer. With 172mm ground clearance there’s never any worry of grounding out even when indulging in a bit of off-roading.
If you think the Creta is a lakh or two more than what it should be then yes. But considering where the Creta and Santa Fe are priced, and also the immediate rivals to the two, the Tucson occupies a lovely sweet spot.
The range starts at Rs 18.99 lakh for the base manual and Rs 21.8 lakh for the GL (you don’t get ESP or the powered tail gate on the petrol). The diesel manual is priced at Rs 21.59 lakh while there are two versions of the automatic diesel, the GL at Rs 23.48 lakh and the GLS at Rs 24.99 lakh, all ex-showroom Delhi.
Remember these are the prices the Fortuner was launched at, when it used to clock nearly 3000 units a month and now that all the main rivals have become more expensive, and the only competition at this price range is the petrol-only Honda CR-V Hyundai’s sales target of 700 units a month doesn’t seem optimistic at all.
Let’s accept it, the jump from the Creta to the Santa Fe was way too much and there were hardly going to be any upgrades. But the jump from Creta to Tucson isn’t all that much and with demand for the Creta (a huge chunk being the most expensive variant) showing no sign of flagging, I expect there to be equally strong (for its segment) demand for the Tucson. Forget the fact that there is hardly any competition at this price, with the Tucson, Hyundai have set a new benchmark and gets an enthusiastic buy rating.
evo rating: 4.5/5