HYUNDAI TUSCON AWD
Does four-wheel drive enhance the appeal of the range topping Hyundai, now that the Santa Fe is out of production in India
AS YOU WILL HAVE INFERRED from our long term test reports, the Tucson is one of the more popular SUVs in our fleet. It deserves to sell in stronger numbers than it currently does and to give it a boost, it now gets the option of all-wheel drive.
As with the regular front-wheel drive Tucsons, the engine makes 185bhp and 400Nm of torque; there is no change in the output. But now, thanks to the 4WD, it does a much better job of putting its power down. Where the steering would squirm and front wheels spin up under hard initial acceleration on less-than-grippy tarmac, resulting in the ESC cutting in, the 4WD Tucson accelerates without any drama. The improved traction on the 4WD Tucson becomes even more apparent on gravel tracks. This is probably the one area that we found our long term test Tucson lacking. On the last climb up to our farm house, the Tucson needed a good run up to build momentum lest it spin the front tyres and send a dust cloud towards the house. This 4WD Tucson does the climb without any drama and that makes it feel more like an SUV.
The 4WD is an on-demand system that is natively front-wheel drive and sends drive to the rear wheels only when it detects slip; technically it is an all-wheel drive system. For slippery surfaces it also gets a 4WD lock that splits the power 50-50 front to rear so there’s no delay. There is also hill descent control if you’re really thinking of going off-road though truth be told, this is an SUV that works best on the road where the stable handling and polished road manners will be appreciated. Speaking of hill descent, the lower GL-spec Tucsons, in addition to Downhill Brake Control (DBC), now also get Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM).
On the road there really isn’t much to differentiate the 4WD Tucson from the FWD save the better traction when accelerating with vigour from traffic lights or toll booths, especially in Sport mode. What we did notice was the brakes now have better feel and aren’t as spongy on the Tucsons we have driven in the past and that is a welcome improvement. The handling remains safe and reassuring with good body control, not a great deal of body roll and a lifeless steering.
On the styling front there is nothing to differentiate the 4WD Tucson apart from the badging on the (electrically operated) tailgate and that, we feel, is a miss. After all, if you’re paying more for the 4WD variant (`48,000) you want your SUV to scream it. It doesn’t get any extra kit either, not even a sunroof which we all expected the range-topper to get.
At `25.19 lakh ex-showroom the 4WD Tucson slots between the Compass and Tiguan and is only available in the top-spec GLS trim with the diesel-automatic. It’s a price that knocks on the doors of premium German brands and that, in the main, is why you don’t see too many Tucsons on the road. As for ability and capability the Tucson, now with the addition of 4WD, is an even better package and prospective buyers would be doing themselves a major disservice if this SUV isn’t at the top of their consideration list. ⌧