In a first for Awesome Wave, we were given a new car! For a few days anyway. The Hyundai PR team got in touch to see if we wanted to try out the new 2016 Hyundai Tucson and take it for an extended test-drive. With our trip to Devon with Holidaycottages.co.uk coming up, we thought it would be a great way to test the 4×4 in a realistic way and put it through its paces.
I am the driver in the team, and have driven a lot of different cars. The only 4×4’s I have driven are Land Rover’s, my favourite being a Defender so the Tucson was up against some serious pedigree. Or so I thought.
First Impressions (Size, Colour, Build)
When the car was delivered, it was parked up next to Deborah the Van and I was amazed to see very little size difference. This is a big car. There is nothing dainty about the Tucson, it looks solid and bold.
The colour, a vibrant blue was awesome – very likeable and a nice tone. It certainly stood out in our little cul-de-sac with its grey, black and white vehicles. I really liked it and it showed of the car’s curves and lines well. I could see why this was the press vehicle. Initial impressions of the car were very good. Much more than I expected.
We started off with a little jolly around the village and then to get some food at a local country pub. The maneuverability was smooth but I was having a tough time working out everything that was available to me. The car was packed with a lot of features. Ignoring as much as I could, I wanted a feel for the basics. The driving position, the going forward, going backwards, parking and breaking.
Core driving (Seat Position, Controls)
The seating position is lower than I expected for a big vehicle. That said everything feels low compared to Deborah the van, but I was surprised. It wasn’t a problem at all and the adjustable range of the seating more than made up for it. The controls on the chair were numerous and wide. We even worked out you can almost lie completely prostrate, perhaps to have a kip. There were all of the controls and options I would expect to find on much more expensive car. The seat was comfortable and covered with a good quality leather. As was the dash trim and interior, adding to premium feel of the car.
The throttle wasn’t sluggish and a quick tap into Sport mode made it more nimble and responsive. The brakes were sharp as you would expect from a car that had done less than 1000 miles and the steering was unhindered. Personally I prefer some stiffness in a steering wheel but I can appreciate the technology in what seemed to be super power-steering.
Reversing was made all the easier with the reversing camera. These might be fairly standard in new cars but it doesn’t take anything away from their inclusion being testament to Hyundai’s vision for the this vehicle. One of quality, space and safety.
The Tucson, pronounced “toook-saan” (apparently!) is a large vehicle. But then it is meant to be. It is an SUV and should be treated as such. More space is needed when driving and cornering requires an adjustment if you are not used to large vehicles. This is easy to get used to though and the benefits of the space inside are great. As mentioned the steering is sensitive so driving around town is extremely easy. There wasn’t a single situation where I felt I was in trouble of putting effort into turning. The car was solid and the everything worked very well together.
One big benefit when driving in town, is that when you need to park in small spaces, you have the aid of parking sensors. These are very useful to help with dimensions of the vehicle and with the rear facing camera, let you see the difference in what you perceive to be close and what is actually close. For me the difference was huge. We did the weekly shop on our second outing and I was about 3ft away from the bollard, using the camera helped me tuck the car away so the nose wasn’t sticking out.
The Tucson has some impressive tech inside it. One feature that should warrant applaud is the auto parking features. Where the vehicle can park itself when parallel parking. It should be applauded but unfortunately not by me. It made me smile but also a bit scared. For some people this feature will be a god send but for me, I did not like the over-dependence on technology for basic driving skills. But more on this later. (You can see it in action in the video below)
We had lunch and it was a really nice feeling to walk up to car. It did have presence in the car park, even when parked next to a new Jaguar XF, perhaps it was the colour or the shiny new-ness, but it made us smile to say it was ours. The automatic boot release is a handy feature and I could throw my crutches in the back without a having to fumble to lift the boot and press a button again to engage the auto-close. The keyless entry system was also a nice touch but due to my old ways, I still feel uncomfortable with it. Keyless entry also meant keyless start, this was fun and a nice feature of the car.
Where to put the keys once you are in given that they are not in an ignition slot wasn’t a problem either as there were tons of spaces and cubby-holes to put them in. There was plenty of room for everything and I think the interior space designers certainly had the busy adult or parent in mind when sketching the interior.
In the evening we took the 200 mile trip down to Devon from Birmingham. This was a lot of motorway driving but we are used to that and it was nice to do it in a different car. This is where some more fun happened, but first the basics.
The vehicle can handle speed, very very easily. The drive is smooth and solid. The heads up display shows you an array of data from your speed, mpg, average speed, miles to next petrol top-up, directions if using the inbuilt satnav, the radio station and more. The steering wheel felt premium and nicely moulded and proportioned. It reminded me of an Audi A3 S-line I had in 2010. All the required buttons were on the steering wheel but I didn’t use them too often. It was even heated, which was a feature I thought of all by myself when I was 8 years old. I’m glad car companies decided to take it onboard!
The seats were comfortable but needed some adjusting for the long haul. I pushed the lumbar support forward so my back survived the journey. The biggest issue I had with the driving position for a long drive was the height of the arm rest on the door. I like to rest on the door or the window-ledge but I could find a comfortable position on it. The window ledge was a bit high but then the styling of the vehicle requires smaller, higher windows.
On the motorway I found some of the more interesting features of the vehicle and some were a first for me.
First was actually my favourite feature of the whole car, as daft as it is – it was the Speed Limiter. With how comfortably the car can go at speed, it was not long before I was cruising at a speed breaking the law, the drive was just too smooth. As I fiddled with the cruise control to try and mitigate this, I found the speed limiter. I’ve never had one of these and programming it to a law abiding speed, I found that no matter the increase throttle-creep, the speed did not increase. This was revolutionary for me. It meant I could relax and know I could not go above the speed limit by accident, which is easily done in newer more powerful cars. With my foot to the floor, it wouldn’t increase.
As with some turbo’s, there is a button at the very bottom of the throttle position. In a previous BMW this was the turbo-boost. On this car, using the speed limiter, this served as an override. It meant that if I needed to, all of a sudden, I could kick out of the limit and accelerate if needed.
The next thing I found was lane assist. I almost didn’t believe what I thought lane-assist did until I tried it on some clear stretches of motor way. When turned on, lane-assist can read how close you are to the line either side of you and beep to tell you that you are too close. This was very interesting. Then my mind was absolutely blown when I was testing its sensitivity as the car moved! All by itself! The steering actually corrected itself a safe distance away from the line. This was nuts! I tried it some more and got to the point where I (safely) removed my hands entirely from the steering wheel, reduced my speed and let car drive itself – and it worked! My hands were hovering just over the wheel, but it was actually correcting itself as we drove forward. But what about when you overtake someone? It still works but is cleverly cut-out if you indicate, allowing you to take control and manoeuvre. Brilliant.
Blind Spot Detection
The next bit of interesting tech that has since had me staring at other vehicles’ wing mirrors, is a Blind Spot Detection warning. As I found, if someone is in a position that the sensors consider your blind spot, a light appears in the wing mirror of the side the vehicle is hidden on. Again this was fascinating and I started to see a theme with this car and for all it’s looks and glamour, started to understand the most compelling reason to own the car. Safety.
When we were in Devon, we had to contend with a lot of country lanes and in the dead of night, we were glad to be in this car. The collaboration with Hyundai couldn’t have been more perfectly planned. There were a lot of turns and sudden dips but the car handled them with ease. We had been following the onboard satnav, powered by TomTom and were truly in the thick of it. It was on the country lanes I noticed the headlights changed when going around corners. The cornering lights were another first for me and I didn’t see the point until I was taking corners in the pitch black with hedgerows 10ft high. They lit up the corners so I could manoeuvre better and I must say, given the further reach, warned some bunnies that we were coming and gave them time to go and hide, saving them from the 18” alloy wheels!
“Beams Save Bunnies”
The next day after staying in our cottage with HolidayCottages.co.uk which you can read about here and as part of out challenge to visit every county in the UK, we took to the roads again in search of some beach and adventure. Now it was day time, I could loosen up a bit and did so by loosening the car up and engaging Sport mode. This made the throttle more responsive and woke-up the suspension a bit. The car revved slightly higher than usual and the drive got more exciting.
Car or SUV?
I keep calling it car because that is what it felt like inside. Technically the Hyundai Tucson is a Sport Utility Vehicle but when driving, I felt like I was in any other hatchback or saloon. It felt like a car. So when I was driving around and going through puddles, driving up grassland to see some cows and mounting single track verges, it felt like I was in a normal car. You would think that was a good thing and I think for many people it is. To feel the comfort and safety of a car in a capable 4×4.
For me though, the experience was muffled a bit by the comfort and I wanted to feel more of it. The suspension cushioned everything, the nimble steering made no work of adverse camber and if anything the very light steering was almost dangerously light for traversing uneven ground. I would prefer to be able to feel the road a bit especially if I need to keep it in balance and come off the correct way. That said, technology has come a long way since the 4×4’s I have owned and even then, this is versatile vehicle that is for town and country, not just one.
Economy – the fuel economy is good but not breathtaking. At about 36mpg for motorway driving, some fun on sports mode and some start stop town driving, it was about as expected.
Rear Seats & Boot – I’ve not said much about the rear seat or the boot. They are spacious and comfortable and could fit 2 adults or 3 kids. There was a drop down arm rest in the middle and iso-fix safety fixtures. The seats drop down to open up the boot space which made the vehicle akin to a small van.
Too much Tech? – I personally don’t like the amount of tech in the car. It scares me how reliant some people could become on such technology and thus switch off to responsibility of driving a car. A counter-argument is that these features can be turned off. But their availability does concern me given the affordability to be a first car.
Safe – given the safety features, whether I like them or not, shouldn’t take anything away from the fact that this car has a lot of them. The car has been designed for safety and if driven by someone who understands to still look for a blind spot, while supported by a warning or to keep their eye on the road while being supported by lane-assist, it is car I would happily see more of on the road.
Full Alloy Spare Wheel – under the boot space was a full size, identical spare alloy wheel. This was a good feature, no space-savers to be seen. Another useful inclusion in the car.
The sunroof – the panoramic sunroof was a nice feature and opened up the Devon countryside to us.
Gearbox – Our model had a dual-shift automatic gearbox and given it was new, couldn’t be faulted. It was smooth and responsive. My only issue was that I would have like the gear change to be earlier in some instances to make the drive more economical and that throttle-shifting wasn’t all that easy.
This really brought home how my perspective of rear clearance is way over-cautious, which isn’t bad but can clearly be improved upon.
In addition to the higher resting rev point, the caffeinated throttle and suspension, the sport mode is fun. On a straight I took the Tucson from idle to 60 in a very short amount of time and the sport mode let the revs redline before automatically changing gears. For a large car, it wasn’t crazy fast, but a lot faster than I expected.
Perhaps strange given the previous favourite feature but the ability to drive safely and avoid throttle-creep on the motorway was a big feature for me. As someone who does a lot of motorway miles, this is something that would make my drives easier and less stressful.
There are a lot of features on this Hyundai Tucson, so much so that when I checked the price point for the vehicle I was amazed at how affordable it was. There is a lot of car, for a fraction of the cost of its premium brand rivals. I was out by about £15k on my estimations on cost.
The Hyundai Tucson for all of its 4×4 meatiness, is a vehicle designed for safety. With its blind spot detection, speed limiters, parking sensors, cameras, lane detection, size, build, parking aids and even an auto-breaking feature I didn’t get the opportunity or inclination to try, it is a very safety orientated car, that I would and have recommended to people since this test drive.
Note about driver
Raj is an experienced driver with Advanced Police Driver and 4×4 training. Please take caution when driving unfamiliar cars or attempting test their abilities.