Take the vehicle that I recently drove, the new Hyundai Tucson, as an example. It comes in to replace the ix35, which previously replaced the first Tucson. Confused? Well management at Hyundai insisted that the new ix35 should rather be named the Tucson again so here we are, an all-new car, which is really rather good.
Starting with the looks, Hyundai has nailed it! This looks like a big imposing SUV with a large front grille, lashings of chrome, a sweeping side profile with a rising belt line and a layered rear-end, making it one of the best looking cars in its segment. Inside, the Tucson also impresses with a modern facia, great quality materials and as with many Korean cars, a decent level of kit as standard. Expect features such as a rear-view camera in the rear-view mirror, multi-function steering wheel,Bluetooth, USB, AUX, iPod connectivity, leather seats and cruise control to mention a few.
The one problem that I have with the interior is the infotainment system. Now I know that some may prefer the basic setup but when all the competitor products feature large touchscreen systems, one would assume that Hyundai would offer this as standard. A large screen can be specified at an additional cost but when one considers that my test unit was already R419 900 I feel that the touchscreen system should be standard.
Under the bonnet of my test unit was a re-worked version of the 1.6-litre turbo engine that we saw make its début in the rather disappointing Veloster Turbo. The engine works so much better in this SUV application, with 130kW/265Nm providing more than enough in the way of overtaking ability and straight line grunt. It will get you to 100km/h in 9.2 seconds and nudge past 200km/h - not that anyone who buys one will be particularly interested in that.
I must admit that it wasn’t the most economical of engines though; with a consumption figure north of 10.0 litres/100km, while the claimed figure is 8.3 litres/100km. Thankfully my test unit was equipped with the manual gearbox because, if memory serves, the automatic variant wasn’t the fastest dual-clutch unit around when I drove it at launch.
One area where the Tucson shines is in the practicality department; it features a 488-litre boot which extends to 1 478 when the rear seats are folded while it also offers 1 900kg of braked towing capacity, which means that it beats out key rivals from Ford, Chevrolet, Renault and Nissan on that front. The rear occupant space is also commendable. I had the boot packed with a shoddy lawnmower and had two passengers remark on how much leg room they had while they reclined their back seats.
The Tucson has taken Hyundai right back into the limelight with regards to the SUV segment. It looks and feels the part while providing real-world practicality and comfort. Aside from slightly high pricing, the infotainment system not being up to scratch and the turbo petrol motor being a bit thirsty, it ticks all the right boxes and should certainly be on your shopping list if you’re looking for a vehicle in this segment.