First drive: 2016 Hyundai Tucson in the Canary Islands, Spain
We’re guessing this will probably be our most popular story for August. Did you know that the Hyundai Tucson is the highest-selling crossover in its segment in several countries, including the UAE? And to be honest, the outgoing version of the Tucson wasn’t particularly good to begin with, managing to outsell all its rivals simply by being cheap. But this new one is completely different from the ground up. And we went all the way to the Canary Islands to find that out.
Now sourced from the Czech Republic instead of Korea, the all-new 2016 Tucson is a little bit longer to better match up with cars such as the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, although still shorter than both of them. Oddly enough, the new Tucson actually has a longer wheelbase than either of them.
The well-styled Tucson looks premium on the outside, and now has a cabin that isn’t just made up of cheap hard plastics any more, with several dash and door surfaces now covered in firm soft-touch materials. Even the front A-pillars, driver’s knee bolster and the rear door-insides are padded, areas that several other carmakers skimp on.
It has decent space inside, with a much bigger boot than before. There’s also tons of optional tech equipment, with everything from a multimedia-nav touchscreen system to blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, aside from things like an electronic parking brake, front and rear parking sensors, a rear camera and a tailgate that opens just by standing in front of it. There’s also the requisite smart keyless start, panoramic sunroof and enough airbags to get a 5-star crash-test rating, but you’ll probably have to spring for the fully-loaded model to get all that.
We drove a loaded model, yet fitted with the base 2.0-litre engine. Mated to a 6-speed automatic and front-wheel-drive, it moved the car just fine in around-town driving with a well-programmed gearbox, while being expectedly slow when the go-pedal was floored, and even struggling a bit on winding uphill roads in the mountains, requiring you to keep up the momentum so you don’t have to keep hammering the engine.
The 2.0-litre will still be the engine of choice for most buyers in the GCC, but if you’re left wanting, there’s a 2.4-litre all-wheel-drive offering that will debut a bit later this year. The ideal motor would be Hyundai’s new turbocharged 1.6-litre with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, but our dealers are still deciding whether there’s enough demand to justify bringing it here.
We believe all Hyundais ride remarkably well, and the new Tucson is no exception. However, there is a marked difference in the way this new one handles, with limited body roll and good grip in moderate-speed driving compared to the awful old one. The wide tyres on our optional 19-inchers helped no doubt, but we didn’t push the car to its limits, so we can’t be sure if it’s a “sporty” crossover. The steering is accurate and well-weighted, but lacks feedback. The disc brakes are pretty good, never requiring intervention from ABS or ESP.
Hyundai demonstrated the Tucson’s offroad capabilities with some gravel-trail routes, with features such as a 50:50 power-split lock and hill-descent control on all-wheel-drive models. It seemed to do fine, and clearly, we’d recommend sticking to gravel trails rather than steep dunes.
Truth be told, we’re having a tough time finding flaws in the 2016 Tucson. For the daily drive, there’s nothing at all to complain about. With a justified price increase expected that will only be a bit higher than the outgoing model, we believe this new model will murder its rivals on the sales charts, more so than it already has been.
For updated prices and specs, visit the Hyundai Tucson buyer guide.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury & Hyundai.