On the move, the Tucson prioritises comfort over the kind of firmer set-up that would deliver a sharper feel through the bends. As a result, this is one of the better-riding contenders in this segment, the damping fairly easily shrugging off potholes and minor tarmac imperfections. The rather vague electric power steering doesn’t really incentivise you to push on much through the corners but if you do, you’ll find that there’s actually quite a lot of traction on offer, aided by the torque vectoring technology of an ‘ATCC’ ‘Advanced Traction Cornering Control’ system. Choosing one of the 4WD variants would obvious help in this regard too, these using a part-time system that shifts traction rearwards should a loss of grip demand it. Off road, the potential of this set-up is limited by a lack of ground clearance but muddy carparks and icy driveways will be well within your remit.
When it comes to engines, it’s well worth finding the price premium to progress from the rather feeble 132PS entry-level 1. 6-litre GDi petrol unit to the 116PS 1. 7-litre CRDi diesel that most will want. Hyundai’s ‘Blue Drive’ package allows this base diesel to return 61. 4mpg on the combined cycle and 119g/km of CO2. Buyers wanting that 4WD option though, will need to trade up to the pokier 2. 0-litre CRDi diesel variants. All-wheel traction is an option with the 136PS version of this unit and standard if you go for the 185PS variant. You also have to have 4WD if you choose the top 1. 6 T-GDI petrol derivative we’re trying here. This top 177PS flagship version gets the option of an efficient DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission if you want it.
More than anything else, it’s probably the design of this Tucson that will do most to interest Crossover buyers. The styling’s been clearly inspired by the brand’s larger and very good looking Santa Fe SUV and is a world away from the rather apologetic look of the old ix35 model this car replaced. Flowing surfaces, bold proportions and sharp lines certainly make it look one of the more attractive cars in this class.
Take a seat behind the wheel and you get the commanding view over the traffic that Crossover drivers like so much in a cabin that’s smart and logically laid out.
True, the splashes of metallic brightwork you’ll find around the dash may clearly be painted plastic but they’ve been carefully chosen and fit and finish from the Czech factory is excellent – to the point where, to be honest, the soft-touch textures on offer around the dash show a lot of better established brands how it should be done. You don’t even get the shiny steering column stalks that usually betray Hyundai’s budget brand origins and in the centre of the fascia, there’s the classy excellence of an 8-inch colour dash touchscreen that’s your interface for controlling satellite navigation, a six-speaker DAB stereo and an integrated rear view camera.
Time to move to the rear seat. Fortunately, this rearward-sloping roof doesn’t really impede access that’s aided by these wide-opening doors.
Take a seat back here and there’s no doubt that this is the most spacious cabin Hyundai has so far provided in this class.
Rear passengers will also appreciate the provision of their own air vents, the seat heating you get on top models and the fact that the seatbacks recline for greater comfort on longer journeys.
And out back? Well raise the tailgate – it can be electrically-powered if you go for top model like this one – and a 513-litre boot is revealed, though that falls to 488-litres with the full-sized spare wheel that’s provided above entry-level trim and uses up what would otherwise be this useful area below the boot floor.
Like all Crossovers, this one is going to look appealing in the showroom, blending the style of an SUV, the sensible practicality of a 5-seater mini-MPV and the affordability of a family hatchback into one practical lifestyle-orientated package. With this Tucson, Hyundai has interpreted this formula in a way that the mass market will like and at last has given itself a thoroughly credible Qashqai competitor.
We reckon it’s a step in the right direction – and very much a Hyundai of the modern era. Which makes it a very competitive car indeed.