Why Tucson should never be under-rated

Is this the most under-rated car on the road? I believe so. It’s a Hyundai Tucson, which is now in its fourth generation and giving plush rivals costing thousands of pounds more a real run for their money.

It is far more distinguished than early Tucsons
It is far more distinguished than early Tucsons

Tucson should be more familiar than it is. It has been around since 2004 and – with its latest premium styling – is one of the most attractive SUVs on the road. It sits below the Santa Fe and above the Kona and makes Hyundai a force to be reckoned with in the SUV market.

It is a big-seller with some 7m models produced, yet still Tucson is hardly a household name. Europe saw 1.4m of those sales, which shows this is a true world car.

I think it is paying a price for the blandness of the early versions but the latest model with its distinctive front end and impressive cabin is making up for lost ground.

The cab is a delight

Tested here is a hybrid model, with a wonderful 1.6 litre petrol engine and impeccable electric motor which make this a cost-effective car to own and run. Certainly, Hyundai is at the forefront of modern power.

Hyundai won e-Business of the Year at the Move Electric Awards 2022, with the revolutionary Ioniq 5 also named best electric car.

In just a handful of years, Hyundai has transformed itself from a car firm trying to catch up with established European rivals into a group that is setting the standard and pushing forward in the development of new technology.

It has done that by investing heavily in electrification and the wider mobility infrastructure with an incredible level of commitment.

In fact Hyundai plans to introduce 17 fully electric models; 11 Hyundai-branded models along with six models from Genesis luxury brand by 2030 as it seeks to expand its EV range. The new Hyundai BEV models will include three saloon models, six SUVs, one light commercial vehicle as well as one new type model. This year, Hyundai will begin sales of Ioniq 6, followed by Ioniq 7 in 2024.

But Tucson is a car for now, rather than the future. It comes as Connect, Premium, which is tested here, and Ultimate. It has a confident "jewel-like" grille, with geometric daytime running lights integrated in its design. And despite looking compact, it has a vast loadbay holding up to 1,756 litres of luggage.

As well as a standout design it has the widest range of electrified powertrains in the compact SUV segment, including plug-in hybrid, hybrid, gasoline and diesel as well as 48-volt mild hybrid options.

It has a best-in-class safety package and family-oriented convenience features which Hyundai say set new standards for forward-thinking customers.

It looks good and it rides well. The test model came with a decent automatic. I'd prefer a manual gearbox which matches better with the sporty engine but it is a smooth and fuss-free system.

The suspension feels firm on some of Yorkshire’s less welcoming roads but it’s a fabulous motorway cruiser, which not all compact SUVs can claim to be.

I love the dash and the fantastic tablet-style fascia which is easy to handle. It is a comfortable car with plenty of space and a premium cabin which is very impressive.

Tucson has won its share of awards including being named DieselCar & EcoCar Magazine’s Car of the Year 2021.

In fact, it has been a successful time for Hyundai. In 2021 sales grew by 47 per cent, thanks to some important new models including Tucson.

And more than12,500 electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in 2021, the fourth largest number of any manufacturer.

Hyundai registered a total of 69,680 sales during 2021, buoyed by enormous demand for new models like Tucson.

Hyundai Tucson Premium 1.6 T-GDi 230ps Hybrid 6 speed automatic

Price: £34,235. Tucson range starts at £28,495 on the road

Engine: 1,598cc four cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor

Economy: 43.5mpg

Emissions: 130g/km

Performance: Top speed 117mph and 0 to 60mph in 9.6 seconds

Warranty: Five years’ unlimited mileage warranty