The market for mid-sized SUVs is heating up. From various models being touted by European makers, Japanese makers and even American models, some might just overlook what the Koreans have made. Yes, I am talking about the Hyundai Tucson. I had the pleasure of driving both the Gamma 1.6 T-GDI (turbo petrol) and the R 2.0 CRDi Diesel models.
Let’s start first with the petrol model, sporting a turbocharged 1.6L engine mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the SUV has 177ps at 5,500 rpm with 265Nm of torque. This model is configured as a front wheel drive version. Gear shifts are silky smooth but thanks to its low torque, the car isn’t perky and getting off the line and trying to overtake takes a bit of a creative play of both the gearbox and accelerator pedal.
Compared with the diesel variant, I find the diesel variant to be a lot perkier due to its higher torque of 400Nm. This allowed the diesel variant of the Hyundai Tucson to even be quite quick up the hill as I brought a group of diesel enthusiasts up the old Ulu Yam route and the Hyundai Tucson led the pack throughout the entire way.
The power felt instantaneous and overtaking other vehicles was fairly effortless, even whilst climbing uphill. Even though the gearshifts are not as smooth on the diesel variant thanks to its standard automatic 6-speed gearbox, shifts are still quite responsive and accurate to accommodate the high amount of torque.
How it handles through the bends? Fairly well, it is no sports car but you need to embrace the dynamics of the car and allow the body to roll and not have any sudden jerk movements otherwise you can throw the car off balance. Thanks to its torque, managing the balance is easy as well as making full use of centrifugal force around the bends make the Hyundai Tucson a lot of fun.
Although the Tucson may sit higher than normal sedans, the overall suspension setup made the Tucson’s handling feel very familiar, as if you were driving a sedan car. The steering is precise and sharp with a little bit of weight on it which makes it feel confident especially at higher speeds.
On the interior that is where I find there is a lot that Hyundai can improve on. If I were to compare it against the Honda CRV, the Tucson has a lot of catching up to do. Firstly, the design seems outdated. The leather is nice but the models I drove had a black interior which made the entire look feel a little boring. There wasn’t enough accents or even some contrasts.
The console looked like it has a lot of features but the user experience (UX) had a lot wanting. It felt as if it had multiple operating systems running over because multiple menus kept popping up between the controls on the touchscreen and also the controls on the steering. Still, it has plenty of bells and whistles which was pretty amazing such as in-built Waze navigation and a reverse camera screen on the rear mirror.
When it comes to usability and practicality, the Hyundai Tucson is amazing. It has a large boot space, enough to fit a mountain bike with large 29″ wheels. Of course, I needed to fold down the rear seats but getting the bike inside was very easy. I like it that it had a nice rear tray made of a material which makes it easy to clean. Most of the time whenever I have an SUV to test drive, I am always trying to figure out how to not get the rear boot area dirty especially after a muddy ride.
Overall, I would definitely pick the Hyundai Tucson as a very practical and fun midsize SUV to own especially if it is the diesel variant. As much as there are downsides to it, the Hyundai Tucson offers a great ride comfort, a practical workhorse and a fun ride. The Hyundai Tucson Gamma 1.6 T-GDi starts from RM145,588 and the Hyundai Tucson R 2.0 CRDi starts from RM 155,788.