The Hyundai Tucson has always been a consistent player in the mid-sized SUV segment. Despite stiff competition from its Japanese counterparts, the Tucson has always managed to solider on, getting just that little bit better with each generation. Now is the Tucson’s fourth round on the generation game and it is certainly striking to look at. It also promises a greater selection of powertrains including Hybrid and PHEV variants coming next year. The Tucson is one of Hyundai’s biggest cash cows so it needs to perform, but does it?
First off, you could never accuse Hyundai of not giving you enough variety with the new Tucson. All up there are 11 different trim levels to choose and currently, the choice of three engines. The range starts with the entry level 2.0L four-cylinder petrol FWD at $49,990 plus ORC and ends with the flagship 1.6L turbo diesel Limited AWD at $72,990 plus ORC.
My test car was the near-ish the top N-Line at $68,990 plus ORC. As the namesake suggests, while not a full performance N, the N-Line is aimed more at a sportier feel and look than its siblings. Grunt comes from a 1.6L turbo petrol four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed direct shift automatic sending 132kW and 265Nm of torque to all four wheels. That is an ample amount of grunt. Hyundai claim the N-Line is good for 6.9L/100km in overall fuel consumption and emit 157g of C02/km.
Going back to the new Tucson’s striking chops, the first thing you notice from the front is that new almost full-width grill. With the LED headlights on either side below the low bonnet line, the use of a stack of daytime running lights house within the grill design itself is a really nice touch. Because of this you would be forgiven for thinking the entire grill could be utilised as one big headlight.
From the side you have some haunches akin to a freshly pressed suit and some 19-inch alloys which are unique to the N-Line package. At the rear you get a sporty looking dual exhaust tip and a handsome set of taillights. The Hyundai emblem also sits floating above where the rear window meets the back which looks pretty cool. There are other tell-tale signs of N-Line thanks to emblems in the grill and front quarter. You also get rear scuff plates and flushed roof rails.
All in all, Hyundai’s efforts on the stylistic front have given what was once a very average looking SUV a new lease of life and a guarantee you are unlikely to lose it within the wide-open spaces of your local mall carpark.
Hyundai have come leaps and bounds in a short time when it comes to interior quality. So much so that the Korean car maker is now mentioned in the same breath as brands costing twice the price. It is very much business as usual with the new Tucson. All the switchgear feels very well put together and thanks to a rather high transmission tunnel, which features Hyundai’s now familiar push-button gear selectors, you do feel somewhat cocooned by your surroundings. There is also a great use of high-quality leather and other materials too.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system is very run-of-the-mill Hyundai, its very easy to operate and rather intuitive. Coming as standard for the Tucson N-Line are niceties like push-button start, sat nav, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, heated seats front and rear as well as ventilated seats at the front, heated steering wheel, auto headlights and wipers, digital instrument cluster dual zone climate control.
The new Tucson also sports a Five-Star ANCAP Safety Rating and features a fully comprehensive safety suite including lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, front and rear collision avoidance, rear cross traffic alert, autonomous engine breaking and auto dipping headlights.
Space is better this time around too, especially for those in the rear. Lankier folk have more head and legroom and there are a number of storage bins too. Boot space is rated a very healthy 680L which can grow to a gargantuan 1860L when the 60-40 split rear seats are folded up. Loading and unloading isn’t bad either and there are significant
Moving off and the N-Line requires a firm foot to make even sedate progress. I found that 1.6L turbo four pot a bit delayed down low. Apply more oomph and that turbo pressure builds sometimes when you aren’t ready for it and come 1500rpm you are off. However, once you are up and cruising, it ticks over nicely. There are three drive modes, ECO, Normal and Sport, with each having their own bespoke instrument cluster to view. In ECO mode it is quite frugal, tough the best I managed to average was 8.7/100km when I tried to tip toe in traffic.
Normal is, well, pretty normal. Between 1500 to 3500rpm there is some good pulling power to be had and despite having the ability to flick up for down the gears via the shift paddles, most of the time I was perfectly happy for that seven-speed box to the shifting for me. It is a great unit too, giving you crisp changes when you expect. Ride comfort is very plush, as is the lack of road noise or tyre roar. There is decent visibility up front but somewhat average at the rear.
Changing up to Sport the N-Line can flex its sporting muscles. There is body roll of course being an SUV an all, but it manages to be both direct and compliant in the bends. I wouldn’t call it super fun but there is enough here to make a brisk journey along a winding road entertaining enough. The sweet spot for the Tucson N-Line is a motorway journey. With the adaptive cruise set just so, it munches up the miles.
Despite a few niggles surrounding low down power, there is still plenty to like about the new Tucson. It would be interesting to see if Hyundai decided to let its sporty N division do the whole works on the Tucson and give us a Tucson N, maybe there could be a market there Hyundai? Anyway, four generations on and with plug in tech right around the corner, the Tucson is an even more compelling prospect.