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Hyundai Tucson First Drive Review

What is it?

It seems Hyundai can't put a foot wrong. Every car they have launched in the past 6-7 years has further cemented their position in the highly competent Indian market. Now in form of the Tucson, they seem to have yet another winner up their sleeve. What works in its favour further is that it doesn’t have competition either. The first generation of this SUV, which was launched in 2005 didn’t taste much success and was discontinued after five years of struggle and the second gen of the SUV which was launched globally in 2009 never made it to our shores. Now high on confidence, the Korean manufacturer is back with the third generation of the Tucson and on first impression it definitely looks like a winner.  

As far as looks are concerned, the mini Santa Fe stance certainly works in Tucson’s favour. Upfront there's a healthy dose of chrome on the trademark hexagonal grille, the swept-back dual barrel LED headlamps look very modern and detailing on the chiselled bumper is attractive too. Even in profile, the Tucson holds your attention, thanks to the strong shoulder line and curved glasshouse. From the rear it looks quite similar to the Creta, but when looked at closely, you do get more modern cuts and creases to help it stand out from its cheaper sibling. 

Although Hyundai claims the chassis to be all-new, the Tucson’s basic architecture is quite similar to the second generation car. But Hyundai have worked on it to a great extent, as the new car has a much more rigid structure thanks to Hyundai using more high-strength steel compared to the last generation car. On top of that, Hyundai have also used lot of adhesive application on the chassis, which will not only improve rigidity but also help reduce NVH and vibrations.

How is it on the inside?

Like the exteriors, the cabin of the Tucson is quite stylish and contemporary. It looks interesting and thoroughly modern and the large 8-inch touchscreen is high set, which makes it easy to use on the move. The vertical vents beside it look unique giving the dashboard a mini Santa Fe look. The air-con control housing is very ergonomic and the large knobs and buttons make it easy to use. Overall quality is very impressive and all the touch points like the dash-top, armrest, steering and gear knob is either finished in soft plastics or leather. The high-res infotainment screen is very sensitive and though it has some lag, it functions with precision and is easy to scroll through. The unit also boasts of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which only adds to the overall experience.

The driving position in the new Tucson is high-set and you get a good view of your surroundings. The seat itself offers good lateral support and the cushioning felt spot-on too. Thanks to the Tucson’s large dimensions, there’s a lot of space for rear-seat passengers and the adjustable backrest just adds to the experience. But to generate more headroom the bench is set quite low, which in turn compromises on thigh support. The rising rear window-line also makes the back-seat ambiance a little claustrophobic. What also could have been better at the rear is the centre armrest, which is placed a bit too high.

The boot at around 513-litres is big enough and its square shape and low loading lip makes it very usable. The flexibility of having a 60:40 folding rear seat makes this a very practical car.

 As ever with Hyundai, the Tucson is well equipped. Apart from the touchscreen, you’ll find things like auto headlamps, keyless entry and go, cruise control, powered driver’s seat, six airbags, powered tailgate, ESP and of course, Bluetooth on this top GLS model. But we did miss things like automatic wipers, ventilated seats and sunroof.

How does it drive?

Like the rest of the car, the 2.0-litre diesel engine is all-new too. The new 1995cc four cylinder turbocharged unit is good for 183bhp and 400Nm of healthy torque from as low as 1750rpm. It gets a new Bosch injection system which operates at a higher 2000bar pressure and it also features e-VGT to reduce the amount of turbo lag. It is coupled to the same 6-speed automatic transmission found on the Elantra, but is upgraded for quicker response and fuel efficiency. 

The first thing you notice as soon as you start this motor, is that it definitely feels noisier than the smaller 1.6-litre unit in the Elantra. But it still feels quieter than the 2.0-litre diesel mill found on VW group cars. Step on the gas and the immediate responses of the engine are impressive. The Tucson accelerates in an extremely linear manner and this makes it great for in town use.  Even on the highway it is deceptively quick, whisking you forward from as little as 1800rpm and it’s only when you look at the speedo that you realise that you’re going much faster than you anticipated. The strong midrange also makes overtaking easy and this makes for a good long distance car. The upgraded 6-speed auto is willing too. It feels light on its foot and ready to downshift whenever the need arises. You also get driving modes standard in the top-of-the-line GLS variant. In Eco mode, the gearbox keeps the engine in the highest gear possible to aid fuel efficiency. But even then, the surplus of torque makes this mode usable in all driving conditions. In Sport mode the gearbox keeps the engine at high revs and the throttle response is more immediate too. But in this mode the engine becomes a bit too vocal and unless you are in the mood to drive fast, the Eco mode works better. The torquey nature of the motor is confirmed by our Vbox timing gear. In the sprint to 100kmph, the Tucson posted a brisk figure of 8.73 seconds.

Thanks to the rigid chassis, we were expecting good dynamics from this Hyundai SUV. At low speeds, thanks to the soft suspension setup the Tucson gobbles deepest of potholes with ease. Light controls, great sound insulation and quiet suspension further add to the stress-free nature of the Tucson. Up the speed however and the limitations of the Tucson’s dynamic envelope comes to the fore. Though high speed stability is very good, the softly-sprung Tucson does tend to bounce (especially at the rear) and also tends to roll a fair bit when driven fast. On a twisty section you'd wish the Tucson's steering offered more feel too.

Should I buy one?

On the whole, the Tucson doesn't have much to offer enthusiasts but it makes a great choice as a family car. With the Honda CRV being its only rival, the fact that the Tucson gets a powerful diesel motor option makes it a much more tempting buy. It gets loads of kit too and does look rather special. Priced in between Rs 18.99 lakh (petrol M/T) to Rs 24.99 lakh (GLS diesel A/T) the Tucson slots right in between the smaller Creta and the premium Santa Fe. With rivals like the Volkswagen Tiguan still some time away, the Tucson has a clear road ahead to be yet another success story for Hyundai. It does have some limitations yet it works really well as a family car. So the Hyundai Tucson isn’t a SUV to die for but it’s also a product you can’t go wrong with.

Where does it fit in?

For now, the Tucson only has the Honda CR-V as its competitor, but in future things will get more interesting when Volkswagen launches the Tiguan in the Indian market.

Photos

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Hyundai Tucson Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Chennai₹ 22.76 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 23.56 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 22.62 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 21.04 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 21.79 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 22.2 Lakhs onwards
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