Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

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.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

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.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

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.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

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.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

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.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

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.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid review

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.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid Sounds of Nature app

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.

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Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus was a part-electrification pioneer when it launched the RX400h self-charging hybrid SUV way back in 2004.

However, it’s taken until now for the premium car maker to bring its first all-electric vehicle – the UX 300e – to market.

Consequently, it’s a little late to the party, joining the likes of the similarly sized Kia e-Niro, Hyundai Kona Electric and Peugeot e-2008, to name but a few.

Lexus UX 300e review

Starting at £41,745, the Lexus has an official range just shy of 200 miles (190-196 miles, depending on the wheel size) and looks much the same as its hybrid sibling (priced from £29,955).

“Compact, classy, comfortable and economical, it’s engaging to drive, distinctive and oozes badge appeal,” was our conclusion when we reviewed the regular UX (Urban Crossover) in 2019.

In fact, our only gripes were the CVT gearbox (short doses of uncomfortably high revs on hard acceleration) and the infotainment screen which is accessed via a fiddly touchpad down beside the gear selector.

Lexus UX 300e review

The infotainment system is much the same in the UX 300e, but going all electric means there’s no need for a CVT because it’s a one-speed like all EVs, so the new model is a smoother operator.

For now there’s just one power option and three trims levels. A 201bhp e-motor and 54.3kW battery pack combine to power the front wheels and it’s good for a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.5 seconds.

The UX 300e can be fully charged at home in just over eight hours or via a 50KW public charger (up to 80%) in as little as 50 minutes.

Lexus UX 300e review

Naturally, it’s also (modestly) charged on the move via regenerative braking (the levels are controlled via steering wheel paddle shifters) which converts much of the energy lost while decelerating back into stored energy in the car’s battery.

Talking of charge, we found the UX’s real world range to be closer to 170 miles, though this figure will always depend on driving style, terrain, whether you use items such as the heater and the outside temperature.

To look at, the sleek electric UX is definitely one of the most stylish compact SUVs available.

Lexus UX 300e review

In fact, it looks like no other car in its class with bold, sculpted lines, a full-width rear lightbar, roof spoiler and that unmistakable Lexus mesh front grille.

Slightly lower than most competitors and sporting a coupe-like profile, it’s full of innovative features including wheel arch mouldings which not only protect the bodywork, but also have a secondary aerodynamic function, just like the rear lights and the special alloy wheels.

Inside, it oozes class. There’s plenty of room up front, though it’s not as spacious in the rear as some rivals, no is there much space to stick your feet under the front seats, thanks to the batteries below.

Lexus UX 300e review

Luggage capacity is a useful 367 litres (more than the hybrid UX) expanding to 1,278 litres with the rear seats folded.

The cabin itself is stylish, beautifully finished and very Lexus with superb attention to detail. Up front it’s very driver-centric with the instrument panel, switchgear and infotainment screen subtly angled away from the passenger.

Despite its batteries, the UX 300e feels light on the road and even swifter than the official acceleration figures suggest. In fact, in the wet, the traction control system struggles to stop the front wheels spinning if you really go for it.

Lexus UX 300e review

There is a Sport mode, but the difference isn’t that dramatic, and while body control in faster corners is fairly good, the overwhelming sensation is one of comfort and refinement, which again, is very Lexus.

Like many electric cars, the brakes aren’t massively responsive, though the steering is light, making it easy to drive around town.

The 300e is packed with safety and driver assistance systems, and when the hybrid UX was tested by Euro NCAP in 2019 it achieved a maximum score of five stars.

Lexus UX 300e review

And for extra peace of mind, it comes with the standard Lexus three-year/60,000 mile manufacturer warranty for the car, plus an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

Perhaps the 300e’s biggest challenge is its price point and range. For instance, it costs significantly more than the e-Niro and Kona Electric (which both have a range closer to 300 miles) and is even nudging the bigger Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3.

Verdict: Refined, comfortable and offering a premium experience, the all-electric Lexus UX 300e is a class act. With a range best suited to urban ownership, it’s easy to drive and stands out from the crowd, but it’s also up against some serious competition.