It’s early in the morning. I am driving on a glass-smooth road. It is mildly winding and clearly marked. So much so that I manage to engage the Hyundai Tucson’s ADAS suite without worry or interruption even though it is a single-carriageway. There are boldly marked white lines to guide the lane keep assist system. The bends in the road are lazy so as not to overwork the automatic steering system. And with barely any traffic, the adaptive cruise control isn’t braking or accelerating when you least expect it to. It’s surprisingly stress-free.
ADAS and more
As it turns out, it is easier to use ADAS on this lovely state highway in Rajasthan than on the four and six-lane roads I took in Maharashtra and Gujarat yesterday to get here. Yes, that was partly down to the fast but erratic moving traffic on the multi-laned national highways. But, the poor quality of the road - which needs serious looking into - had a role to play too. As for the Tucson, I am happy to report the ADAS works as expected. Plus, there’s a shortcut via the steering-mounted buttons to help deactivate the ADAS suite if one wants more independence and control of the driving.
Fruitful use of ADAS apart, road-tripping in Rajasthan offers so much more. The orange hue of the rising sun breaking its way through the darkness is a sight to behold, especially since nothing interrupts the view. It’s all flat, vast, and uninhabited. The endless sheet of mesmerising velvety sand dunes stops you in your tracks. And it’s liberating (and easy) to spot wildlife from peacocks to blue bulls - and on the rare occasion, a fox - crossing the road. Driving through Rajasthan, especially on the interior state highways, is a serene and gratifying experience.
Car in play
The Tucson played its part too. Its diesel engine is torquey and refined. And with the automatic ‘box, overtakes or returning to one’s pre-decided cruising speed - even if it is in three digits - comes easy. The ride quality, though not all-conquering, is still reasonably plush.
More importantly, even though the Tucson runs on large 18-inch wheels, there’s enough tyre on the rim to prevent damage to either if one misses spotting a few potholes or sharp bumps. I missed spotting quite a few on the multilane highways in both Maharashtra and Gujarat. But here we are, all well and good.
It’s also a pampering cabin to be in. The seats are lovely - large, cushy, and supportive - and the adjustable lumbar support is a god sent after a few hours of break-free driving. It’s also a quiet cabin which takes away the fatigue. The controls - steering, throttle and brake - don’t require much effort either which again bodes well for long trips. And if you let your speed hover around 90-100kmph, the Tucson returns many kilometres to a tank full.
However, if you continue to push beyond 100kmph, the fuel efficiency of this HTRAC, all-wheel drive version does drop. It’s not alarming, but for a two-litre diesel, I did expect more, even when driven harder than usual. The only other issue we found was the deterioration in the Tucson’s rear ride quality when we loaded it up to the brim. Being set up on the softer side, it tends to wallow more than we would deem comfortable over undulating roads. The boot itself though can house plenty of luggage.
With over 3,000km already wrapped up on this road-trip through western India, I can wholeheartedly recommend the diesel Tucson as a comfortable, easy, and potent long-distance travel companion. Yes, it has a couple of shortcomings, but these aren’t too difficult to work around.
What’s more, this is the all-wheel drive version. This means it should be able to go to the far reaches of this beautiful country without much of a bother. And it did. Late last year. It was this very car that I drove through the snowy and icy Zojila Pass. It was running the same road tyres, no snow chains, and even then it took on the slippery climbs with ease. I do not doubt that unless it is shown boulders for rocks or ruts deep enough to swallow a car, the Tucson should make it out alive from the most challenging conditions our roads might throw at it.
So, a good, capable and likeable highway car it sure is.
Version: Signature AWD R 2.0L
Kilometres this month: 4,380km
Fuel Efficiency: 15.4kmpl
Price: Rs 42.6 lakh (OTR, Mumbai)