Why I would buy one
- Handsome looks, feature-rich cabin
- Diesel performance, the option of 4x4
- Hyundai after sales and service
Why I would avoid it
- Some rivals offer more aspirational value
- Misses out on some features
Being the most expensive Hyundai you can buy in India – this 4WD AT we have here is Rs 32.57 lakh OTR Mumbai – is the biggest challenge for the Tucson. And it has a very tough set of competition now, in the form of Jeep Compass, Skoda Karoq, and even the Volkswagen T-Roc and Tiguan AllSpace. That makes it an arduous challenge for the Tucson to capitalise on its potent powertrain, easy and comfortable driving dynamics, spacious and feature-loaded cabin, and Hyundai’s proven after sales and service network.
Engines and Performance
Making 182bhp at 4,000rpm and 400Nm at 1,750rpm, the 2.0-litre CRDi diesel engine puts out 11bhp and 50Nm more than what you get in the Jeep Compass Trailhawk. Bolted on to this four-cylinder oil burner is an electronic variable geometry turbocharger (e-VGT) and the motor comes paired to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic. We found this BS6-compliant oil burner to be refined and remarkably silent when idling. Let off the brake, and the Tucson gets going in a smooth and progressive manner.
On the move, you’d notice that the engine wants to hover around 1,500rpm at light to partial throttle inputs. And the gearbox shifts seamlessly between 1,750-2,000rpm to keep the motor spinning at an effortless pace. But, a slight dab on the throttle and the Tucson manages to pace forward without any noticeable lag.
Similarly, for quick overtakes in the city, you need not plan your move as the gearbox is quick in kick-down as well. And if you want to get up to speed quickly, the engine races all the way up to 4,000rpm redline. It only gets vocal past 3,000rpm but you wouldn’t notice it, given the easy manner in which the Tucson reaches highway speeds. And the strong mid-range allows Tucson to maintain triple-digit speeds all day without straining the engine. Speaking of the gearbox, it was only a couple of times where it would hold on gear, making the engine sound snarly. But on usual usage, it won’t give any reason to complain.
The Tucson also comes with three driving modes – Eco, Comfort, and Sport. These driving modes alter the throttle response and steering, where everything is subdued in Eco and vice a versa in Sport. That doesn’t mean the Eco mode is any slouch, it can still rev happily to 4,000rpm redline and can accelerate hard when required. But in the Sport mode, the throttle response feels eager while the gearbox now holds gears for longer. Even the steering weighs up in the Sport mode, making it feel engaging to drive. But you do hear the engine more in the Sport mode which is a good tradeoff for a fun-to-drive nature. Meanwhile, the Comfort mode is the middle ground and so you could leave the car in the Comfort for your everyday driving.
Ride and Handling
Hyundai seems to have struck the right chords with the ride quality of the Tucson. Riding on 225/55 R18 section tyres, the Tucson’s suspension set-up manages to absorb everything in its way without any fuss. Even at slow speeds, the irregularities are barely noticeable. We even put it through some crater-sized potholes which it treaded over without a sweat. And those sharp bumps and creases don’t send a thud inside the cabin either. As the speed increases, the Tucson manages to flatten out the undulations and highway road joints with ease. Moreover, the body movement in this five-seater SUV is well under control and doesn’t cause the passenger any discomfort.
As for the steering, we found it to be on the heavier side, especially at low speeds. But it does get better at higher speeds. And there’s also slight vagueness off the dead centre. But beyond that, the steering feels direct and responsive. It’s also quick, going less than two-and-a-half turns lock-to-lock. As for the brakes, they failed to impress due to their lack of bite and feel. We think the Tucson deserves a better set of brakes to make the best use of those 180 horses.
Lastly, this top-spec Tucson comes with electronically-lockable 4x4 hardware which includes ‘automatic traction cornering control’. This simply controls the power sent to the rear wheels depending on the traction available on the road surface. We didn’t get a chance to try the off-roading prowess of the Tucson, so that’s something for the next time.
Interior Space and Quality
Step inside – which is easy, not ‘walking-in’ easy, but fairly easy – and the Tucson’s all-black cabin looks familiar. Many elements here are shared with other Hyundai models. Nonetheless, the doors shut with an assuring thud and that gives you the feeling of an expensive Hyundai. Even fit and finish of materials used all around is top-notch and there are no complaints about that. There’s ample space up front, more than enough headroom for my height (I am 5’5), and even after an all-black treatment, the cabin feels airy. You get a good view outside which means visibility is another plus point. The large and comfortable seats offer ample support at all the right places. They are electrically adjustable too, but we think it needed more under-thigh support.
The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels the right size. It’s a practical cabin too, with more than ample usable space around the centre console, large door pads, and arm-rest storage. Even the centre console feels uncluttered and the buttons on it feel good to use as well. The floating touchscreen system uses the same interface as the one seen on the other Hyundai line-up, but the presence of physical buttons on either side add to its usability to a great extent.
Moving on to the second-row seats, which again are easy to get into, and there’s more than sufficient legroom on offer. Here, the seats are comfortable with good support and the reclining backrest adds to it. There’s ample shoulder room for three to sit abreast and adequate headroom as well since you sit quite lower into the seat. All three passengers get adjustable headrest and middle one also has a provision of a three-point seatbelt.
Lastly, the massive boot space could carry a couple of large suitcases along with some smaller bags with ample room to spare for other knick-knacks. What’s more, the 60-40 split-seats can be folded down flat, should you want more space.
Features and Safety
Being a Hyundai, and the most expensive one at it, the new Tucson is loaded with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from an SUV in this segment. Its long list of features includes a full-size panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, electrically adjustable front row seats, auto-dimming IRVM, cooled glovebox, wireless charger, and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Even the eight-speaker Infinity system sounds good. Adding to Hyundai’s BlueLink connected car tech are the various smartphone connectivity apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
On the safety front, the Tucson is equipped with dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS and EBD with brake assist, hill start, and descent control. You also get convenient features like front and rear parking sensors with a reverse camera, but there’s no option of a 360-degree camera. It also misses out on cooled seats, which are sorely missed.
An ‘expensive Hyundai’ is a paradox. Where smaller, affordable Hyundais sell like hotcakes, the bigger and expensive ones have a hard time finding takers. Take the Elantra or Sonata for example, or the erstwhile Santa Fe and Terracan. This poses a similar challenge for the Tucson. Updated a few months back with BS6 line-up and a mid-life update, the Tucson continues with its handsome looks, striking proportions, feature-loaded and spacious cabin, and a powertrain line-up which is potent and easy to drive.
But it is also expensive. You’d also need to consider that this is an older-gen model and a new one has already been revealed in the international markets. But if you look at it, the new Tucson ticks all the right boxes of everything you’d expect from a D-segment SUV. As a product, the Tucson is hard to fault.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi