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Gareth Butterfield tests the new Hyundai Tucson

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hyundai-all-new-tucson

IF you needed any convincing that Hyundai is stepping forth with a bold new design direction, then this, the new Tucson, should be all the proof you need.
The firm’s latest launches have seen some much-needed flair and excitement pumped into each bit of bodywork, and the line-up is swiftly becoming one of the most distinctive and daring in the industry.

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hyundai-tucson-named-car-of-the-year

In the world of SUVs, which the fourth generation Tucson has just stormed back into, striking design is becoming increasingly important. So this newcomer, which is distinctive almost to the point of unusual from pretty much every angle, could have a bright future ahead of it.
Take that grille, for example. With the lights on it’s nothing short of futuristic, with each segment of LED lighting echoing the unlit plastic accents that reflect natural light into all manner of shapes and patterns.

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hyundai-tucson-named-car-of-the-year

Its side profile is overlaid by an obvious curved roof, but with exaggerated haunches that cut ostentatious slashes into the lines, which hardly flow in a uniform fashion. It’s all very daring but, unlike most daring designs, it works. To some extent.
The rear end is quite a contrast to the front end, or the rest of the car, to be honest, and while that would normally sit uncomfortably with me, I quite like the mix of styles that goes on. I don’t even dislike the fact there’s a faint whiff of Ford Mustang about the taillights. Why not?

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hyundai-uk-all-new-tucson

Breaking from convention in exterior styling is often let down by a very conventional interior. But that’ not really the case here. There’s a very individually styled slab of gloss black plastic, touch-sensitive buttons and LED lights popping out at you as you settle in. I’m not sure I’m keen on it, it feels a bit early-2000s Bang&Olufsen-esque without the quality, but it’s certainly unusual.
There’s no gearstick, either. Just buttons, and the instrument binnacle is, predictably enough, just one big display.
It all feels nice though, so the quality is there, and so is the gadgetry. Everything from the usual suite of electronic aids, all the way up to a weird “ambient sound” feature in case you’d rather listen to a crackling fire or a busy cafe than Jeremy Vine. I know I would.

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hyundai-uk-all-new-tucson

Space is good in the front, and very generous in the rear, noticeably bigger than the previous Tucson, in fact, and the boot space is 600 litres extendable to 1,800 litres if you fold everything down. There’s also lots of cubbies and storage spaces dotted about. So it’s nice and practical.
This being a Hyundai, it’s priced quite keenly and, even in the lower-spec models there’s plenty of equipment chucked in. In basic trim, with a straight-forward petrol engine, it can be had for just over £28,000. Tick some more boxes and you’ll head north of £40,000 – but there’s lots of choice in between.

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hyundai-uk-all-new-tucson

Powertrain options currently include petrol power, hybrid, or plug-in hybrid, and it’s nice to see the latter two options don’t add too much of a premium. A nicely-specced hybrid version can be had for less than £35,000 for example, while plug-in hybrids slip in just below the £40,000 mark.
As a hybrid, which is what I’ve been testing, it drives very nicely. There’s no histrionics, no sharpness or uncomfortable damping, just a pleasant, nicely polished experience that’s as good as you’d hope for in any largeish SUV. No complaints.

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hyundai-uk-all-new-tucson

Running costs will obviously be higher in the petrol and mild-hybrid variants than they will be in the hybrid or plug-in hybrid version, but they’re competitive, as is Hyundai’s five-year warranty.
And while you might baulk at the idea of spending £40,000 or more on a Hyundai, you’d be foolish not to investigate why it’s worth quite so much. It’s arguably the most premium-feeling Hyundai yet.

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hyundai-uk-all-new-tucson

Others may baulk at the styling, and that’s fine, I did until I saw it in the flesh but, again, reserve your judgement until you’re stood in front of one. There’s a lot to take in.
Some people like to stand out, and the new Tucson certainly does that well. But in this case, given how much is on offer, the wild styling is only half the story.

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hyundai-uk-all-new-tucson

 

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