Hyundai Tucson Premium SE

TUCSON: Holds plenty of aces.

COMPACT SUV models currently enjoy enormous popularity, with a wealth of competitors vying for customers in one of the most active sectors of the UK car market.

Kia Sportage, Renault Kadjar, SEAT Ateca, Ford Kuga, Nissan Qashqai, VW Tiguan and Peugeot 3008 are among formidable rivals that the latest Hyundai Tucson has to take on – but in my view it is more than up to the challenge.

The Tucson holds plenty of aces – it is more eye-catching than some rivals, more spacious and better equipped too, and its five-year warranty beats most of the opposition and helps it have very strong residual values. Prices start at €22,823  (£19,450), petrol and diesel options are available and depending on model, two or four wheel drive.

Even entry-level models come with features such as alloy wheels, air conditioning and Bluetooth, and my test model was the flagship Premium SE which  has  heated and cooling electric front seats, a heated steering wheel, electric tailgate, larger 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, panoramic glass sunroof,  roof-rails, reversing camera  and parking sensors, an eight-inch touchscreen, sat-nav, and a list of 32 safety and security features including rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.

In two-wheel-drive 1.7 litre diesel form, with seven-speed auto gearbox, this top-spec model costs €31,325 (£29,695). Top speed is 185 kmph (115 mph), 0-100 kph and 0-60 mph time is 11.5 seconds and fuel economy is 20.3 kmpl (57.6 mpg) combined.

With a new chassis, new engines and new technology, the Tucson has a lot to offer but what impressed me most was its driving feel. It seems absolutely in touch with the driver, with intuitive steering response, beautifully composed ride quality and precise and assured handling. The 140 hp diesel unit is quiet and refined, the dual-clutch auto gearbox ultra-smooth with its changes. 

Over the months, I have driven all the main opposition models, and the Tucson is the one I have enjoyed most for overall driving dynamics.

Striking exterior styling gives the Tucson plenty of charisma and while the cabin looks rather less exciting, it is well designed for function and ease of use, with a clean uncluttered look and a quality appearance that matches that of Volkswagen.

Stats panel: Model: Hyundai Tucson Premium SE Engine:1.7 litre diesel Transmission: 7-speed automatic Performance: 0-100 kmph (0-60 mph) 11.5 seconds, top speed 185 kmph (115 mph) Economy: 20.3 kmpl (57.6 mpg) combined Emissions: 129g/km

Seating is comfortable and supportive, and there is good space in the rear for even taller adults. The boot space of 513 litres is larger than that of the Qashqai and Kadjar, and expands to 1,503 litres.

The latest Tucson is light years ahead of the original version in all respects and it is now in a commanding position in a segment already crowded with some excellent rivals. No doubt about it in my view, Tucson has to be on the short list of any potential SUV buyer.

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