Hyundai Tuscon – bestseller after facelift

The Hyundai Tucson is one of the best-selling midsize SUVs. It owes this to its design, utility features and affordable price. It recently underwent a facelift that smoothed out incipient wrinkles, upgraded technology and improved the interior. We test the car in full Premium trim, with four-wheel drive and, unusually, a T-GDi petrol engine.Outside

The exterior was already one of the Tucson’s strengths before the facelift, so there was no need to make major changes. Up front, the grille has been enlarged, fog lights have been merged with daytime running lights and subtle retouching can be seen on the bumper. The front headlights are fully LED. On the side, a chrome line has been added to the lower part of the windows and new, very nicely crafted 19″ wheels have been added. The rear LED headlights have been given new graphics, making them look cleaner and more modern. Hyundai is one of the few manufacturers that doesn’t hide the exhausts on its models, instead highlighting them on the Tucson with chunky square tailpipes. The distinctive blue colour makes the chrome accents stand out and suits the car extremely well.

Inside

Inside, the first thing that caught my eye was the new 8-inch infotainment display, which is no longer part of the dashboard as in the pre-facelift model, but is pulled out in “tablet form” on top of it. Freeing up space allowed the designers to move the ventilation vents below the multimedia system display. Quilted imitation leather added elegance to the interior. The top of the dashboard is made up of soft plastic, the rest is hard but looks just as valuable.

The air-conditioning panel impresses me nicely and, most importantly, practically, with its multitude of buttons. However, I don’t like the blue colour of the characters on its display, which isn’t the most pleasing in the dark, and especially differs from the white of the dashboard characters.

I was expecting the steering wheel from the i30 to be used after the facelift, as the current shape of the steering wheel and the buttons on it are already outdated. Functionally, however, there’s nothing to fault it. I was happy with the instrument cluster with its analogue speedometer and rev counter and the TFT display in between. Switching between the multitude of information was virtually handled by the buttons on the steering wheel.

The centre tunnel provided space for stowage and inductive mobile phone charging and a number of handy compartments. I was pleased with the design of the automatic selector and associated buttons.

I liked the simple but tasteful door trim. However, I do have a reservation about the cheap material used for the window control buttons and the smooth plastic around them. It’s a shame the manufacturer forgot to cover the sills, which can lead to dirty trousers when crossing them.

The leather (heated and cooled) seats look relatively plain. They are without any significant contouring or lateral guidance.

Behind the Wheel

Getting into the car is comfortable. The range of adjustment of the steering wheel, the excellent position of the pedals and the seat all contribute to a near-ideal seating position. However, at first I was not happy with the seats. I felt like I was not sitting in them, but on them. I would have liked to see a more pronounced shaping of the backrest and a slightly lower seating position. The adjustable lumbar support was positioned a little higher than I would have needed. However, after a while I got used to it and stopped seeing it as a disadvantage.

I appreciate that most of the car’s functions are controlled by classic buttons. I admit that navigating through the multitude of them is not easy at first, but after a few days one gets used to them and controls them by touch alone. The almost perfect view from the car is spoiled only by the thicker A-pillar. I also praise the large rear-view mirrors.

There is plenty of space in every direction in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel has a thicker-than-average rim and grips well. The center armrest, while not adjustable or sliding, was fine with its placement. The infotainment display is within easy reach and easy to operate. I’ve traditionally used Waze as my navigation thanks to Android Auto support. However, it was necessary to use the original thick cable to connect the mobile phone to the multimedia system.

On the Road

I was positively surprised by the Tuscon’s driving characteristics. The chassis is noticeably stiff, but still above-average comfortable even at 19″ (245/45 R19) wheels. The rear multi-link axle does its job perfectly, doesn’t bounce when cornering on uneven surfaces and keeps the car pointed in the desired direction. The car ignores normal bumps, and lets you know about bigger ones with a muffled sound. When driving, it was possible to know in advance how the car would behave. I liked the stealthiness of the chassis and the little roll in corners. I also appreciated the work of the stabilization system, which didn’t intervene too early and allowed the car to be driven a bit more aggressively by SUV standards. This, by the way, was also made possible by the engine that powered the Hyundai tested.

It is a petrol four-cylinder with a displacement of 1591 cc, a maximum power output of 130 kW at 5500 rpm and a torque of 265 Nm between 1500 and 4500 rpm. Once started, the engine is remarkably quiet and vibration-free. I liked its explosiveness and willingness to go into revs. It delivers a steady pull starting below 2000 rpm and ending at 6500. Throttle response is not instantaneous though, but turbo lag is well suppressed. I really liked the engine’s manifestation in the Tucson. I consider the gasoline consumption to be a big minus, I find the 10 l/100 km figure to be too high. I’ve done similar driving styles on the same routes with the Mazda CX-5 with the 2.5-litre petrol engine (194k) and the Coda Kodiaq with the 2.0 TSI (190k). The difference in fuel consumption in the former is two litres, in the latter a litre to the detriment of the Tucson. Such consumption forces the driver to fill up too often, despite the rather capacious 62-litre tank. I will come back to the consumption, break it down and compare it with the diesel engine.

The engine has been mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox of our own manufacture. As with the brand’s recently tested models (Kona, i30 Fastback), I’ve been exceedingly happy with it. It shifts quickly, logically, and takes off from a stop smoothly and without a twitch. It gets along with the unit tested, doesn’t rev it unnecessarily, and makes use of its wide range of maximum torque. It tries to keep the revs as low as possible in normal mode, which causes a brief hesitation in the gearbox when trying to accelerate hard. Sport mode keeps the gear 1-2 gears lower, reducing shift times significantly. Engine responses are instantaneous and the throttle pedal is considerably more responsive.

Driving in moderately dense city traffic pushed consumption above 12 litres. Apart from that, I was happy with the car in the city. A 10.6 turning average and steering wheel revs between stops of just 2.4 made the Tucson very agile. Its compact dimensions and above-average visibility helped it easily squeeze through the mass of cars ahead. Parking was convenient thanks to four cameras providing a 360-degree view around the car.

On county roads, in addition to the lively engine and decent chassis, I appreciated the excellent steering, which feels immediate, stiff, with no play around the centreline and fairly direct. However, when the lane-keeping assist is engaged, the steering loses its naturalness and struggles a little with the driver. On the other hand, its ability to follow the lanes even in steeper corners is admirable. The assistance systems are traditionally exemplary. As an example for everything, I will mention in particular the excellently functioning adaptive cruise control with the autonomous stop-start function. The chassis allows for relatively fast cornering, enhanced in sport mode by the engine’s quick response to the accelerator pedal. Even when trying to drive economically, I was unable to reduce consumption below 8 litres. In normal brisk driving, I achieved 9.4.

I was positively surprised by the low aerodynamic noise and the excellently soundproofed chassis when driving on the motorway. In strong winds, the noise was still acceptable, but its gusts could be felt, which is natural given the height of the car. Even at highway pace, the engine has plenty of power and accelerates briskly to at least 160 km/h. Consumption depended precisely on the strength and direction of the wind, and at 130-140 km/h it was in the range of 10.7-13 litres. On the expressway at 100 – 110 km/h it did not fall below 8.5.

In the table below, I have attached the revs in 7th gear at each speed:

Speed in km/hRPM
100slightly under 2000
1102100
1202300
1302500
1402700

While I don’t base the drivetrain on being too short, I attribute the high consumption to the small engine capacity, in addition to the higher weight (almost 1700 kg). In my opinion, a 2.0 T-GDi engine from Concern would do a better service, while its power could be reduced to a similar value as the one – six tested.

Price, features, practicality

The price of the model tested is €33,690 (€30,190 + €2,000 for the automatic + €500 for the metallic paint + €1,000 for the leather seat upholstery). I find it very reasonable, plus it is often reduced by importer’s promotional offers. At the time of publishing the test, the importer offers a bonus of 1500 EUR if certain conditions are met , which reduces the final price to 32 190 EUR. Of course, there is a 5 – year warranty with no mileage limit.

Now I will come back to consumption. A Tucson with a comparably powerful diesel engine (136 kW) is exactly €3,100 more expensive and achieves a real-world consumption 2 litres lower than the test car. At the average prices of petrol (€1.271/litre) and diesel (€1.134) as of 23 October 2018, the advantage of the lower price of the petrol version only starts to disappear after 86,000 km.

The equipment is virtually complete and will satisfy even the most demanding customer. I was happy with the new LED low beam headlights, but the high beam headlights shine too high. However, I believe this is just a matter of adjustment at the dealership. I may have missed the head-up display and seat adjustment memory from the equipment.

The car will provide for the needs of a family of four with margin. The rear seats are reclining and comfortable enough. Sitting “behind” me, there was still 5cm of space in front of my knees (at 185cm tall). Installation of the child seat is easy, the back of the front seats are „protected&#8220from children&#8220by plastic.

Not forgotten are the various compartments and storage spaces. A full-size spare takes litres out of the boot. Its volume of 488 litres is nevertheless sufficient. There is an electrical socket, hooks for bags and for attaching a net.

Verdict

The facelifted Tucson has rejuvenated on one hand and grown up on the other. It offers appealing styling, a modern and quiet interior, a comfortable and confident chassis and a dynamic, if somewhat thirsty, engine. Well-priced pricing ensures that the Tucson will continue to remain at the top of the sales charts in this increasingly crowded compact SUV segment.