Our Cars

Hyundai Tucson Premium 1.6T Hybrid

Europe has had almost 25 years to familiarise itself with full (or “self-charging”) hybrids, but they’ve had a bit of a bumpy road here. It’s a technology that lived in the shadow of diesel engines until the mid-2010s then, for a while, seemed to have been skipped altogether as drivers rushed for plug-ins instead. However, with retail EV demand stagnating and the government scrapping its “significant zero-emission capability” requirement for non-EVs in 2030, I wonder if that tide is about to turn.

Hyundai clearly thinks so. The Tucson, which is its best-selling model and the UK’s fifth most popular car, is available with a full suite of hybrid options (mild, full, and plug-in) and the middle of that line-up is perhaps the most versatile alternative to the diesel engine that would, until recently, have been the go-to model. It’s here you get electrification that’s powerful enough to really improve fuel economy – a claimed 50mpg, compared to 43mpg for the ‘mild’ hybrids – but not enough to require plugging in. Considering a quarter of vehicles are parked on-street, and the still-high cost of public charging, there’s a market for that middle ground.

SUVs have become as ubiquitous during school runs and supermarket trips as the estates, MPVs and hatchbacks of my childhood, but familiarity has done little to blunt the Tucson’s visual impact. It’s as creased and aggressive as the Lamborghini Urus and still unmistakeable with its partially illuminated cascading grille, all of which marks it out from a segment that can be prone to sameness. Hyundai has also been generous with wheel sizes, filling the squared-off arches with 19-inches of swept-spoked alloys even in mid-specification Premium trim. “It’s so angry,” noted my five-year old when she saw it first. She’s right, too.

As a parent, that athletic silhouette can be a red flag – but not here. Loading the Tucson for family life, I’ve been struck by the amount of space Hyundai has created inside. There’s enough room for adults to stretch out in the back and even recline the rear bench slightly for more comfort, though (like most rivals) the middle seat isn’t wide enough for a booster chair. The bench also folds flat in three sections, providing a useful load-through provision from the boot, but the tailgate is too heavy for the kids to open and could do with electric assistance. Tough luck – that’s only available on the Ultimate. It’s the only obvious gap in the Premium’s otherwise generous kit list, and that’s lucky because, aside from paint colours, there are no optional extras to choose from. Hyundai has most bases covered, including adaptive cruise control on the Hybrid, incredibly warm heated seats, loads of climate control options and wireless phone charging. It’s only full and plug-in hybrids that get the larger wheels, which thankfully don’t wreck the ride quality, and extra assistance systems that intervene to avoid collisions at crossroads or with cars in your blind spot.

Technology wise, the 10.25-inch touchscreen is lag-free and so intuitive that my kids have had no problem digging through the menus, but the downside is I’m subjected to whatever my front-seat passenger wants to listen to. A few weeks in, and I can confirm that the Krell audio system is as comfortable thrashing out the latest phonk (Google it) basslines as it is my own iTunes library and Hyundai’s selection of ambient space, ocean and forest sounds. Decent speakers are an often-overlooked detail, but they certainly make longer journeys more bearable.

That’s the next big test for our new arrival. The coming weeks will take the Tucson outside Cardiff’s new 20mph zones and onto the motorways, where I’ll get a real sense of how well the hybrid system fills the gap left by the now-absent diesel engine. Considering my experiences so far, I’m quietly optimistic that it’ll impress just as much as the rest of the car. 

What's Hot

Krell audio system is fantastic but, with no lining in the door pockets, it tends to rattle stray objects left inside them.

What's Not

The Tucson’s tailgate needs electric assistance or stronger struts – it’s too heavy and awkward for the kids to open.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



and save over 40%

Looks like you're leaving

Subscribe to Diesel&EcoCar for just £5.99 a Month

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.