Hyundai Tucson gets dramatic new look

Korean brand renews its currently conservative best-seller with avant-garde styling

New Hyundai Tucson: dramatic redesign is most in evidence at the front

New Hyundai Tucson: dramatic redesign is most in evidence at the front

 

With Irish car buyers tending towards conservatism, it’s little wonder that the Hyundai Tucson became such a best-seller in this country. Plain in style and big on value, we have flocked to it in our thousands since it was launched in 2016, and it has rarely been outside the top two selling cars in the country.

Quite how those conservative car buyers are going to take to this new Tucson is anyone’s guess, but Hyundai is very definitely moving the Tucson from dull to dramatic.

That drama is most in evidence at the front, where Hyundai is debuting its new ‘parametric’ grille and lighting system. Parametrics is a form of mathematics, from which the lattice-like styling of the new Tucson’s grille is drawn. Those failing to notice headlights at the front just need to look closer - the lights are there, but concealed and hidden and only come to life, through a series of LEDs and mirrors, when switched on. Around the back of the new Tucson there are more parametric lights, and a full-width LED light bar across the boot.

Slashes and bulges

The new look, which includes prominent slashes and bulges along the sides (into which, somewhat jarringly, Hyundai has not blended the door handles) is called ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ which sounds like so much marketing puff. According to SangYup Lee, though, Hyundai’s head of global design, it makes for an “advanced, experimental design is true to its pioneering spirit and raises the game in the industry’s most competitive segment.”

New Hyundai Tucson: prominent slashes and bulges along the sides
New Hyundai Tucson: prominent slashes and bulges along the sides

New hybrids

While many may be alternately shocked or delighted by the Tucson’s sharp new suit, it’s underneath where the real changes can be found. There’s a new platform, which allows Hyundai to integrate electrical power into almost all of the engine options. In fact, there  are only two engines — a base 150hp 1.6-litre turbo petrol, and a 115hp 1.6 diesel — which come with no hybrid assistance at all.

There will be four mild-hybrid engines, using a 48-volt system and a compact 1.7KWh battery to provide electrical assistance, reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Three of these are petrol engines — the same 1.6-litre turbo unit with 150hp, 180hp, or a range-topping 230hp — while one is diesel — a 136hp 1.6-litre engine.

That 230hp range-topper is actually a hybrid (as distinct from a plug-in hybrid or mild-hybrid) and will give the Tucson a direct rival to the likes of Toyota’s RAV4. Hyundai Ireland expects that it will be the biggest selling model in our market. According to Hyundai, because the new Tucson hybrid offers high power and optional four-wheel drive, that means: “It offers low emissions without compromising on driving fun.”

Coming later in 2021 will be a plugin-hybrid model, based around the 1.6-litre petrol engine, boasting 265hp. Hyundai has not given any emissions nor consumption figures for the new engines. There will be the option of a conventional six-speed manual gearbox; Hyundai’s new ‘iMT’ manual gearbox with its electrically-controlled clutch (which allows such things as high-speed coasting and earlier activation of stop-start for the hybrid models); or a seven-speed dual clutch automatic.

New Hyundai Tucson: dramatic redesign is most in evidence at the front
New Hyundai Tucson: dramatic redesign is most in evidence at the front

The cabin has been arguably just as dramatically changed as the exterior. It’s dominated by a huge 10.25-inch central touchscreen which takes over pretty much all interior functions, from music and sat-nav to heating and air conditioning. That air conditioning blows through both conventional direct vents, and a new Tesla-like indirect vent system for when you want a little less breeziness. There’s a new digital instrument panel in front of the driver, and the cabin is roomier than before (thanks in part to a 10mm longer wheelbase) with a boot that, depending on the model, stretches to 620-litres of luggage space with the rear seats up.

Safety is high on Hyundai’s agenda too, with along list of assistance systems including active cruise control, lane keeping steering, collision avoidance braking, blind spot monitors (which actually use the parking cameras to show you your blind spot via the main touchscreen), and a system that warns if you’re about to open your door into oncoming traffic or cyclists.

Enticing

That big touchscreen also gets Hyundai’s Bluelink connectivity system, which does the usual live traffic, parking, and fuel prices as well as now including connectivity for both Apple and Google calendars, and a hand-off system for the sat-nav, which shares your route with your phone, so that you can park near your final destination and still find your way there.

New Hyundai Tucson: big touchscreen also gets Hyundai’s Bluelink connectivity system
New Hyundai Tucson: big touchscreen also gets Hyundai’s Bluelink connectivity system

Hyundai is also promising that the new Tucson will be more enticing to drive than the current model, thanks to suspension design influenced by the engineers at the ‘N’ motorsports division, and much testing on the infamous Nurburgring race track (which seems about as far away as you can get from most Irish Tucson drivers’ daily schlep, but still…).

No Irish prices nor specs as yet, but the new Tucson will be on sale across Europe before the end of this year.