Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
There aren’t any diesel engines for the Hyundai Tucson, just a range of 1.6-litre turbocharged petrols. The entry-level is the 148bhp 1.6 T-GDi 150, which comes with or without 48-volt mild hybrid technology (badged MHEV), which is designed to boost efficiency. With a manual gearbox, either version hits 0-62mph in 10.3sec, or slightly faster if you opt for the seven-speed dual-clutch auto ‘box. There’s also a 178bhp T-GDi 180 48 Volt MHEV version, which comes with the auto ‘box and four-wheel drive as standard. Officially it’ll hit 0-62mph in 9.0sec flat.
The top engine is a full hybrid, the 227bhp 1.6 T-GDi 230 Hybrid. So far, it’s the only one we’ve been able to try out. The battery is big enough for short bursts of leisurely electric driving in stop-start traffic, but doesn’t match the true electric range of a plug-in hybrid, like the Kia Niro PHEV, which will do around 30 miles.
With the petrol engine and electric motor combined it’s no slouch away from the lights and there’s plenty of useful pep for overtaking (0-62mph takes 8.0sec). There’s a small fly in the ointment, though: the six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is hesitant, taking a moment to decide on a gear when you kick it down.
Suspension and ride comfort
On the plus side, it rides over gentler undulations with reasonable aplomb and, overall, it’s not uncomfortable. To be fair, we’ve also only tried it on the biggest 19in wheels. Smaller wheels and plumper tyres tend to improve a car’s ride, so we’ll let you know if that’s the case here once we’ve tested different versions.
The light, quick steering creates an early sense that the Tucson will be a spry thing, but it’s not. When you’re driving sedately it flows along happily enough, but if you start pushing harder, the steering feels over eager and you find yourself turning in to corners too aggressively.
Then there’s the balance of the grip between the Tucson’s front and rear wheels, which isn’t as cohesive as it is in rivals like the Seat Ateca or Volkswagen Tiguan. They don’t lean as much, either, making them more stable, agile and engaging to drive spiritedly.
Noise and vibration
The Tucson’s pretty good in this respect. The capacity for the 1.6 T-GDi 230 Hybrid to run in electric mode makes it hushed in town, and also quiet when the petrol engine’s running, even when you really start ringing its neck. The automatic gearbox changes smoothly, too.
On the motorway there’s a fraction more wind noise than you get in an XC40 (mainly from the pillar by your ear), but it’s still relatively hushed and there’s not much road noise. Less favourable are the twangs from the suspension over expansion joints and the light buzz filtering up at times through the steering column.
Oh, and the Hybrid’s brakes are a bit fickle. Not with regards to stopping power – which is fine – but their progression. This capriciousness is down to the regenerative system, which feeds energy back to the battery as you slow down but makes the brake pedal less progressive. That said, we’ve driven hybrids with more abrupt brakes than this.
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