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Hyundai Tucson

Hyundai Tucson

They say America, England and Australia are three countries divided by a common language, namely English. All of their inhabitants claim to speak English, but as we have all come to realize they sure don’t sound the same. When Hyundai launched its first iteration of the Tucson in 2004 in the city of Tucson in the state of Arizona USA and named it after the city with a clear pronouncement that it was a model designed and developed in Tucson and targeting the American market, it was christened and pronounced Tucson (too-sawn or tu-sawn). However as the name of the city in Spanish was pronounced Tukson (as in tuck-shop), in some parts of the world, it is referred to as the Tukson and yet here in Sri Lanka after a decade of its launch, some still refer to it as the Tuksun (as in Tuk Tuks  that quite literally dominate our lives here).

 

So whichever way you wish to call it, the third generation version of the Tucson is here and despite its name, there is no mistaking this for anything else other than a very smart looking SUV from the world’s fourth largest automaker, from Korea, Hyundai.

 

INTRODUCTION AND FEATURES

With the proliferation of Europeans and particularly Germans into the management and the design and motorsport divisions of the Hyundai conglomerate, design of its cars have taken a quantum leap from what they were a decade ago.

 

The latest entrant is Luc Donckerwolke the head of design from British car maker Bentley who will take over the role of CEO and chief design officer from Peter Schreyer (EX Audi) the 64 year old current CEO when he retires in 2017. Chris Chapman is yet another designer lured from BMW and currently heads their USA design department - so is it any wonder that their cars look and perform the way they do? The new Tucson is a testament to this new design ethos and looks really powerful with very distinct body lines. The large corporate horizontally fluted hexagonal grille and the swept back narrow headlights and a high shoulder line all accentuate the looks of this attractive SUV.

 

The current version is 65 mm longer and 30mm wider than the previous iteration and it shows as there is a 30mm increase to the wheelbase as well. Whilst it does look larger than before, it is in no way bulky and has really elegant proportions and poise.

 

The version under test is the 4WD 2 litre diesel pumping a 178 PS@4000 RPM via its turbo charged common rail engine and transmitting its power via a six speed automatic transmission*(refer Tech Talk). The version on offer, again tailor made by the local agents to meet permit price points has a very large panoramic glass sun roof and perforated/plain combo leather electric seats, with a multi-function steering wheel and the other accustomed to electric accoutrements.

 

The 4WD system*(Refer Tech Talk) electronically controls the front and rear traction by distributing torque via an automatic torque vectoring system. The rear seats are adjustable and are a 40/60 split fold, but in the interest of occupant space the boot has shrunk to 513 litres from its previous 591 but can be expanded to 1478 litres when the rear seats are folded. The dashboard layout is identical to the new Sonata with the central aircon vents having been flipped over, narrow at the bottom and broader at the top. Another great design and ergonomic feature is that the angle of vision between the instrument cluster and the road ahead has been kept at 22 degrees to keep eye movement to a minimum. The SUV runs on 225/55 x 18 Nexen low resistance rubbers, (which are now gaining in popularity locally), fitted to a set of tasty alloys. As this is a global model various spec, engine and option levels are on offer for the different markets, so I guess it would be great to read about some of the niceties on offer elsewhere and be content with what’s on offer here. After all you only get what you pay for.

 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The interior is very spacious and seems to be from a class higher with plenty of leg and head room and the seats are very supportive and comfortable. The push start button is deleted for this spec and instead one has to twist the blade key on the fob to start the car in the way most of us are accustomed to. Push start without a comfort entry is a useless extravagance with an added chore to perform of insert first and then press, as opposed to insert and twist in one motion.

 

With the glass sun roof cover moved back, the interior feels very bright and airy and the whole passenger area has a sense of class and quality, though some of the cheap hard plastics on door panels did seem at odds with the rest of the leather clad interior.  The engine idles very quietly for a diesel and the extensive use of noise cancelling materials and structural re-enforcements at key points can be really felt in the NVH stakes.

 

This version doesn’t have the electric parking brake, but the central tunnel handbrake makes a welcome return to provide us couch potatoes some bicep exercise, instead of that horrible foot brake that Hyundai persists with in some models and markets. The engine is very torquey and peppy to say the least, and just surges away with every input of your right foot.

 

The electrically assisted steering is great and I dare say feels even better than in some premium marques. The steering and front wheels and the suspension work in perfect harmony providing the right amount of tactile feel. The engine is very quiet and doesn’t feel strained even at higher revs and just sprints away in a surge of torque at all speeds and the gear box seems well spaced in its ratios and complements the engine characteristics very well. Occasionally on step down one notices a slight hesitancy and a pause to pick up pace, but it is not regular and could be due to the newness of the car, as I noticed that it performed better as it warmed up.

 

In addition to the default driving mode there is an Eco and sport mode. In Eco the engine feels muzzled and low on power as is to be expected and its best to use it if you are really feeling miserly and are on a leisurely drive to the supermarket. I would use sport as the default mode to get the best from the engine. However in this mode, the take from slow crawling to accelerative pace is not creamy smooth but is accompanied by a very slight jerkiness before gathering speed. Only very discerning owners may notice this trait and is really no cause for concern and in a way imparts a sense of earnestness to the gear box in this mode.  

 

On the whole, a great engine and gear box combination, and a real joy to drive. It would have been greatly enhanced if only Hyundai could have added a set of paddles, which for some inexplicable reason Hyundai seems reluctant to provide. I also had occasion to try out the hill descent control and it really maintains a steady pace going downhill, which is a boon as you don’t have to be applying progressive braking as the car gathers speed, although I did hear a slight clunking noise as the brakes were pulsating in its off/on phases. As to whether this was a trait in the test car or is generally associated with all cars I couldn’t tell, but takes away from the general refinement.

 

The suspension too is terrific and the damping over bad roads - which have now made a slow re-emergence with a fair share of “yahapalana” pot holes on offer - is really very very good. It has the right amount of suppleness to make it comfortable and adequate firmness to make it sporty as well. Sporty not as in a sports car, but certainly firm enough to make it enjoyable to drive briskly and tuck into corners.

 

The Tucson corners pretty well with a fair bit of body roll but tracks very positively. It rides over ripples and rumble strips with ease with nary a sound from the suspension or a thump from the tyres. The brakes are discs all round and I felt they could do with a bit more bite as the vehicle is quite substantial now and rapid too. Maybe the car was too new with a few KMS on the clock so with a bit of bedding-in I am sure they would perform as needed.

 

The sprint to 100kmh is quoted at a 8-8.4secs (depending on markets)  but the torque spread of the engine in the sweet spot between 1750-2750 rpm gives a placebo effect which makes one feel that it is certainly faster than the figures suggest. On the whole it is a delightful vehicle to drive and feels much smaller and surefooted than its size would suggest and one need not miss the pleasures of driving a car on account of SUV ownership.

 

LIVING WITH THE HYUNDAI TUCSON

It is a great family vehicle with an abundance of space for occupants. The seats all round are adjustable for occupant comfort. Storage and charging points and USB ports etc are all available, as a needed must, nowadays. With the added interior space, a notable omission is the provision of rear aircon vents which is a must in our hot conditions - but in mitigation Hyundai has provided a cooled glove box which becomes handy to carry some chilled rehydrating beverages.

 

The Audio system is pretty vibrant in its sound quality and offers Bluetooth as well. A minor irritant is the absence of a button or lever to fold the split fold rear seats from the boot area as one has to open the rear door and tilt the seats using the rear seat adjuster lever.

 

A really cool feature that I liked in the first generation Tucson was the dual opening facility of the rear boot with a possibility to open the rear glass without opening the entire boot lid to load parcels etc in low ceiling areas like some hotel basement car parks and some levels of the WTC covered park, and in some hospital parks. Alas this facility had to give way due to aerodynamics which dictated that the roof spoiler be mounted on the rear glass, hence you now get a few Km/litre more in the consumption stakes; but with the odd prospect of getting a ding on your boot lid. Though this spec doesn’t have the smart boot option of electric open/close, be mindful when you do pop it open in basement parks as the boot lid is pretty long and hence the edge almost extends beyond seven feet in height when fully opened. Also note that there is no solid rear parcel shelf, instead you do get a soft roller parcel cover, a half solid shelf  to keep light objects like hats, tissue boxes etc with a combined roller cover would have been more practical in use. I would have also preferred gas struts to assist in the bonnet opening as the bonnet is pretty heavy rather than the twiddly  bayonet type metal prop which seems out of date in such a modern car, maybe strut reliability weighed the decision in favour of the prop.

 

The rear camera feature with viewing via the rear view mirror is very neat and would endear to the ladies as you can reverse without twisting ones torso using the very accurate coloured guide lines. Another great feature is that when you do lock the car using the remote fob, the side mirrors retract so no worries about broken mirrors by careless pedestrians etc. So its indeed a mixed bag of goodies some sweet, some not so sweet and some sour but one could certainly cohabit with them all and have fun and enjoy.

 

It would be a great SUV to own and live with and would pamper and serve its occupants well, with its myriad features. Tail pipe lovers however would be disappointed as there are no visible polluter outlets at the rear.

 

OVERALL CONCLUSION

The Tucson is Euro-five compliant and has achieved a 5 star euro NCAP (new car assessment process) rating. It has dual airbags and a host of other safety features. 51% of the body is made of high tensile steel with rollover protection and renders the vehicle lighter and stronger. With its terrific five year/100,000km warranty, the Tucson offers a great ownership proposition with complete peace of mind.

 

With the current uncertainties prevailing on permits and also customs duties etc, a price comparison becomes irrelevant. However the stock units are priced at Rs 9.25 million which seems rather substantial for a mid-sized SUV and is even dearer than the higher segment SUV and its family sibling the Kia Sorento and other hybrid SUVs from Nissan and Honda etc. A cheaper 2WD variant is also available in limited numbers with a more Spartan spec.

 

The claimed combined consumption is a 6.6 litres per 100km, but the onboard computer gave a figure which was closer to double, possibly because all the running was in traffic congested Colombo with some performance driving added to that as well. A caveat for customers is not to read too much into manufacturer consumption claims as they are based on many parameters and conditions which have no bearing to real world driving. There is currently a big debate in the motoring world about this.

 

The default 18 inch alloy wheel is probably the best looking and also the best comfort compromise between 17 and 19. There is also a lovely palette of ten colours with one intriguing brown named “Milk Tea” which to my mind has no resemblance to any milk tea I know either in Sri Lanka or Korea.

 

If that Aussie stand-up comic Nazeem Hussain - born to Sri Lankan parents and famous for his Legally Brown TV series - who performed in Colombo recently; had anything to say about this, he would have said this is “not tea but Vegemite.” Humour aside the colour choice is great and I particularly like the Ara Blue. All hues of Blue seem to be the default colour of motoring fashionistas this year and the last Frankfurt Motor show was awash with Blue on all stands.

 

Hyundai has also taken great strides to reduce their carbon footprint and this diesel unit now produces only 175 gms/km of CO2, which is much less, than its petrol counterpart. So, green souls can console their consciences, in the knowledge that pachyderms will continue to roam the trails of Sinharaja. With a fascinating fresh look, rugged SUV style and bags of dynamic power, bordering on a great drive, Hyundai has certainly proven that it can live upto its motto of “New Thinking New Possibilities”

 

 

LIKES

GRIPES

 

 

  • * Torquey engine

  • * No strut assistance for bonnet

  • * Class leading interior space

  • * No  rear aircon vents

  • * Huge glass sunroof

  • * No rear parcel shelf

 

.

TECH TALK

Six speed automatic transmission

The Tucson uses an in-house gear box which is considered the most compact and light six speed box in production. It has 300 pending patents on it and it also boasts of fewer components than a five speed box and is claimed to aid in economy. It is a fully sealed maintenance free unit and contains many design features that aid in fuel consumption.

 

On demand 4 WD system

In normal mode the car will be front wheel driven with 100% of the torque applied to the front wheels for normal road use. In the eventuality that the front wheels start slipping or losing traction the system will revert to 4WD automatically with a 50/50 torque split between front and rear wheels. Depressing  the manual lock button under any condition will activate the 50/50 torque split, but the system will be engaged only up to a speed of 40kmh at which speed it will revert to FWD

 

Downhill Brake control Assist

On an incline the hill descent system will automatically brake the car permitting only a max descent speed of 8kmh.

 

MDPS-Motor driven power steering

The rack and pinion steering system is powered by an electric motor to reduce engine load and aid in fuel consumption and is activated only upon turning.

 

AMS-Alternator management system

The system switches the alternator off and disengages from the engine load each time the battery is fully charged, to minimise fuel consumption.

 

TECH SPECS - Manufacturer figures

 

MECHANICAL SPEC

ENGINE

1995 CC CRDI turbo diesel engine.  Max power 178 PS @ 4000 rpm     Max torque  41 kg.m @ 1750-2750 rpm

DRIVETRAIN

FWD  with on demand 4WD.

TRANSMISSION

6 Speed AUTOMATIC 

BRAKES

Front VENTILATED Discs  /  Rear solid Discs with ABS,

STEERING

Electrically assisted Rack & Pinion

 

 

WHEELS & TYRES

18” Alloys  225/55  x  18 Nexen  tyres   

 

 

SUSPENSION

Front mc person strut,coil springs.   Rear multi link gas shocks

 

 

CONSUMPTION LITRES/100KM

Average 6.6 litres/100km combined (manufacturer figure)   

 

 

 

DIMENSIONS

Length  4475 mm,  Width 1850mm,  Height  1655 mm,

CO2 175gms/km

 

 

WEIGHT

Not available

 

 

FUEL TANK CAPACITY

62 LITRES

 

 

PERFORMANCE

Not tested,  0-100 kmh  8-8.5 secs( Depending on markets)

 

 

MANUFACTURER

KIA  Motors South Korea