Hyundai Tucson 1,6 TGDI Elite 7DCT2
A slight facelift and range reshuffle keep the hugely popular Tucson in easy contention
JUMPING from the Creta into the Tucson, it’s soon clear where the money went. Apart from the fact that it is larger, the Tucson also feels more upmarket than the Creta. Hard plastics make way for soft-touch materials, while the turbopetrol engine connected to the quickshifting (a pleasant surprise in manual mode) dual-clutch transmission feels more modern in its operation than the older, free-breathing unit in the Creta.
On dirt roads, the Tucson furthermore exhibits better sound insulation and the chassis is more composed over the rough stuff at speed. While the Tucson is a comfortable cruiser, its lively 130 kw turbocharged mill also provides more than sufficient punch to overtake safely at motorway speeds.
The fully independent suspension at the rear of the Tucson is part of the reason it feels more “planted” than the Creta (which makes do with a torsion-beam arrangement). A spirited drive over Franschhoek Pass on the return journey shows there’s some driving fun to be had, if you keep in mind the limits of an SUV platform.
As with the Creta, the changes are mostly cosmetic and include new light clusters and bumpers, a new interpretation of the grille, as well as restyled exhaust outlets and updated wheel designs.
Inside, you’ll now find a freestanding infotainment display of the touchscreen variety. Still, some buyers may find the interior layout a bit busy compared with those from opposition vehicles such as the Volkswagen Tiguan.
The range has also been tweaked locally, with the flagship 1,6-litre Turbo Elite AWD and 1,7-litre CRDI Executive both falling away. This leaves the 2,0-litre naturally aspirated engine, the 2,0-litre turbodiesel and this 1,6-litre turbopetrol. All but the base model feature automatic transmissions (interestingly, the diesel powerplant gains a new eight-speed torqueconverter gearbox).
If you were a fan of the Sport model (complete with its aggressive styling package, quad pipes and a power upgrade), don’t fret; Hyundai has promised a new kit will be imported to fit the facelifted models early in 2019. The firm quickly sold out the previous allocation of 600 units.
The Tucson is a handsome vehicle that easily handles the overwhelming majority of family needs. It’s a pity the 1,7-litre turbodiesel powertrain is no more but the range now offers even more standard specification across the board. And don’t forget that Hyundai includes an impressive seven-year/200 000 km warranty for peace of mind on all its products.