Heart & Soul
Richard Augustin 
The new Tucson boasts a sleek and imposing exterior from front to end

The Hyundai Tucson has been around since 2004. You probably wouldn’t have noticed it because, truthfully, it looked rather bland. As far as SUVs go, it was pretty forgettable.

It is to Hyundai’s credit that it has actively gone and changed that perception, taking more than a decade to fine-tune the car. The result is the third-generation Tucson, which was launched here earlier this year by Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors.

The new Tucson serves as the Korean brand’s contender in the increasingly competitive compact SUV segment. With such a crowded marketplace and choices from both the Asian and European continents, Malaysian buyers are certainly spoilt for choice, especially when they all come with great features, styling and enticing prices.

Hyundai Tucson offers pretty much the same but there are definitely elements that help it to give its more established rivals a run for their money.


Vastly-improved looks

Big. Bold. Sharp. Hyundai designers have done their homework and delivered an SUV that is both stylish and rugged.

The Tucson, with its large signature radiator grille, streamlined body lines and sporty rear, exudes an air of European masculinity. The addition of projector LED headlights and revised 17-inch alloys further add a dash of style.

In terms of design, the Tucson is handsome, and it will look equally good both off-road and in the city, a quality that is not as present in most SUVs today.


Functional interior

Designed with practicality in mind, the Tucson cabin is clean, unassumingly spacious and functional. The dashboard design, in particular, is uncluttered with knobs and switches within easy reach.

The addition of an electric parking brake further adds a touch of modernity and frees up space along the centre console as well. The build quality is good and a step up from previous models, which will surely go down well with today’s urban drivers.  


Spirited engine

The Tucson is available in three variants in Malaysia – 1.6-turbo, 2.0L petrol and 2.0L diesel. Of the three, the 1.6L model seems to be the most enticing from both value and performance. At RM10,000 cheaper than the 2.0L variant, the 1.6 turbo sports a turbocharged and direct-injected T-GDI petrol engine that produces 175 hp and 265 Nm of torque.

Paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, power is driven through the front wheels. Despite its size, the turbo mill powers the Tucson effectively and efficiently with no compromise on power. In the event that a little more oomph is required, drivers can easily access the drive mode system and switch the car into Sport mode. 

The cabin has been redesigned to include an electric parking brake

Packed with extra features 

The standard for SUV has certainly risen in the past few years and automakers need to keep up to stay relevant. Hyundai has fortunately done so and remains competitive against its rivals by constantly improving its features.

The Tucson is no different as it comes with a number of features that have added value to the model. New to the SUV is a useful front camera, which comes in handy in parking and negotiating tight spots. The kit list also includes cornering lights, a brake Auto Hold function and a smart powered tailgate system.

Standard equipment includes front and rear fog lights, keyless entry, push-button start, rear air-con vents, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and a 4.2-inch TFT LCD multi-info display. The rear camera view screen is also housed within the rearview mirror, which eliminates drivers having to take their eyes off the mirror when reversing.

In terms of safety, the Tucson 1.6 T-GDI comes with six airbags, ESC, vehicle stability management, hill start assist, hill descent control, ABS with EBD and brake assist and Isofix rear child seat anchors.


A good choice but…

Despite the good looks and excellent drivability, the Tucson still has to battle public perception of its maker. Hyundai still needs to do a bit more marketing to convince a majority of buyers here who tend to gravitate towards Japanese SUVs.

Globally, Tucson is doing super well, registering encouraging numbers in numerous markets. We may well see that happening in Malaysia but for now, the marque still has a long way to go to convert the general mindset. We can certainly see a lot of appeal in this Tucson, which could help it achieve this goal.

Gamma 1.6-litre Turbo GDi
2-Wheel Drive
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual Clutch
Max Power:
177 PS @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque:
265 Nm @ 1500-4500 rpm
Fuel Consumption:
On-the-road price (without insurance): RM145,688 

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 261.