Hyundai’s popular compact SUV is again wearing a Tucson badge. It is probably the best vehicle the Korean company has built to date.
Tucson, a city in the US state of Arizona, is an interesting place. On the one hand, it’s a modern and advanced metropolis that houses companies like Texas Instruments, IBM, Raytheon and Honeywell Aerospace. On the other, it is a desert town that’s close to the Mexican border. The Spanish influence on the city is clear. It’s the sort of place we all know from American car movies: a town where high school kids race hot rods on warm summer nights. Films like Rebel Without a Cause and American Graffiti could have been set here. When choosing a name for your compact SUV, Tucson is a pretty good one. It suggests an interesting combination of the old and the new, the city and the desert. Of course, we’re familiar with the name locally. Hyundai’s SUV was originally launched in South Africa as the Tucson, but for the previous generation it was renamed the ix35. Now it is once again the Tucson.
“A total of 22 716 Tucsons were sold in South Africa from 2005 to 2010, and the total sales for the ix35 from 2010 up to 2016 was 33 692. The overall total of 56 408 Tucson and ix35 sales is proof of the popularity of Hyundai’s SUV, and we are ready to fight for the top position in this very competitive market segment again with the new model,” said Stanley Anderson, marketing director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa, at the launch of the vehicle last year. “The Tucson model name has now been revived, and with it a new level of sophistication, quality and comfort in this compact SUV that will again make it a favourite among local buyers.” This statement has shown itself to be true. The Tucson has indeed become one of the top sellers in its segment. Why? Because it is an excellent SUV, as good as anything else on offer. With the Tucson, Hyundai has shown that it is capable of building a class-leading vehicle. The Korean manufacturer has evolved to the point where it can go toe to toe with manufacturers from all over the world.
The 1.6 TGDI Elite model that accompanied us on our trip is an impressive SUV. Dealing particularly well with the oxygen-starved Highveld and other high-lying and mountainous areas in South Africa, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers maximum power of 130kW at 5 500rpm, and its torque delivery peaks at 265Nm from 1 500 to 4 500rpm. The engine is offered with a six-speed manual gearbox or the new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (7DCT), which gives a choice of fully automatic operation or manual gear changes. Fuel consumption is pegged at a frugal 8.5 litres per 100km. In the range-topping Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Elite, the 1.6-litre T-GDI petrol engine is mated to a 4WD system, which maintains traction on rough, loose or slippery surfaces while enhancing cornering performance. The front wheels receive 100% of torque during normal road driving, with up to 50% sent to the rear wheels automatically, depending on conditions. A manually selected ‘Lock Mode’ splits torque 50/50 for enhanced stability at speeds up to 40km/h.
The interior has been ergonomically designed to enable easy operation, and the instrument cluster has been positioned towards the windscreen for excellent visibility and minimum distraction. The A-pillar has been engineered to reduce blind-spot width by 6mm compared to the previous model, with visibility from the lower side window increased by 37mm. In the Elite derivatives, a panoramic sunroof adds to the airy feel. The centre console of the all-new Tucson has also been redesigned and features a sound system with Bluetooth connectivity than enables music to be streamed from a smartphone or iPod. Elite models are fitted with a large display screen for a new-generation navigation system. Overall, the Tucson is an excellent package that delivers great comfort and refinement. If you’re driving from Johannes-burg to Cape Town, it won’t easily disappoint.
Open-road rating 8 out of 10.
The good Great all-round package.
The bad On the pricey side.
Specifications – Hyundai Tucson 1.6 Tgdi Elite Awd Dct
Engine 1.6-Litre Turbo-Charged Petrol
Power 130kw @ 5 500r/Min
Torque 265nm @ 1 500r/Min
Transmission 7-Speed Dct Auto
4wd System Permanent Awd
Fuel Tank 62 Litres
Fuel Consumption 8.5 Litres Per 100km (Claimed)
Tyre Size 245/45 R19
Spare Yes (Full Size)
Luggage Space 513–1 503 Litres
Price R534 900