Hyundai’s Tucson brand is back after a short stint posing as the iX35, and better than ever. The changing of the name from iX35 back to Tucson is simply to ensure that the nomenclature is now globally uniform.
There are five derivatives initially, but a diesel is likely around midyear. The entry-level Tucson is the Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Premium with either a manual 6-speed gearbox or automatic 6-speed transmission. The flagship is the Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Elite derivative with the 7-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (7DCT) and All-Wheel Drive.
In between lies the Hyundai Tucson 2.0 Nu Elite, also with the 2-litre petrol engine and automatic 6-speed transmission, but with a high level of standard features. One step down in terms of standard features is the Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Executive, also with the new turbocharged 1,6-litre petrol engine, but with a manual 6-speed gearbox.
The Executive offers a level of comfort and standard features that fits in between the Premium and Elite offerings. The most striking aspect of the Tucson to my mind was the quality of its ride, both on and offroad.
Hyundai say the new chassis has been developed with a focus on ride comfort without compromising driving dynamics. They appear to have succeeded, with even the front wheel drive model handling dirt roads with aplomb.
Technologically this is due to a front suspension that features a McPherson strut system, receiving a new rebound spring and four bush mountings on the subframe to enhance comfort and reduce NVH. The multilink rear suspension system is improved to enhance overall dynamics.
As in the front, the rear subframe receives four bush mountings, while the upper and lower suspension arms are increased in length to enhance overall suspension performance.
Hyundai Motor has developed every element of the chassis to enhance high-speed and cornering stability, while also maximising the benefits of the long wheelbase (2670 mm) and wide track to optimise ride and handling characteristics for European roads and consumer needs.
A new electric motor-driven power steering (MDPS) system features newly developed software and a rack-mounted electric motor. It is tuned for the European market which is largely that to which South African motorists are accustomed.
Indeed much of the design and testing was done in Germany and other parts of Europe where Hyundai have extensive facilities. Cornering performance is enhanced with Advanced Traction Cornering Control (ATCC), combining the 4WD variable torque distribution and ESC. In the event of understeer, higher torque is applied to the rear axle, while braking the inner wheel, improving cornering performance.
Certainly the Tucson’s high speed road manners were good. The new Drive Mode Select function on automatic transmission models offers customers a choice of two drive modes – Normal and Sport – with different characteristics for the steering and transmission (for AT or 7DCT versions).
Hyundai have also put a lot of work into reducing cabin noise and the Tuscon is not only comfortable, but also quiet when underway. At the front an underfloor cover is fitted beneath the engine bay, while at the rear a change to bush-mounting rather than solid-mounting for the rear subframe isolates the cabin from road surface irregularities transferred through the rear suspension.
Front seats feature long seat cushions and there is electric power adjustment for the driver and front passenger in the Elite derivatives, and two-way electric powered lumbar support for the driver’s seat.
Space is obviously a significant consideration when looking at an SUV and the Tucson is a tad bigger than its iX35 predecessor. With all seats upright the luggage area has 513 litres of capacity.
This increases to 1 503 litres with the rear seats folded. Practicality is boosted by a lower trunk-sill height, two-level trunk floor and a stowable cargo cover. The centre console of the allnew Tucson has been redesigned and features a sound system with Bluetooth connectivity that enables music to be streamed from a smartphone or iPod, and connecting with a cell phone with the added comfort and safety feature of steering wheel operating buttons.
A navigation system, available as a R15 000 option in all the derivatives, substantially enhances the interior aesthetically. Also, although it was not the case on the launch units I am told it will allow the reverse camera to be displayed on its larger screen rather than on the rearview mirror, which is somewhat inadequate.
A new seamless DAB+ digital radio with six audio speakers is standard across the range. Further connectivity is provided through USB and AUX connections in the centre console. The Tucson Elite is technologically up to date on the safety front and features a Blind Spot Detector (BSD) with Lane Change Assist, while both Executive and Elite derivatives feature Vehicle Stability Management which combines Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Motor Driven Power Steering (MDPS) to help the driver keep the vehicle under control in case of an emergency manoeuvre.
Under acceleration or braking on surfaces with different levels of grip, VSM applies selective steering forces to intuitively guide the driver to remain on course. This appeared pretty effective on what proved to be some fairly fast dirt roads.
For occupants there are six airbags, including driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags throughout the range. The Tucson range features the turbocharged 1.6-litre T-GDI petrol engine for the first time in a Hyundai SUV in South Africa.
Although the launch took place at more or less sea-level, the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine should really come into its own on the Highveld. It delivers 130 kW and 265 Nm and is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox or the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (7DCT), which gives a choice of fully automatic operation or manual gear changes.
The 2-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine delivers 115 kW and 196 Nm. In the range-topping Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Elite, the 1.6-litre T-GDI petrol engine is mated to a fourwheel drive (4WD) system.
The front wheels receive 100% of torque during normal road driving with up to 50% sent to the rear wheels, automatically, depending on conditions.