Striking new Hyundai Tucson revealed

Published: 15 September 2020

► New Hyundai Tucson SUV
► Sharp looks from Vision T concept
► Debut on 15 September 2020

Hyundai’s best-selling SUV is due to be replaced at the end of 2020 and while the smart-but-sensible exterior of the outgoing model might be ageing gracefully, the same can’t really be said of the interior. The new 2021 Tucson plans to rectify all of that and, this time, the appearance might register with your long-term memory far sooner.

That really is quite dramatic…

To look at, definitely. The design is based on Hyundai’s Vision T concept that was revealed at the 2019 LA Auto Show and debuts a new design philosophy called ‘parametric dynamics.’ 

The firm certainly haven’t gone for a play-it-safe, evolutionary approach. There’s a lot going on with that exterior, so we’ll start with the front.

It’s certainly looks striking, with the centre grille sitting proud like a full lockdown beard. ‘Parametric’ is the word of the day, though, with the pattern described as ‘parametric jewels’ and the daytime running lights as, Parametric Hidden Lights – which blend in to form part of the grille when they’re switched off, effectively extending out the gloss back centrepiece.

Head down the side of the 2021 Tucson and the wheels range from 17- to 19-inches in size, while a chrome strip runs along the top of the window line, with a slight whiff of the Lexus RX as it extends continues towards the tailgate. The slightly squared-off wheel arches give it a slightly chunkier look while there are so many obligatory creases running along the side of body work it looks like the result of some origami folding.

The 2021 Tucson sits lower than its predecessor, but the wheelbase is 10mm longer and overall length has increased by 20mm, while sitting wider by 15mm. The shorter front overhang disguises some of that growth, though.

Head to the rear and you’ll see a full-width light bar with taillights branching down like fangs on either side, while lower down you’ll see a textured bumper insert. The version we see here is the top-spec Hybrid model, Hyundai claim these features will be standard on all models. 

There’s more, too...

That Hyundai logo isn’t positioned there because of a rear-wiper delete mod - this isn’t exactly an old Honda Civic Type R after all - but the rear wiper does now reside underneath the spoiler like on a Range Rover.

In terms of exterior colours, there are nine to choose from and each can be combined with a contrasting shade for the roof, named Dark Knight and Phantom Black.

Clean sweep interior

One of the biggest goals for the Tucson’s interior was to create an airy cabin environment. This includes a flat upper dash surface and involves lowering the instrument cluster for the driver, while removing the cluster hood in the process. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean that digital screen is now susceptible to glare...

The other big feature is the silver trim that runs along the doors and continues onto the dash – a bit like the Riva Hoop design introduced on the Jaguar XJ, except here it doesn’t run as far forward towards the base of the windscreen. The outer air vents are also hidden in here to help give a cleaner look.

On the centre of the dash, the tablet-style touchscreen of the outgoing model has gone and shifted lower down to sit with the climate control cluster. In terms of screen size, both the driver’s digital instrument screen and the centre touchscreen are 10.25-inches, and with that gloss black finish on the centre console, it appears the physical buttons of the old model will now be replaced by your fingerprints. There are also a lot of icons on there, so it’ll take some time to get used to where those controls are.

Where you will find buttons, however, will be around the area where you’d expect to find the gearlever, which is now adopting shift-by-wire, meaning there’s no gearlever to clunk through a gate anymore…

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is available, along with an upgraded 15V wireless charging pad and a KRELL premium sound system.

In terms of infotainment software, you can have User Profiles for multiple driver’s settings and Hyundai Live Services means access to real-time traffic information, the weather and fuel station locations - including prices.

Those who love an app will have Bluelink to locate, lock and unlock their Tucson, as well as checking fuel levels and integrating their Apple or Google calendar onto the touchscreen.

Elsewhere, the attempt to go premium extends to the textured stalks on the steering wheel column hinting at the exterior’s design cues – a bit like gnurling, but not quite – while ambient lighting can be found in the door bins and on the lower centre console with 64 colours to choose from. In terms of trim, customers can choose from teal, black or two-tone black and beige colour schemes finished in fabric or leather.

Added space and comfort

For the first time, rear passengers can have their own climate control setting as well as heated seats, while those up front can have their pews heated or cooled.

There’s also a Rear Sleep Mode function to prevent those sat in the rear from being disturbed, stopping the rear speakers from transmitting audio while those up front can continue to do so. We’re not sure what was wrong with adjusting Fade levels in the sound settings menu in the first place, but we’ll have to find out when the Tucson arrives.

The slightly larger proportions also increase boot space by 33 litres and rear legroom by 26mm, while the driver can also remotely adjust the front passenger seat to allow their favourite child to spread out in comfort a little more.

The battery in the hybrid models is placed under the rear seat to minimise intrusion while boot space ranges from 546 litres for the MHEV diesel to 620 litres for the conventional petrol engine.

Safety kit includes lane-keeping assist, rear cross traffic avoidance, driver attention warning, navigation-based adaptive cruise and autonomous emergency braking that can detect a car, pedestrian, cyclist or animal.

Engines

If you have an affinity to 1.6-litre engines, you’re in luck, as the entire engine range consists of these in varying forms. Kicking off the range is a T-GDI with 148bhp (with optional four wheel drive available), and a 113bhp diesel – both of these come with a six speed manual. 

If you want a 48v mild hybrid, you can choose from a 148bhp with two-wheel drive, or a more powerful 177bhp with optional four-wheel drive. Both are available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT. 

If you want a diesel MHEV, then there’s the 134bhp version strictly with a seven-speed DCT and optional four-wheel drive.

Three drive modes named Eco, Normal and Sport are available, but the four-wheel drive models also come with Mud, Sand and Snow.

A hybrid with 227bhp and 258lb ft will be available, with either two- or four-wheel drive. The system is mated to a six-speed auto along with a 44.2kW electric motor and 1.49kWh battery.

A plug-in hybrid will be available at the beginning of 2021, along with the sportier-looking N-Line trim.

Handling 

Yes, they name-dropped the Nürburgring when it came to describing the dynamic testing procedure for the Tucson, but considering a Land Rover Defender can be found here, we shouldn’t really be surprised. What’s perhaps more interesting for buyers will be the option of adaptive dampers, while even the conventional ones have a new internal valve system for better tuning scope, so whichever one you choose, the new Tucson should behave better than the last one, if at the very least, feel safer.

Check out our Hyundai reviews

By Lawrence Cheung

Bauer Automotive's senior staff writer; hot hatch hoarder, road trip hunter

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