Hyundai Tucson SUV - Engines, drive & performance
Taut handling and a powerful petrol hybrid move the game on for the Tucson
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.
There’s a reasonable surge of acceleration when you press on the throttle hard enough and, perhaps slightly unexpectedly, a fairly sporty accompanying engine note. 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, although it can be difficult to keep the Tucson Hybrid in electric mode when pulling away, with the petrol engine eager to chime in. The transition between petrol and electric power is very smooth, although it can be difficult to keep the Tucson Hybrid in electric mode when pulling away, with the petrol engine eager to chime in. We did notice the automatic gearbox is keen to shift up early, which is no bad thing, as it helps keep the petrol engine quiet.
The quiet powertrain makes the car refined at motorway speeds, with the dial cluster indicator showing if you’re in EV mode, as well as telling you when you're recovering energy to the battery. 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.
The regular petrol range is based around a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, which is available with front and four-wheel drive. The majority of models get 48-volt mild-hybrid electrical assistance.
The entry-level model has 148bhp, front-wheel drive and an ordinary six-speed manual gearbox. If your budget allows, the mild-hybrid version should be slightly cheaper to run thanks to the electric assistance. When fitted with the six-speed manual IMT gearbox, 0-62mph takes 10.3 seconds, which is the same as without it.
The seven-speed automatic version combines the same 1.6-litre petrol engine with mild-hybrid assistance to get from 0-62mph in 9.6 seconds. The electrical assistance works seamlessly in the background; the stop and start of the engine is barely perceptible.
The steering feels light and accurate around town, making the car easy to manoeuvre at slower speeds. While the performance on offer isn’t groundbreaking, the car’s a competent cruiser on faster roads, helped by the smooth gear changes from the automatic gearbox.
For buyers that want more performance and improved traction, the range-topping petrol has 178bhp with a seven-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. It’s also fitted with mild-hybrid assistance tech, and is capable of 0-62mph in nine seconds, making it the quickest model in the regular Tucson lineup.
While a CRDi diesel engine was initially listed as an option when the new Tucson was announced, it was quickly withdrawn. According to Hyundai there are no plans for a diesel model in the UK.