And updated version of Koreans’ smaller crossover driven, too
AS well as introducing an all-new Santa Fe (Page 36), Hyundai has tweaked its big-selling Tucson SUV. Over 600,000 examples were sold globally last year, and Europe is its biggest market.
Design changes are headlined by a new grille, which follows the Santa Fe by using Hyundai’s latest ‘cascading’ profile. New LED headlights and taillamps appear, while the bumpers have been given a minor rethink. The latest car rides on new-look wheels, too.
But the most eye-catching changes come inside. Hyundai has thoroughly revised the Tucson’s dashboard with a brand-new look. A whole new upper dash means that the tall, button-heavy central stack and touchscreen have been removed. Instead, the cleaner design now uses a floating display.
Overall, the driving environment feels much more modern. It appears nicely built alongside its VW Group rivals, with all the harsher plastics and materials tucked away where hands won’t find them. It still feels like a functional rather than funky place to sit, but that doesn’t detract from the fact this is still a roomy SUV, both in the front and in the back.
New engines also play a key role, with the arrival of a fresh 1.6 diesel and a 2.0-litre 48-volt mild hybrid. For now, you’ll only be able to choose this system on high-spec 2.0 diesel Premium and Premium SE cars; the same tech will arrive on the new 1.6 CRDI in 2019.
But unlike many other 48V systems, Hyundai’s doesn’t enable total engine cut-off for fuel-free miles. Instead, it’s there purely to support the diesel engine, providing an additional 16bhp when needed. Under light acceleration it reduces load to save fuel, while flooring the throttle sees the 0.44kwh battery pack emptied for extra performance. Slowing the car recuperates energy to recharge the small battery.
Allowing the engine to run at lower loads means that this new unit is quiet, near enough muting that trademark diesel rattle when driving around town. Performance could be better, though; the batteries make the Tucson heavier, so it feels slower than the numbers suggest.
Efficiency gains aren’t stunning, either. Hyundai suggests the 48V system will return a seven-per-cent fuel economy gain, and although the claimed 49.6mpg means it shouldn’t be too thirsty, CO2 emissions of 151g/km are a little steep.