“I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time…”
Those lyrics, penned by Paul McCartney and John Lennon for the seminal 1967 ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album by The Beatles, reflect the progress made by Hyundai as an automaker – co-incidentally formed in 1967.
From its first production car – the Cortina in 1968 in conjunction with Ford – Hyundai Motor Corporation has moved from fledgling to full-grown and a major player on world markets with a structured product range that consistently improves with each iteration.
This is important because – as yet – Hyundai has not shown the complacency some others have done when climbing into the top three in world sales and where product eases backwards from vibrant to boringly predictable.
Heave-ho forward to 2018 and the introduction of the revised Tucson range into South Africa where the derivative has been a top-contender in its market segment since it was first launched in 2009.
In 2017, the Tucson had an 11,1 % share of the segment and this declined in 2018 in the year-to-date to 9,0%, as the old model completed its runout phase.
The new version has been given a new front and rear appearance with the addition of the Hyundai signature cascading grille, along with a new design headlight, fog lamp, front bumper and skid plate.
The Tucson’s interior is also new, sporting a redesigned dashboard with a floating 7-inch screen for its infotainment system that offers features such as Apple’s CarPlay.
Two new derivatives were introduced in the revised in the Tucson range, and a new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission and 8-speed automatic transmission form part of the changes in the Tucson line-up.
The Tucson’s sporty exterior design is achieved by the cascading grille and the refined new light signature with full LED headlights. An uplifted front bumper and refined skid plate complement the Tucson’s exterior appearance.
At the rear, the Tucson was gained a new rear taillight design, with a redesigned bumper and exhaust tailpipe. Its side profile features a new 19-inch wheel design for the flagship 1.6 TGDI Elite derivative.
Tucson’s completely new upper dashboard features high-quality soft touch material with a double stitching line for a more high-quality feeling in the interior. The focal point of the centre console is the floating audio system screen.
The new Tucson range in South Africa features seven derivatives, with a choice between three engines – a naturally aspirated 2,0-litre petrol engine, a turbo-charged 1,6-litre petrol engine and a 2,0-litre turbo-charged diesel – and three specification levels..
The test unit was the 1.6 Elite – a very significant plus factor in this being Hyundai works on the ‘what you see, you get’ so there is no working through a lengthy list of optional extras to try and find the base that matches the published pricing.
For Tucson, there are simply three specification levels with the Elite being top-of-the-range.
However, base specification is impressive and includes cruise control, the infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, LED daytime running lights, driver, passenger, side and curtain air bags. Executive adds Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), leather seats, Blind Spot Detection for side mirrors, Cross Traffic Alert detectors at the rear, electric seat adjustment for the driver and a full auto air-conditioner with climate control.
Elite, gains a panoramic sun roof, electric seat adjustment for the front passenger as well, a rear USB port, a push-button to start the engine and keyless entry.
Priced at R559 000 it goes up against the Mercedes-Benz GLA 200, Audi Q3 1.4 FSI and BMW X1, all of which are light in terms of the standard features comparison and offer options that will take their final price up a notch or two.
The Elite is powered by a 130 kW, 265 Nm turbo-charged 4-cylinder petrol engine, which is coupled with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, developed in-house by Hyundai.
There are three distinct drive modes on offer from the benign Eco setting that attempts to keep the vehicle in the highest feasible gear at all times and makes very gentle downshifts through Comfort where the rev range and gear ratios are best suited to daily traffic and short-haul runs.
Sport mode comes as delight and the car gets quite edgy in its desire to hurry up and launch itself at the far distant horizon and it is like having three cars in one.
Overall average fuel consumption ran at 8,1 l/100 km giving truth to the Hyundai claim the new auto box improves economy. However, when switched into ‘angry’ mode be prepared for a substantial increase in fuel use concomitant with burying the right foot and insanely yelling ‘Hoora’ as you power it out of yet another corner.
Equally, once cruising speed is reached and Eco mode engaged, the consumption drops quite dramatically – hence the very competitive overall average.
As a mid-size SUV the Tucson provides the right balance between everyday transport and leisure activities – comfortable seating with plenty of adjustment and enough support to keep long-haul runs from being tiring and painful, enough space for family luggage needs/sports equipment yet still small enough to get in and out of shopping centre parking spaces.
It comes with a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, 7-year/200 000 km warranty (comprised of Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty, with an extended 2-year/50 000 km drivetrain warranty) and roadside assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km.
As I said: “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)…”