First Drive

First Drive: Hyundai Tucson

The story: The striking new crossover comes with a choice of petrol or hybrid power and claimed best-in-class safety
Key rival:Ford Kuga
On sale:Now

Hyundai has certainly gone down a route of much more than simple evolution with its new Tucson. It correctly portrays its all-new compact SUV as a “revolution” in design terms, with a unique front-end getting what the brand calls a “parametric jewel” effect that is replicated throughout the car’s styling.

The striking grille has 10 daytime running lights embedded into the jewel-effect nose, which gives it an unmistakable look. It works well, certainly more so than the overly sculpted sides of the Tucson, where the crescendo of crease lines has a little too much going on and it takes a second glance to be sure it’s by design rather than just dented.

First Drive- February 2021- Hyundai Tucson- Image 1The most efficient model in the range is the most expensive and most powerful, with the 230hp petrol-electric hybrid model emitting from 127g/km. By comparison, the 150hp mild-hybrid petrol emits 144g/km. The bulk of the range is front-wheel drive, with only the 150hp mild-hybrid powertrain available with four-wheel drive, and even then only in top-spec Ultimate trim.

Like the exterior design, the cabin is a fine example of how far Hyundai styling has come. Better still, it scores well for quality of switchgear and materials, even in this entry SE Connect of the three trim levels.

The hybrid system is evident as soon as you press the accelerator, kicking in instantly before being joined a fraction later by the petrol engine. Although fairly vocal under acceleration, the Tucson certainly feels rapid, but the ride is undeniably on the lumpy side.

First Drive- February 2021- Hyundai Tucson- Image 3Practicality is good, with a hefty 620 litres of boot space, although some of the cabin stowage could be better, especially the narrow door bins. That said, there is a handy nook beneath the 10.25-inch screen that controls the infotainment. A similarly sized display forms the instrument cluster.

As well as the good emissions, the Tucson also enjoys excellent residual values, helping to eat back into the price tag that, for the hybrid version, starts at more than £32,000 for this entry trim. There is also a plug-in hybrid model being added to the range during 2021.

paul barker

The verdict

Another impressive move by Hyundai, bringing head-turning styling, particularly at the front end, as well as efficiency and quality.