The striking all-new fourth-generation Tucson is one of the new car revelations of 2021. Hyundai dares to be different and few SUVs can match the Tucson’s kerb appeal.
Featuring unique “hidden lights” and “jewel-like” running lights, plus an athletic profile and pert rear, it’s equally impressive inside.
Available with a conventional petrol engine, or as a self-charging hybrid, plug-in hybrid or mild hybrid, the Tucson is priced from £28,100 to £41,975.
We tested the self-charging hybrid (listed as the Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDi 230ps Hybrid) in top spec Ultimate trim. Priced at £37,135, it came with a six-speed automatic gearbox and a Tech Pack, including Electronic Control Suspension, Around View Monitor, Blind Spot View Monitor and Remote Smart Park Assist.
The beauty of the hybrid power unit is that it gives increased performance and reduced emissions without the need to plug in.
Combining the instant torque of a 44.2kW electric motor with the output of a four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo, the 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery can be charged on the move via regenerative braking during downhill stretches of road and braking.
Most impressively of all, the hybrid powertrain switches seamlessly between the petrol engine and electric motor – sometimes utilising both at the same time.
Take a glance at the dashboard and the little ‘EV’ light flashes up for significant amounts of time, especially when cruising, which is particularly satisfying.
Like all self-charging hybrids, the battery is big enough for short bursts of fully electric driving in stop-start traffic, along with silent parking manoeuvres.
You can also select drive modes. The default Eco is fine for everyday driving, while Sport adds an extra level of response and control for more challenging country roads.
The total petrol/electric power output of 227bhp, with 195lb ft of torque, is ample, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds and a top speed of 120mph.
CO2 emissions are as low as 131g/km, while fuel economy is officially up to 49.6mpg. You can get close to that figure when cruising, but 40-45mpg is a more realistic figure in everyday driving.
The self-charging hybrid is front-wheel drive (you’ll have to opt for the plug-in hybrid if you want 4×4) and doesn’t feel any the less for it.
There’s a surprising amount of grip up front, decent traction and it feels agile when pushed, even if the engine is slightly more vocal. Add light, accurate steering and decent body control, and it’s a great all-rounder.
So, the Tucson is the business on the road, and the good news is that it’s no less impressive inside the cabin.
Generously equipped, just about all physical knobs and buttons have been eliminated in the cool interior which is dominated by a 10.25-inch infotainment screen in the sleek centre console and a driver’s digital instrument cluster the same size.
There’s plenty of space in the rear for tall adults to travel comfortably, while the boot capacity is a healthy 616 litres, expanding to 1,795 litres with the rear seats folded.
Build quality is superb and goodies such as electrically operated, heated and ventilated front seats, plus a KRELL premium audio give it an upmarket feel.
The Tucson scored a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP testing and is packed with safety kit, including a Blind Spot View Monitor. Simply activate the indicator and you can see a live camera view of the left or right-hand side of the car on a screen in the digital cluster.
There’s also Highway Drive Assist – a semi-autonomous system which combines lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, map data and sensors to deliver speed and steering adjustments when driving on the motorway.
For novelty value, go to Media on the infotainment screen, activate the ‘Sounds of Nature’ and choose a relaxing ambient background soundtrack. Options include Calm Sea Waves, Lively Forest, Warm Fireplace, Rainy Day and Open-Air Cafe.
Verdict: Hyundai is knocking on the door of some premium rivals with the dramatic all-new Tucson Hybrid. Safe, spacious, well equipped, refined and engaging to drive, it’s a superb SUV package and a real step-up from its predecessor. Add Hyundai’s generous five-year warranty and it’s a tempting proposition.