- Car Reviews
Roomy, drives neatly, abundant in well-conceived tech
There's a chance the looks won't do it for you
What is it?
Hyundai’s Tucson SUV has been out for a year or two now, but even that amount of time hasn’t dulled the car’s impact on first sight. There are bajillions of medium-sized family SUVs available these days, but this car stands out. Whether you like the look of its Parametric Hidden Lights or not, it’s surely got your attention alongisde the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and VW Tiguan.
Still, eye-jolting aesthetics are just one half of the bargain. If it can’t back up the looks by working where it counts then the efforts of whichever brave designer looked at a drinks crate with a glint in their eye will all come to nothing.
So Hyundai's found its mojo?
Well it seems like it – this is Hyundai at its most strident and confident, with an impressive consistency across its entire range. The Tucson name first appeared in 2004, on a quirky looking car that put value for money above all else. The two generations which followed (one of which was called ix35 in the UK) sacrificed any aesthetic interest in order to chase the tidy dynamics and interior quality of rivals. Now Hyundai’s nailed those, interesting styling is truly back on the menu.
Hyundai says the Tucson wasn’t created by traditional sketching, but “through geometric algorithms produced by cutting-edge digital technology”. What we’re picturing is a computerised version of those Spirograph kits we played with as kids. What it has pumped out is pretty memorable, with the headlights, DRL and indicators hidden among little lozenges in the grille – only coming to life as they’re switched on – and the wheelarches looking like the end result of staring at a Lamborghini Countach poster before a cheese dream.
It’s notable because Hyundai’s engineering team is rammed full of former BMW employees. We’d argue their current workplace is more successfully pumping out bold design ideas than their former stomping ground…
What else has the Tucson got going for it?
Backing up the bold styling is a tech-packed interior (which can’t help but feel a touch conventional when it’s sheathed by such wild wrapping) and a mixture of powertrains, which heavily feature electrification.
All engines are variations of the same 1.6-litre turbo petrol. The base car has a manual gearbox, with front-wheel drive, 148bhp and no electrical assistance. Then there are two mild hybrids with 148bhp or 178bhp. The former is manual or auto but FWD only, while latter is auto only and gets the option of AWD. A full hybrid links a 44.2kW (59bhp) electric motor with the same 1.6-litre turbo (for a 227bhp total) and AWD. And the plug-in hybrid version at the top of the tree boasts 261bhp and around 30 miles of electric range.
Will there be an N version?
It would be hasty to rule out a Tucson N, there’s already an ‘N Line’ Tucson with sportier styling, after all. Likewise the notion of a fully electric version of the car, especially given the Kia version of the car, the Niro, has long offered an EV option.
Loads more options than the cars before it, then. Dynamically it ought to have more depth, too, with development miles encompassing everything from laps of the Nürburgring to hauling trailers around the Alps. So it looks more arresting than the bulk of its competitors. But is it any more arresting to drive?
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Love the way it looks? Then the Tucson doesn’t put a foot wrong, driving eloquently and brimming with well implemented tech. Always bought Hyundais for their sensibility, and not so sure on the styling? Then rest assured the only thing longer than the equipment list is the warranty.
This fourth-gen SUV proves how broad-shouldered Hyundai’s getting. The first Tucson was odd looking and not in an especially confident way, the two cars which followed it anonymous beyond belief, while this one is a real statement – a borderline essential approach to attracting any attention in a most aesthetically homogenous (and saturated) genre of the car market. If former Tucson buyers don’t like it, then maybe that’s the point.