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19th of July 2018

Automotive



New Hyundai Tucson 2018 review

The new Santa Fe and Kona Electric are both of massive importance for Hyundai, but the company’s SUV breadwinner is the Tucson. Over 600,000 were sold globally last year – and Europe is its biggest market.

Though the third-generation Tucson has only been around for three years, Hyundai has already gone back to the drawing board with its SEAT Ateca adversary. This facelift lands to freshen up the last of the company’s three SUVs – and it’s a fairly substantial update, too.

• Best SUVs on sale 2018

Design changes are headlined with the addition of a new grille, aping the new Santa Fe with Hyundai’s latest ‘cascading’ profile. New LED head and taillight signatures appear, while both the front and rear bumpers have been given a minor rethink. Finally, the new car rides on fresh alloy wheel designs, ranging from 16-inch on basic versions, to 19-inch on the Premium SE model driven here.

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But the most eye-catching changes come inside. Hyundai has thoroughly revised the Tucson’s dashboard with a brand new look and feel. A whole new upper dashboard means that the tall, button heavy stack and central screen has been removed. Instead, the cleaner design now uses a floating display.

Overall, the driving environment feels much more modern than before. It feels well built alongside any of its Volkswagen Group rivals, with all the harsher plastics and materials tucked away where hands won’t really find them. It still feels like a functional rather than funky place to sit, and 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 in this refreshed Tucson, with the arrival of a 2.0-litre 48-volt mild hybrid diesel version for the first time. This unit sits above all-new 1.6-litre diesel models, as well as tweaked petrols, too. For now, you’ll only be able to choose the 48v powertrain on high-spec 2.0 Premium and Premium SE cars; the same tech will arrive on the 1.6 diesel in 2019.

But unlike many other 48v systems, Hyundai’s set-up doesn’t enable total engine cut-off for fuel-free miles. Instead, the system is there purely to support the diesel engine, providing an additional 16bhp when necessary. Under light acceleration it reduces engine 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 a lower loads means that this new 2.0-litre diesel unit is quiet, near enough muting that trademark diesel rattle when pottering around at town speeds. Performance could be a bit better though – the extra weight of the system and the standard all-wheel-drive makes the Tucson a heavier car, so it feels a little slower than the 182bhp output would suggest.

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Efficiency gains aren’t earth shattering either. Hyundai suggests the 48v system will return a seven per cent fuel economy benefit, and though the 49.6mpg claim means it shouldn’t be too thirsty, CO2 emissions (151g/km) are a little steep. It means that this car just strays into the £515 first year VED tax band.

Regular front-wheel-drive Tucsons boast an impressive 513-litre boot. All-wheel-drive cars are penalised here a little, and the 48v car even more so. But with 459 litres on offer, it’s still a usable size.

The equipment list looks healthy across the line-up, too. All but the entry-level Tucson will get the larger eight-inch touchscreen display complete with navigation, while the range topping Premium SE is stocked with almost everything. At nearly £35,000, this mild hybrid version is a very expensive option, however.

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