What is it?
The SUV craze in India is showing no signs of cooling off with more and more of the segment vehicles entering our roads. Not long ago, you could only order an SUV in size XL. Today they come in all shapes and sizes, from full-size seven-seaters to sporty crossovers, sub-4 metre compacts, and even in hatchback sizes. Manufacturers are launching SUVs as fast as they can and all of them are finding some level of success. Hyundai too, is riding the wave with its hugely popular Creta which has put the company firmly into the SUV bandwagon.
The all-new Tucson slots into the gap between the Creta and the Santa Fe to complete Hyundai’s SUV range and marks a return to India. The first-generation Tucson made its India debut in 2005, but failed to find success. Hyundai did not bother with the second generation. Now with the third generation Tucson coming to a market that is devouring SUVs, coupled with Hyundai’s growing brand appeal, the Korean company is confident of success.
What is it like?
The new Tucson wears the company’s Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 design and carries the family look of its stable mates. However, it’s more Santa Fe than Creta. What gives it away are the very detailed headlights which are dual-barrel LED units. This is no big butch SUV, and it doesn't try to be one. It's an urban soft-roader that's stylish and dynamic. The front is dominated by the signature hexagonal grille flanked by the swept-back headlights. A horizontal line divides the lower half of the bumper and splits the fog lamps and daylight running lights. A sharply rising window line at the rear is prominent on the side profile. The Tucson sits on 18" 225/55 tyres and is 172 mm off the ground. The rear is clean and simple, with the tailgate flanked by slim LED lights. Overall, the styling will definitely be a plus for those who want an urban SUV.
What’s it like on the inside?
On the inside, the Tucson looks more Creta than Santa Fe. The Creta’s cabin is a good place to begin with but upgraders will expect something more and distinct. There is a two-tone black and beige dash with a distinct separation between the dual zone HVAC and the entertainment unit. Speaking of which is an 8-inch touchscreen like the one in the Elantra, with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Thankfully, there are also knobs and dials for a few of the functions. The dials are crisp to read and have a 4.2-inch colour screen between them for trip computer and other info. Below the HVAC are two power sockets and one USB slot, but in today's connected times, it should have been the other way around. Interestingly, the higher-spec car gets a slightly different centre console floorpan with an extra cubby hole and a larger central console box. The multi-function steering wheel is leather-wrapped as are the seats, armrests and transmission knob.
Interior space is generous and the legroom at the rear is very impressive. Furthermore the rear seat backs also recline, the only thing is that the rear seats are set quite low and thus with window line higher than usual your view outside is slightly reduced. The boot is large with 513 litres of storage. It can be accessed with the auto-opening feature ala Elantra, where it pops open if you stand near with the key on you. But just like the Elantra we had trouble getting this to work all the time. The boot can be extended with a 60:40 split rear seat.
The all-automatic cars have six airbags, with the manual one getting just two. ABS with EBD are standard and the top trim gets electronic stability control, hill start and brake assist along with downhill brake control. Parking sensors are present for the front and rear, along with a rear camera view.
What’s it like to drive?
Hyundai offers the Tucson with a choice of a petrol and a diesel, and both can be paired with a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. We drove the auto boxes of both engines. The petrol is the same 2.0-litre unit from the Elantra and makes 155hp at 6200 rpm and 192Nm of torque. While on the Elantra this engine feels very alive, on the Tucson the extra weight blunts the edge considerably. It's fine for daily driving, but you find the gearbox downshifting often in a bid to keep up performance. Even in Sport mode or with manual changes, the car's performance isn’t all that lively and sound levels do get high with the engine always sounding more enthusiastic than the performance it is delivering.
The diesel is a new engine in Hyundai’s stable and the R2.0L unit puts out a healthy 185hp at 4000rpm and 400Nm of torque. The engine is powerful with loads of torque right from the lower rev range and is refined too, with engine getting vocal in the higher revs. The transmission is smooth and quick to engage, but you do miss the paddle shifters. However, in Sport mode, the automatic transmission works just fine. The lovely wave of torque makes driving the Tucson effortless and the engine’s refined nature and suspension mask speed really well. You don’t realise how fast you are going. The diesel is clearly the one to pick over petrol for both its performance and efficiency.
The ride is very comfortable, but the handling doesnt give in to a very spirited driving. This is a car that does not like to be pushed hard, but can be driven briskly. The steering is well-weighted but with a slight vagueness around the straight-ahead position.
Should I buy one?
Hyundai has priced the Tucson very aggressively. The base petrol starts at Rs 18.99 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, and the higher GL trim is Rs 21.79 lakh. These are both lower than the Honda CRV which is around Rs 22.23 lakh. The diesel Tucson begins at Rs 21.59 lakh and the GL is at Rs 23.48 lakh. The top-trim GLS is at Rs 24.99 lakh and gets all the goodies such as ESC, powered tailgate, dual-barrel LED headlamps and the larger 18-inch alloys.
The Tucson is a smart-looking SUV with good equipment levels. The space inside is quite generous too, as is the quality. The handling is not sharp and incisive, but it has been sprung more on the softer side for better comfort. Hyundai has priced the Tucson very competitively. There is the Honda CR-V for rival, but that is only sold in petrol and priced higher. On price, there is also the new Fortuner and the Endeavour, but they're different SUVs -- big, conventional-looking, body-on-frame vehicles with seven seats and four-wheel drive. The Tucson is a soft-roader with a monocoque construction, five seats and 2WD (for now, a 4WD is due early next year). There are more such SUVs on the way such as the VW Tiguan and Jeep Compass, but they are only for later next year and, remember, not from brands as established as Hyundai in India. So, if you’re looking for a modern SUV perfect for the city and the odd weekend getaway, the Tucson fits the bill perfectly.