Tucson nameplate returns to Hyundai lineup
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COWBOYS INSPIRE RANGE OF VEHICLES THAT IS ALL HAT - AND CATTLE AS WELL
Someone at Hyundai must like cowboys. Nothing wrong with that, cowboys are cool. But, seriously, someone at Hyundai must really like them.
Why else would they have chosen to name their SUVs Santa Fe and Tucson after towns in the cowboy states Arizona and New Mexico?
Wait, you say, Tucson? Isn’t the small Hyundai SUV now called the ix35?
Nice spotting, pardner, but no. The ix35 name is a thing of the past and the Tucson handle is back.
Which is a good thing, because I always felt “ix35” sounded borrowed from something that crashed at Roswell, which is not too far from Tucson, and it also looked like something that had fallen from space and landed badly.
Hyundai is offering a range of styles and engines.
The Tucson carries strikingly handsome new looks that owe a lot to the larger Santa Fe.
It has also moved closer to the Santa Fe in another way — size. The Tucson now technically enters the medium SUV segment thanks to a modest increase of 65mm in length and 30mm in width. This is accompanied by a 30mm increase in wheelbase.
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This may not seem like a lot — and it isn’t — but the ix35 was always one of the largest of the “small” SUV’s, so a few millimetres is all it took to make more sense.
The Tucson has the engines to back up its change of segment. With a choice of three engines, three transmissions and three models, it also straddles the difficult span from base-model company car special up to fully stocked neighbour taunter.
The star of the engine show, however, is the punchy little 1.6-litre inline 4-cylinder petrol turbo engine that packs 130kW and 265Nm.
The 2-litre petrol engine comes with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic, and the diesel is available only with the auto. The 1.6 turbo comes attached to Hyundai’s new seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
The entry-level car is available in FWD form with the 2-litre petrol engine and a choice of manual or auto transmissions, while in AWD form it can be had with either the 1.6-litre turbo or the 2-litre diesel with their respective automatic transmissions.
The Elite model is next in the range and, it too, is available in either FWD or AWD form. The 2-litre petrol engine does the power-plant duties in the FWD version, but only with the six-speed auto transmission, and the AWD Elite also gets a choice of the 1.6 petrol turbo or the diesel.
Of course this spread of engines and models also sees a fairly impressive spread in price, with the base FWD 2-litre petrol manual starting at $39,990 and the top-spec Elite Limited AWD 2-litre diesel auto topping the range at a fairly hefty $63,990.
This sizeable price tag is, admittedly, accompanied by heavy-hitting technology, with the likes of lane assist and departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, blind spot detection, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert all coming on the Elite Limited.
One thing that the Elite Limited doesn’t get, however, is Hyundai’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems. The Tucson will be the first car in the local market to offer the new phone integration systems, with CarPlay being in all new Tucsons now. The Android equivalent becomes available early next year and is merely a software update away for existing owners.
Both systems work in a similar way. A smartphone is plugged into the system and can then be controlled either by voice commands or the car’s touchscreen, integrating the phone’s operation seamlessly into that of the car’s.
The Elite Limited, on the other hand, is expected to be bought by, shall we say, “older” customers who won’t be quite so impressed by such technology, so sticks with a traditional integrated sat-nav unit powered by SUNA maps.
Overall the new Tucson is an impressive entrant into the medium SUV segment — it has a class-leading ride and is impressively quiet.
The engines (particularly the diesel and 1.6 turbo) are strong and frugal — but there are a few missteps.
The interior, although nicely laid out is fine for the lower-spec cars, but comes across as way too plasticky for something costing the thick end of $60,000, and the driver assists, particularly the steering assist, are way too intrusive and insistent.
Other than those minor gripes, the Tucson is a seriously good SUV and one well worthy of riding off into the sunset in.
And other cowboy things like that ...