Hyundai Tucson SUV - Engines, drive & performance
Taut handling and a powerful petrol hybrid move the game on for the Tucson
- Bold looks
- Smart interior
- Good to drive
- Price increase
- Slightly firm ride
- Boot size varies
While the Tucson has never been considered class-leading for the way it drives, the 2015 model represented a big step forwards from the Hyundai ix35 that preceded it. And so it is again here - Hyundai has clearly learnt what its customers want and tried hard to deliver it.
The Korean brand has a development team based at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, and countless hours of driving on European roads, and the famously tortuous Nordschleife track, has clearly done the Tucson no harm at all. Unlike most SUVs, there's feel in the steering as well as accuracy, and the Tucson feels keen to turn, with very little body lean. It may not be quite as involving as the Ford Kuga but it's more agile than the Toyota RAV4.
Hyundai Tucson hybrid engines
We’ve already been able to try the Tucson Hybrid, with a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine and 59bhp electric motor giving a combined 227bhp. A six-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive get the SUV from 0-62mph in a respectable eight seconds, and on to a top speed of 120mph.
Summon its maximum power with your right foot and there's a decent surge of acceleration. Perhaps more unexpectedly, there's also a fairly sporty engine note, which hints that Hyundai's N performance engineers have had some input. Drive more sensibly and the Tucson Hybrid's powertrain is remarkably hushed, meaning you often have to refer to the on-screen display to see which power source is in use.
The transition between petrol and electric power is very smooth, and while it can be difficult to keep the Tucson Hybrid in its EV mode when pulling away, the dashboard indicator often shows you’re in it while cruising along. There are only two driving modes; Eco is the default, while Sport turns the gauges red and increases throttle response and the assistance of the electric motor. However, the petrol engine also works harder to increase performance.
It's clear Hyundai isn't expecting as many diesel buyers this time round because along with the Hybrid there's a range of three 1.6-litre petrol engines. The entry version has 148bhp, front-wheel drive and an ordinary six-speed manual gearbox. If your budget allows, the mild-hybrid version will be cheaper to run and should feel a touch more sprightly under acceleration thanks to the electric assistance. It can be fitted with either the aforementioned six-speed manual IMT gearbox or a seven-speed automatic and it's two-wheel drive.
The range-topping regular petrol has power bumped up to 178bhp and either the IMT manual with two-wheel drive or a seven-speed automatic and four-wheel drive.
If you spend lots of time on the motorway, or like the low-down pulling power of diesel engines, the 1.6-litre CRDi engine may well appeal. It only gets 134bhp though, so performance is likely to be satisfactory rather than scintillating. With fuel economy a firm priority, a six-speed manual gearbox and front-wheel drive is the only setup offered here.