Friday 9 December 2016

Hyundai Tucson: Making marque of trust

With the new Tucson, Hyundai has a fresh hit on its hands - but Campbell Spray would rather not be such a fan

Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30

The new Hyundai Tucson: Solid attractive style and value for families
The new Hyundai Tucson: Solid attractive style and value for families

Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a fan of the Hyundai marque. Yet it is difficult to be totally objective about a brand which you suggested to your partner, and that she puts her own money on the line for. Can you imagine the scene at home if it all went wrong? Life very much on the hard shoulder.

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Luckily I know that next year she will be returning with cash in her pocket for another i10, her third. It's a marque I have also suggested to friends, family and colleagues; a job that fills me with dread. But so far - with one cantankerous exception - they still look me in the eye and shake my hand for a task well done.

The five-year warranty and - more often than not - five years free servicing does give incredible peace of mind. It's a marque that is now in fourth place in the Irish market with a share of nearly 10pc, compared to a third of that just a few years back. Hyundais have been picking awards everywhere and for the last year the i10 has been Sunday Independent Car of the Year.

Recently I was given the chance to drive Hyundai's Genesis saloon, which was voted the USA Car of the Year. It's a large premium level executive saloon powered by a massive 3.8litre petrol engine. In style, comfort and spec it outshone premium brands here, although it would probably cost €70k to import.

Its looks are more Maserati or Jaguar rather than Hyundai. No wonder the marque is planning to launch Genesis as a separate up-market brand with SUVs and new saloons; think Lexus and Toyota, Infiniti and Nissan. Whether the sub-brand comes to Ireland is still in the air, but if the Hyundai charge keeps powering-on there's no reason why it won't. Already Hyundai is selling models costing in the middle €50ks.

My original intention for this column was to write about the new Hyundai Tucson, which replaces the massively successful ix35, which replaced the more mundane Tucson. Confused? Well, I am, anyway, but apparently it's all about having a global name and the Tucson is doing incredibly well in the States.

It doesn't seem to have impacted on sales, in fact very much the opposite. Hyundai has been astounded by orders for the new Tucson and is pushing hard to get plenty of supply for early 2016.

The ix35 pushed the 'crossover' leader, the Nissan Qashqai, very hard over the last two years even though the Nissan had a new model and the Hyundai was due to be replaced. I think the Tucson will take over sector leadership as it's a very complete overall package with a very high spec, even for the starting price of €25,245 for the 2WD 1.6 petrol Comfort version and €26,995 for the 1.7 diesel Comfort (excluding p&p).

It's a pity that petrol engines are not continued over here for the higher options as the big seller is likely to be the Tucson 2WD 1.7 diesel Executive version, retailing two coffees short of €30k. 4WD versions start at €35,495 and with options you could be hitting €40k.

But at whatever price, the Tucson package is incredibly competitive. It isn't massively exciting, but just solid attractive style and value for the family who want the size, chunkiness and adaptability of a crossover. It is extremely pleasant to drive and during three excursions into the Dublin and Wicklow mountains it gave an impression of being really well-built with controlled roll, confident handling and good suspension.

The only complaint came from my partner who was envious of all the controls for my seat while she felt a bit uncomfortable. I also felt that the air-conditioning and demisting functions were a bit imprecise.

Yet overall Hyundai has managed to give a real premium feel and nobody will feel cheated on the massive specs. The load area is good and the rear seats fold simply. The Tucson is a car that is good to live with. However, I would like to see more petrol options.

Buy now, if you want, but I believe in waiting for any niggles to be sorted.

Sunday Independent

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