Published on November 1st, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
Hyundai Tucson Media Drive and Review
The compact SUV is a very difficult type of vehicle to get right. While companies have had decades upon decades to perfect the sedan, SUVs are still a relatively new concept and so much of what defines the segment changes with every new generation. For Hyundai, the Tucson has been about marrying rugged off-roader design cues to a very accessible soft-roader. It was a formula that worked well, with close to 3 million units sold globally since its release about 10 years ago.
While the first generation featured pretty conservative looks and was rather value-oriented, the second generation was quite a different story altogether. Hyundai had just invested heavily in improving its facilities and as a result it was able to deliver a bona fide premium quality product that looked great and drove well while still being competitively priced. You can imagine how important the Tucson was in elevating the public’s perception of and respect for Korean cars to the level Japanese cars began to enjoy in the late 80s. So you can imagine how significant its replacement was to Hyundai.
In order to truly show off its all-new Tucson, Hyundai organised a road trip from Capiz to Aklan on the beautiful Philippine island of Panay. Set against a lush tropical countryside and scenic small towns, the drive successfully brought out the driving characteristic and design elements as we drove through highways, crowded streets and backroads at both during the day and at night. Were we pleased with what we found? Well let’s start with what’s immediately apparent: it looks fantastic.
The all-new Tucson is a great example of how a car company can revolutionize a design without losing its identity. Hyundai calls its new design direction ‘Fluidic Sculpture 2.0’ – an evolution of the original Fluidic Sculpture found on the previous generation. This improved design language trades curves for hard edges delivering an overall look that is undoubtedly more masculine and giving us one of Hyundai’s most aggressive looking cars, bearing a close resemblance to its bigger brother, the Santa Fe. It’s a great design with great colour choices with Ara Blue, Ruby Wine, Milk Tea and Phantom Black being particularly lovely.
In terms of generational changes, the biggest departure in terms of exterior styling here can be seen at the rear, where the license plate is now placed much lower – just above the bumper. This distances the Tucson from the traditional SUV/off-roader look. Some might argue that this rear end looks too much like the Kia Sportage, but closer inspection reveals that the Hyundai has a much steeper slope to its rear window and more dynamic than its Kia equivalent.
Over on the inside, Hyundai have kept things plain but functional. The entire cabin is finished in black with hints of metallic trim tastefully laid out throughout. There’s a nice theme that goes on inside. Hyundai’s corporate design is built around the hexagonal shape, and you see this in front of the car with its large pronounced grille. The interior also sees this theme continue with the hexagonal motif being repeated on the cutout surrounding the centre infotainment cluster and to a lesser degree on the steering wheel. It’s not the flashiest interior in this segment, but it certainly conveys spaciousness and premium build quality well. It’s large enough for 5 adults, so if you expected a third row of seats, you’ll be disappointed. Trunk space is quite exceptional though, with 513 litres available without even having to fold down the rear seats.
Hyundai has seen fit to emphasize safety on the all-new Tucson, evident by the fact that it received the highest possible rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and a 5-star NHTSA for the United States market. Vehicle Stability Management and Electronic Stability Control make a welcome appearance as well, with the 6 airbags being the cherry on top. Speaking of those airbags, Hyundai have developed a system that allows for crash speed-dependent dual stage deployment which minimizes the chance of injury from the airbags themselves. For the chassis, use of high strength steel has more than doubled in this 3rd generation Tucson, which is great not just for safety but for driving performance as well given the added rigidity.
We tested both the petrol 2.0 MPi and the diesel 2.0 CRDi engines – but only a former will be available in Malaysia for now. The petrol is capable of 157 PS and about 196Nm of torque while the diesel unit puts out a more exciting 178 PS and 400 Nm. Both engines performed well on the tight and twisty roads of the Aklan and Capiz provinces. For a mid-sized SUV, the Tucson drove much like a sedan at speeds of up to 80km/h. Straight stretches of highway demonstrated that it was also capable as a cruiser with pretty admirable comfort.
So in summary, the new Tucson is a great looker, big on safety, roomy, safe and good value for money. It’s biggest downside would be the plain interior, but when you consider the fact that it’s tastefully done, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. Should the new Tucson be on your radar if you’re looking for a new SUV? Definitely. Test drive it when it’s ready, or register your interest on Hyundai Malaysia’s website here. Prices have yet to be announced, but expect prices to be above the RM100,000 mark.
Hyundai Tucson Nu 2.0 MPi Specifications
Engine In-line 4 direct injection petrol
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Max Power 157PS @ 6200RPM
Max Torque 196NM @ 4,000