New Hyundai Tucson vs Peugeot 3008 vs Skoda Karoq
With some exterior styling tweaks and a revamped interior, can the facelifted Hyundai Tucson challenge the attractive Peugeot 3008 and our favourite sub-£30k family SUV, the Skoda Karoq?...
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 T-GDi 177 Premium
List price £27,745
Target Price £26,366
Hyundai’s best-selling car gets a comprehensive makeover for 2018.
Peugeot 3008 1.2 Puretech 130 GT Line
List price £27,180
Target Price £25,799
Not just a quirky choice, the 3008 is well equipped and the most frugal car here.
Skoda Karoq 1.5 TSI 150 SE L
List price £24,975
Target Price £23,394
Our favourite family SUV for less than £30,000 is an all-rounder that’ll be tough to beat.
It’s more difficult to stay on top than to get there. You’ve probably heard those words a million times. The phrase applies to everyone, from sports stars to musicians and, yes, car makers too. And, for Skoda, it applies specifically to the Karoq, our favourite sub-£30,000 family SUV.
Designed to take on the Nissan Qashqai, the Karoq arrived on the scene last year and fought its way straight to the top. It had a real challenge on its hands to replace the quirky but popular Yeti, but it’s been a resounding success, thanks to a practical interior, tidy driving dynamics and a generous equipment list.
When you’re at the top, there’s always something waiting to take you down. In this case, the threat has two prongs. The first comes from Hyundai; the Korean brand has renewed the Tucson, its bestselling model globally, by treating it to a midlife facelift. New LED headlights and tail-lights grace the exterior, while both front and rear bumpers and the front grille have been updated. The interior has been given an overhaul, too.
The Peugeot 3008 might also have something to say about the Karoq’s dominance, because while it isn’t new, you can now get a hefty discount on the list price of this desirable, practical car.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
Family SUVs looking to project an upmarket image need a bit of grunt, so we’re testing the most powerful petrol versions available with a manual gearbox (there’s a more powerful petrol variant of the 3008, but it comes exclusively with an automatic ’box).
At 1.6 litres, the Tucson’s four-cylinder engine is the biggest and most powerful here, pumping out 175bhp. The Karoq also has a four-cylinder engine, but it’s a 1.5-litre unit that produces 148bhp. It still looks pretty brawny next to the 3008, though; its 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine is designed to deliver good fuel economy and puts out a modest 129bhp.
As you’d expect, in a sprint away from the lights, the Tucson leaves the other two trailing; its engine pulls strongly from 1500rpm, after a small delay while you wait for the turbocharger to start working, and revs cleanly to its redline. That said, the Karoq manages to hang on to the Tucson’s coat-tails up to 40mph and its engine feels barely any less muscular at low to medium revs. You need to rev the 3008’s engine much harder to make swift progress, although it’s never frustratingly tardy.
What will annoy you about the 3008, though, is its vague gearbox and light, numb clutch pedal; they conspire to make the car difficult to drive smoothly around town. The Tucson is better in this respect, although its gearchange is a bit woolly, whereas the Karoq’s is tough to fault and it’s by far the easiest car to drive at low speeds.
Indeed, this Goldilocks theme permeates through most facets of the Karoq’s driving experience. For example, while the Tucson has overly heavy yet disappointingly vague steering and the 3008’s steering is accurate but too quick and light, the Karoq comes right down the middle; turn the wheel and you’ll find that the steering is nicely weighted at all speeds, with the option to add more heft for faster driving by switching to Sport mode.
Along country roads, you can confidently place the Karoq where you want it on the road. It sways the least and feels the most eager to change direction, too. The 3008 has plenty of grip but exhibits too much body roll, while the Tucson stays more upright but has the least grip, and its steering wheel kicks back in your hands as you approach the car’s limits.
Our SUVs are a closer match when it comes to refinement. The Tucson generates the most wind noise, the 3008 the most road noise and the Karoq the most engine noise; they registered similar decibel readings at both 30mph and 70mph in our tests. The Karoq is the most comfortable, though, coping with most types of bumps well. The 3008 isn’t far behind, even though it tends to trip over potholes, whereas the Tucson is firm and unsettled along roads that aren’t perfectly smooth.
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