Road tests by motoring journalist Tim Saunders
Above: Tim Saunders with Vicki Butler-Henderson
By Tim Saunders
We live in an era of big grilles.
This phenomenon has only started recently but any car you care to think of now boasts one from the Ford Fiesta to the Peugeot 508.
It has only really hit me during my test of the Hyundai Tucson; the chunky off roader with permanent four wheel drive. It too has a big grille, which definitely enhances its character as you can see in the video at testdrives.biz.
In a marketplace where there are a range of Chelsea tractors it is an increasing challenge for manufacturers to set themselves apart from the competition. Like an artist or a writer might seek inspiration from others, bits have clearly been taken from elsewhere. For instance, a quick glance at the rear reminds me of the considerably more expensive Porsche Cayenne but thankfully the front has greater character. I do find that the rear lights get in the way a bit when loading shopping into the boot. Probably my fault because the trolley is to the right and I have to negotiate the protruding lights. But I am in a car park and cannot put the trolley immediately beside the boot because there is not room.
However, there are some luxurious touches to this sub £30,000 motor, which make your head turn, too. I don’t expect to find heated rear seats that the passengers can operate themselves. Neither do I expect to find that the steering wheel can be switched from normal to sports mode. It’s a neat touch but I question how necessary this is. The seats are leather.
“The Hyundai Tucson revives a name the firm used for its mid-sized SUV in days gone by,” says Parkers, the car experts. “We’re not talking centuries ago, though – the previous generation was on sale between 2004 and 2009, but was replaced by the ix35. However, that name didn’t last long, and the Tucson has been reintroduced in an effort to take on highly established and capable rivals including the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Mazda CX-5.”
Eldest daughter Harriett (4) has just started big school and during the test the Hyundai takes her to this new place each morning. “I like being high up,” she says. This is a great attraction of such a vehicle because it affords driver and passengers a good view of the road ahead. I certainly find myself seeing things that I would never have the opportunity of seeing in my usual runabout; houses that are usually hidden away from view, for example.
The Tucson is an easy vehicle to drive but despite the helpful reversing camera such a manoeuvre can be difficult and time consuming when trying to get within the white lines in a car park. I give up and take two spaces. There is a blind spot when reversing and this is a bit of a flaw for me because the Tucson does feel a little too big and cumbersome for me. Remove this problem and it would be almost perfect.
Other little issues are the noises that this vehicle makes when you drive too fast or get too near the centre white line of the road. I discover that I can switch the lane departure warning off but I really fail to see why all these beeps and buzzers are included. They just serve to irritate. Sometimes it is all too easy for manufacturers to include as many bells and whistles as they can in the hope of ticking every box regardless of whether they are necessary or not. As with writing the Kiss principle impressed upon my by my former news editor would not go a miss. Keep It Simple Stupid.
Facts at a glance
Hyundai Tucson Premium 2.0 CRDi
New price: £28,075 on the road
Top speed: 114mph