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When it was originally launched in 2005, Hyundai’s Tucson caught the attention of local SUV buyers and became a market favourite. Now the nameplate has been resurrected. Reuben van Niekerk reports
The original Hyundai Tucson was replaced by the ix35 in 2009, the new model establishing real success with potential customers having to endure long waiting lists.
Sales momentum sustained throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle, the ix35 remaining convincing as a competitor that could hold its own against models from well-established Japanese and German brands.
Now, the Tucson name has been revived and with it comes a higher level of sophistication, quality and comfort aimed at ensuring that the remade model retains its status as a favourite among local buyers as it fights for a piece of the premium SUV pie.
The design concept incorporates a sleek, urban style combined with the strong ruggedness typical of an SUV. The front is dominated by a hexagonal grille, which connects with LED-styled headlamps to create a distinctive identity.
A wing-shaped horizontal bar on the front bumper, which incorporates daytime running lights, gives the car a unique character while providing a visual reference to the vehicle’s wide track. Along the sides, the directional shape of the wheel arches contributes to the model’s agile and dynamic appearance.
At the rear, the Tucson’s new personality is reinforced by strong horizontal lines that flow from the wheel arches. The combination lamps and reflectors are stretched to the edges of the body to further underline the bold proportions, while a rear skid plate and twin exhaust pipes add a sporty touch.
Inside, soft-touch, high quality materials have been introduced across cabin surfaces, creating a refined ambience. The new horizontal layout of the centre console helps to convey a sense of elegance while increasing the feeling of roominess. Front seats feature long seat cushions and, in Elite derivatives, are equipped with electric power adjustment.
The Tucson is built on a new platform that offers generous interior dimensions. There is an excellent exterior-to-interior dimension ratio, continuing the Hyundai tradition of highly efficient packaging. Luggage space – which measures 513 litres – can be almost tripled with the rear seats folded down.
Controls have been designed to facilitate intuitive operation. The centre console features a sound system with Bluetooth connectivity that enables music streaming or a mobile phone connection so that the devices can be controlled by buttons on the steering wheel. A navigation system is available as a R15 000 option for all derivatives.
Introduction of new technologies means the Tucson is comprehensively equipped with drive assistance packages, including a blind spot detector, vehicle stability management and a rear-cross traffic alert. Occupant safety is taken care of by six airbags.
Currently the range offers a choice of two, petrol-fuelled engines – a 1,6-litre, turbocharged plant that delivers 130kW and 265Nm which powers Elite versions, or a naturally aspirated, 2,0-litre unit for Premium derivatives that produces 115kW and 196Nm.
The entry-level Tucson 2,0 Nu Premium is equipped with the option of manual or automatic six-speed transmission, while the flagship 1,6 TGDi Elite gets seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive.
The seven-speed gearbox is a new addition to Hyundai’s SUV range and offers drivers the choice of fully automatic operation or sequential manual gear changes, selected via the gear-lever.
Two driving modes, Eco and Sport, are available. In Eco mode, gear shifts take place low in the rev range to aid fuel consumption, while in Sport mode they take place higher up the rev range and are faster, too.
The range topper’s all-wheel drive system is front biased, automatic transfer of up to 50% of propulsion forces to the rear taking place only when traction conditions demand it. For off-road work, a manually-selectable Lock Mode splits torque 50/50 to each axle at speeds lower than 40km/h.
The chassis of the Tucson has been developed with a focus on ride comfort without compromising driving dynamics, while newly designed rack-mounted, motor-driven power steering proves to be precise and direct.
Cornering performance has been enhanced through the addition of Advanced Traction Cornering Control, which combines the four-wheel-drive system’s variable torque distribution with ESC.
A 5-year/150 000km manufacturer warranty, enhanced by the ground breaking 7-year/200 000km drivetrain warranty, is a standard feature.
2,0 Nu Premium Manual R359 900
2,0 Nu Premium Auto R379 900
2,0 Nu Elite Auto R439 900
1,6 TGDi Executive Manual R419 900
1,6 TGDi Elite DCT AWD R499 900