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.

Hyundai UK

BMW X2 PHEV review

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

It’s not the BMW X2’s fault, but not long before I tested out the new plug-in hybrid version of this distinctively-styled, low-slung crossover, I was driving the latest BMW 330e saloon.

Re-reading my review, I concluded: “Frankly, it’s hard to criticise the 330e because it’s an almost perfect embodiment of a PHEV.” No pressure, there then for the X2.

However, the reality is that the difference between these BMW siblings is night and day, which is disappointing because I have a soft spot for the X2 – a car that dares to be different.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

For starters, the 330e pairs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (181bhp) and an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, resulting in a combined output of 249bhp (or 289bhp for short bursts using the new ‘Xtraboost’ feature hidden in the Sport driving mode).

Opt for the rear-wheel drive model and the 0-62mph benchmark is reached in 6.1 seconds, while the xDrive four-wheel drive version is 0.2 seconds faster. Either way, top speed is 143mph and it has a pure electric range of up to 37 miles.

The X2 xDrive25e (yep, it’s a mouthful) isn’t far behind in the performance stakes, combining a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol turbo engine – also found in the MINI range – with an electric motor, producing 217bhp in total.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

Four-wheel drive (xDrive) is achieved via the combustion engine powering the front wheels and the electric motor, which sits on the rear axle, while 0-62mph takes 6.8 seconds and it has a top speed of 121mph.

So, on paper the X2 PHEV is no slouch. More importantly for most buyers, it’s especially appealing for company car drivers looking to make significant tax savings because its vital CO2 emissions are as low as 39g/km.

What’s more, it can run in 100% EV mode for up to 32 miles and it has a theoretical fuel economy of 166.2mpg.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

Sadly, the 330e also shows up the X2 PHEV’s deficiencies. Everything from the dated interior to the way it handles.

Let’s start with the dashboard and infotainment system, which looks old school by today’s standards. As the 330e illustrates, things have rapidly moved on, so the plethora of dials and buttons seems odd, as does the CD slot, while adding postcodes to the sat nav using a daisywheel function via the rotary selector dial next to the gear lever is almost 20th Century.

Oh, yes, and it has a long-throw auto gear selector with gaiter, unlike the latest BMWs which are blessed with a tactile, stubby shift knob. Add the analogue dials in the instrument binnacle and it’s almost retro.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

The X2 PHEV’s power delivery is punchy and it handles well enough – just not in the way we’ve come to expect from a BMW. Engineered more for comfort and economy than driver engagement, and not quite as refined as I would have hoped for, my week driving an X2 xDrive25e left me underwhelmed.

That said, as a sporty-looking, practical, eco crossover it makes absolute sense.

There’s room for five adults, and even though the battery eats into the X2’s boot capacity (reducing it from 470 to 410 litres), it’s still a useful space and it expands to 1,290 litres with the back seats flipped.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

And like all plug-in hybrids, if you keep the battery charged (it takes 3-5 hours) and if you have a modest daily commute, your visits to the service station will be few and far between.

Priced from £39,390, the BMW X2 is up against some strong competition in the SUV premium PHEV sector, including its “little” brother (the X1), the Volvo XC40, Range Rover Evoque and Audi Q3.

Verdict: Ultimately, the sporty-looking BMW X2 is a perfectly acceptable plug-in hybrid crossover, blessed with low running costs, top build quality and everyday practicality. Just don’t expect the ultimate driving machine.

BMW X2 xDrive25e plug-in hybrid review

How to prepare for the perfect family camping expedition

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto Blog

TV Adventurer and Toyota Highlander Hybrid driver Steve Backshall's camping tips

It’s a staycation summer, so TV adventurer Steve Backshall has teamed up with Toyota to provide some essential camping tips.

The author and wildlife expert uses his passion for nature to add a sense of adventure to holidays with his family – wife Helen, their three-year-old son, Logan, and 15-month-old twins, Kit and Willow.

““It’s all about Ps – prior planning and preparation prevents poor parenting performance,” reckons Steve.

However, he admits his first attempt at camping with three small children was a disorganised disaster: “It was all over the shop with kit, nappies and general carnage, but the sensation of waking up with my young son snoring next to me, the twins clambering all over my wife and the sound of breaking waves in our ears was unforgettable.

“The most important things you can pack are a sense of humour and a sense of perspective. The certainty is that discomfort is short-lived, but memories last forever.”

TV Adventurer and Toyota Highlander Hybrid driver Steve Backshall's camping tips

Steve’s trusted four-wheeled camping companion is the new seven-seat Highlander, the largest hybrid electric SUV model in the Toyota range.

After two years with a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the new vehicle is ideal for his growing family with its space for extra seats, luggage and kit.

Steve Backshall’s top tips for what to take on your family camping adventure

  • The tent: as soon as you start camping with babies, the amount of kit you have expands exponentially. It is essential to have a tent that packs small and light, goes up quickly, and has plenty of space. Critically, you want the tent to be big enough for the whole family to sleep together, while being sufficiently wind and weatherproof to avoid any nasty surprises in the middle of the night.
  • Nest is best: travel cots are bulky and heavy, and rarely that comfortable. Alternatives like a travel pod or nest, that can be folded down into a tiny backpack can create a handy crib. Stick it inside your tent or even alongside you at the beach for an instant infant safe sleep zone.
  • Comfortable camping seats: it says something about their relationship that this is the present Steve asked Helen to give him for Christmas – a comfortable and light camping seat that is packable. Steve claims he would sit in it at home in front of the telly if he could.
  • Licence to grill: Steve says before finding the perfect portable grille, cooking over an open fire was a lottery. Attempts using logs or bricks as supports would inevitably end up with burnt food spilling into the ashes. The one he uses is ready in seconds and turns the campfire into a stove. Always observe safety and etiquette when using an open fire in any outdoor setting.
  • “Off-road” buggy: a baby buggy can be the most expensive item you’ll need for a great family camping trip. It’s important to choose one that is good on rough terrain, that you can run with, and which gives the little ones a really good view. An unexpected advantage has been the seat on the back of the buggy, which Steve’s son loves riding on when he’s feeling lazy.
  • Carry packs: while the buggy is great, sometimes you want to cover some serious terrain on foot, and nothing on wheels will cut it. These packs are so well engineered that babies feel weightless. Steve has tested their quality on rocky paths and mountain routes.
  • Sun suits: Steve has three very fair children, so sun protection is vital. That means making sure sun hats are firmly in place and regularly applying high factor sun screen. Using sun suits means you can always spot where the kids are and they’re convenient because they dry out quickly
  • The car: Camping is not just about the end location, but the journey along the way, and keeping spirits high before reaching the campsite relies on a good choice of vehicle. Steve had a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid for two years and loved it because it was economical, quiet and spacious – everything you need for a stress-free drive to the campsite. It served faithfully as his adventure wagon, kids’ climbing frame and mobile base-camp, and it never let him down. His new Toyota Highlander has an extra row of rear seats, which means Steve can comfortably load up all the children, Helen and even her mum.
  • Buoyancy aid jackets: these are a must if the children are on or near water. They fit snugly and Steve makes sure all his youngsters wear them whenever they are close to water.

Check Also


Subaru Forester e-Boxer review

Subaru celebration as 20 millionth AWD drive vehicle is manufactured

Subaru has reached a major milestone with the total production of its All-Wheel Drive (AWD) …

Ford Puma ST review

Ford Puma ST

A little over a year since its launch, and the Ford Puma compact crossover has become a firm fixture in the Top 10 UK best-selling cars list.

Up until now it’s only been available with the excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine in various states of tune, but now there’s the sporty ST version.

Using the same 197bhp 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder unit as the Fiesta ST (but with torque boosted from 214lb ft to 236lb ft), Ford hopes it can work the same magic with this distinctive, slightly bigger, more practical car.

Ford Puma ST

At first glance, there’s not much to distinguish the ST from the smaller-engined ST-Line, apart from ST badging and a few subtle tweaks, including twin exhaust tips and new alloys.

This is probably the right decision because too many boy racer additions would limit its appeal. Plus, if you opt for Mean Green, you stand out quite enough, thank you very much.

Inside, the biggest difference is a pair of Recaro sports seats, a flat-bottomed ST steering wheel, plus ST-branded gear knob and door sill protectors.

Ford Puma ST

Elsewhere, the ST gets the same 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and 8.0-inch central infotainment screen as a high-spec regular Puma, with built-in sat-nav, Apple and Android smartphone mirroring and a wireless phone-charging pad.

The 456-litre boot is also carried over, along with the waterproof and drainable ‘Megabox’ underfloor storage area.

Some scoff at the Megabox because it’s just utilising the space where traditionally a full-sized spare wheel would be kept. This is true, but the extra storage makes a huge difference and the Puma really can swallow a surprising amount of luggage.

Ford Puma ST

Power is sent through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, resulting in a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds, a 137mph top speed, fuel economy of 40.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 155g/km CO2.

Other changes out of sight include a suspension that’s firmer and lower, plus uprated anti-roll bars.

Sounds good on paper, but how does it go, and is it worthy of the ST badge? Well, the standard Puma drives pretty much how you’d expect a crossover based on the acclaimed Fiesta to drive, which is no bad thing.

Ford Puma ST

The Puma ST takes it up a notch or two, blending impressive engine responsiveness with quick steering, powerful brakes and excellent body control.

Accelerate hard out of a bend and the traction is superb, thanks to an optional mechanical limited-slip differential (a rarity in this price range) and specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.

There’s no shortage of grunt from the engine, while the slick six-speed gearbox has a short shift action and the gear ratios are well chosen.

Ford Puma ST

Even the driving position, complemented by supportive Recaros, is near perfect.

Ok, it’s not quite as nimble as the smaller Fiesta ST, but Ford’s engineers have done a fantastic job crafting a compact crossover this engaging to drive.

There are four selectable driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Track), but with a ride that is on the firm side, Normal will do just fine for everyday driving and reserve Sport for fun on more challenging roads.

Ford Puma ST

Claimed fuel economy is pretty much on the money, though we managed to squeeze as much as a 45mpg out of it on a steady motorway run.

Competitively priced from £28,510, a Performance Pack (with goodies including a Mechanical Limited Slip Differential and Launch Control) is an extra £950, while the £600 Drive Assistance Pack adds nice-to-haves such as Adaptive Cruise Control and a rear-view camera.

Verdict: With its winning blend of dynamic drive, practicality and cool looks, the well-equipped, surprisingly spacious Puma ST sports crossover is a welcome addition to the Fast Ford family.

Suzuki Jimny LCV review

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

We get to grips with the new commercial version of the iconic Suzuki Jimny

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin with a back story to put the launch of the Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) into context.

The Suzuki Jimny has been with us since 1970 and some three million have found homes around the world.

During that time the dependable little 4×4 has developed a huge fanbase and is popular with both urban dwellers, country folk and serious off-roaders.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

The current fourth generation car was launched to widespread acclaim in 2018, winning the World Urban Car trophy at the prestigious 2019 World Car Awards, amongst others.

However, it was dropped from the UK market last year because of strict emissions legislation – a real shame for the Japanese car manufacturer because it was a huge hit, with demand outstripping supply.

Now, Suzuki has reintroduced the Jimny as a light commercial vehicle, with the original vehicle’s rear bench seat removed to provide a flat loading bay and an 863-litre boot capacity.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

Only available in “very limited numbers”, it will cost private customers £19,999, though some businesses will be able to pay £16,796 if they can reclaim the VAT.

The new Jimny “van” looks the same as the outgoing “passenger car” from the outside (cute and rufty tufty). Inside, the only other obvious clue that this is no ordinary Jimny is the black mesh cargo partition that prevents items flying into the front cabin.

There’s just one trim level available, so it’s not quite as well equipped as before. The dashboard and steering wheel are the same, but there’s no centre touchscreen this time round, for instance.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

There are a few goodies all the same, including air conditioning, DAB radio, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), 15-inch Black steel wheels and cruise control with speed limiter.

Overall, the no-fuss interior is practical with wipe-clean surfaces and suitably placed grab handles for those mini adventures.

Most importantly of all, it’s still equipped with ALLGRIP PRO selectable 4WD with low transfer gear, 3-link rigid axle suspension, hill hold and descent control – the ingredients that help give this lightweight SUV its legendary off-road ability.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

Powered by a punchy four cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine producing 101bhp, it comes with a five-speed manual gearbox. Fuel economy is up to 36.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are 173g/km.

Business users will need to know that it has a maximum payload and braked towing weight of 150kg and 1,300kg respectively.

We were treated to an exclusive first drive of the new Jimny off-road in deepest South Wales, though there was a little tarmac to sample its road-going manners, at an event to celebrate Suzuki’s rich and diverse history.

From its origins in textile manufacturing a century ago, Suzuki now sells 3.7 million cars and two million motorcycles every year, while its quad bikes and marine outboard engines are highly regarded globally.

How does it drive?

True to the 4×4 legend that the Jimny is, the LCV version is a real mountain goat of a vehicle, capable of reaching places other SUVs five times the price can only dream about.

Our Jimny coped effortlessly with steep inclines, thick mud tracks and water obstacles at the challenging Walters Arena vehicle development and test centre between Neath and Merthyr Tydfil.

It’s still not fast or a particularly sophisticated drive on the road, but there’s no denying its big personality and serious kerb appeal. In short, it’s one of those rare vehicles that puts a smile on your face the moment you set off.

Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV)

Of course, the Jimny LCV is not perfect. It’s cosy up front and the addition of the partition restricts rearward travel of the seats, making legroom a challenge for taller drivers.

Its modest 120kg maximum payload might be an issue if it’s used as a van, but perhaps the biggest problem is that it’s a strict two-seater, which cuts families out of the equation, for instance.

The reality is that with limited numbers available, the initial allocation of Jimny LCVs will be snapped up in no time, just like the passenger car version, with many finding their way onto the second-hand market at inflated prices.

Verdict: The two-seater Suzuki Jimny Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) is a dream come true for enthusiasts – and some of these “vans” may even have to earn their keep. Ultimately, it’s an affordable mini SUV that lives up to its superb off-road pedigree and can still put a smile on your face.