DRIVEN: 2016 Hyundai Tucson – 3rd time’s the charm?

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Not long now before the launch of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson in Malaysia – those keeping up with news surrounding the third-generation crossover will be well aware that said SUV has been making its rounds on roadshows across the nation. Why so keen to drum up so much hype so early on, you might ask?

The answer is simple enough. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson competes in the C-segment crossover class here in Malaysia, and in case you weren’t aware of it, it’s arguably one of the most competitive segments yet. Rivals include the venerable (perhaps predictable) Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage and offbeat ones like the Peugeot 3008.

We were recently provided to opportunity to sample Hyundai’s third-generation answer to the likes of the above in the Philippines. So then, on to the big question – does the 2016 Hyundai Tucson have what it takes to stand out in the ultra-competitive, ever-expanding class of crossovers? Let’s find out, shall we?

Before we jump right into it, let’s have a recap on the basics of the 2016 Hyundai Tucson. Revealed earlier on this year at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the new Tucson drops the ix35 name in certain markets around the world in favour for a more straightforward naming system amongst Hyundai models – the car is now known as the Hyundai Tucson globally.

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In the US, the Tucson differs slightly from the rest of what the world gets by having its LED daytime running lights (DRLs) share the same assembly as the fog lights. The cars provided in the Philippines were very much the rest-of-the-world models with the DRLs housed below in a separate assembly.

Since we’re on the subject of spec differences by region, note that the models tested here do not necessarily represent the ones Malaysian customers will be getting. For starters, we were provided with two engine options – a 2.0 litre MPi four-cylinder petrol engine carried over from the current Tucson, and a 2.0 litre CRDi four-cylinder turbodiesel.

The former pumps out a total of 155 hp at 6,200 rpm and 192 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. On the other hand, the turbocharged diesel engine produces 175 hp at 4,000 rpm and 402 Nm of torque from 1,750 to 2,750 rpm – both engines are mated to Hyundai’s own six-speed automatic transmission. As expected, the diesel engine misses the boat to Malaysia.

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While 4WD is available on the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, the models sampled were front-wheel drive only – all the better for it in hindsight, since the Malaysian-spec Tucson will only be available in said configuration. As for its dimensions, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson stands at 1,645 mm and is 1,850 mm wide. Wheelbase is 2,670 mm while overall length is 4,475 mm.

What about styling, then? Dubbed Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, the third-gen Tucson echoes its stablemates – especially the Hyundai Santa Fe – in employing a design language that employs a clean-cut look. The theme is more than enough to keep the car looking relevant for years to come, whilst ensuring that potential customers aren’t overwhelmed by the way it portrays itself on the showroom floor.

Up front, there’s a bold hexagonal grille framed by halogen headlamps or duouble-projector LED units on costlier variants (again, it varies from car to car in this case). Elsewhere, the Tucson models tested here ride on two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 225/55 tyres – photos of the Malaysian models have shown 17-inch wheels with 225/60 tyres instead.

Further adding on to the rugged aspect of the car’s looks are offbeat black wheelarch mouldings and contrasting side sill panels in silver – the latter is mirrored on the car’s front and rear bumper. Another styling element that marks it out from the Malaysian-spec cars are the dual exhaust outlets embedded into the diffuser-like lower element. Local units are fitted with dual units as well, but one pipe at each end instead of the twin setup pictured here.

But, while the exterior leans on the bold side of things, the interior is a relatively sombre affair – not exactly a bad thing for those looking to just jump in and drive.

The 2WD petrol units here featured a simple cabin trimmed in black leather, while the diesel variant came with a rather low-rent fabric/leather combination. In the base petrol model yours truly was assigned to, a powered driver’s seat was missing. Costlier variants will be equipped with a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat and an eight-way adjustable front passenger seat.

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Unfortunately, the overall build quality and materials employed could do with a fair bit of improvement. While uncluttered in its appearance, exploratory pokes and prods around the cabin revealed that the plastics were of the harder-feeling variety. Good for those planning to use their Tucsons till the wheels fall off, but not so much for those looking for an upmarket interior.

Another clue that gave away the car’s bottom-spec position in the range was the 3.5-inch mono TFT LCD display within the rather bland instrument cluster – a 4.2-inch TFT LCF Supervision Cluster is standard on the flagship diesel model. No fancy touchscreen head unit with navigation to be found here, too. Only a simple double-DIN head unit with USB, AUX and Bluetooth compatibility with six speakers for entertainment.

How about a reverse camera? Or a panoramic roof? An electric parking brake? All three are to be found only on the top-spec diesel that yours truly was never given the chance to sample, unfortunately. Practicality and ease of use, on the plus side, remain unaffected by whichever variant one decides to plonk for.

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All models get 60:40 split-folding rear seat, with the boot claimed to have a maximum cargo capacity of 513 litres. Also, an opening of 1,094 mm should make loading/unloading large items easy enough. A Smart Power Tailgate system is also featured, but (annoyingly) on the top-spec diesel model only. We can only hope Malaysian petrol units are better equipped.

On to the way the 2016 Hyundai Tucson drives, then. With the tilt and telescopic-adjustable steering wheel locked in place, the drive began with the car in Eco mode – the Drive Mode Select feature enables one to choose Eco, Sport and Normal modes simply by pressing a button near the shifter.

In Eco mode, throttle response was expectedly dull, with the car requiring a heavy right foot to get it up to highway speeds – definitely not the mode to be in for overtaking, then. With the Drive Mode Select in Normal, matters weren’t all that different from Eco, with the car providing a rather lethargic response still.

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As for Sport mode, overtaking became a tad easier with a quicker throttle response. With that said, the difference was more of a slight bump in acceleration as opposed to a complete character change. More enthusiastic drivers looking for a crossover are advised to look elsewhere. Steering feedback was also found lacking – the Flex Steer system provided close to zero feel, even with the engagement of Sport mode.

However, the diesel model in Sport mode was a completely different animal altogether. It’s a crying shame to see Malaysian buyers deprived of such a car, really, as the diesel variant could very well please customers looking for a Tucson with more gusto. The 2.0 litre petrol version, as you would’ve gathered by now, ran the risk of feeling a little underpowered at times.

On the other hand, the petrol model does have its fair share of merits too. For instance, refinement is exemplary with nary a hint of wind or road noise on the highway. On rougher stretches of the black stuff, the car remained calm and composed. Bumps and whatnot were quickly dismissed with a well-damped feel reminiscent of more expensive European vehicles.

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The suspension setup consists of a MacPherson strut layout in front and rear multi-links. Further adding to its touring capabilities is the fact that the Tucson boasts a maximum rear headroom capacity of 995 mm, and 970 mm worth of legroom at the back – unless you stand at over 180 cm and possess a stockier build, one should be able to fit nicely in the rear.

On rather busy (and narrow) streets, the Hyundai Tucson makes even more sense with a minimum turning radius of just 5.3 metres, while the six-speed auto was more than smooth enough for most manners of daily driving. All-round visibility is decent from the driver’s seat, while rear passengers get an added dose of comfort from the rear air-con vents which are standard on all variants.

In term of fuel consumption, official figures are quoted at 7.9 l/100 km on the combined cycle for the petrol engine, while the 2.0 litre diesel unit was officially recorded at 5.9 l/100 km – both figures were of the 2WD variants. The drive itself, which saw plenty of stopovers and vehicle swaps, prevented yours truly from getting an accurate real-world fuel consumption rating.

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While we can only hope for the full suite of safety features on the Malaysian-spec models, the units tested in the Philippines were equipped with dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and electronic stability control. A maximum of six airbags (dual front, side and curtain airbags) are exclusively available on – you guessed it – the top-spec diesel. An additional safety feature includes Blind Spot Detection system on the flagship model.

Also exclusive to the range-topper are front and rear parking sensors (the rest except the base petrol variant get reverse sensors only) and an electro-chromic rear mirror. All in all, it’s quite the list, but the real question is as mentioned above – will all of these features make it onto the Malaysian-spec Hyundai Tucson?

At the end of the day, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson has demonstrated that it does possess the potential to really upstage the competition. While it may not be the most exciting thing to drive, it counters with exemplary levels of refinement and useability. Couple its contemporary (but inoffensive) styling to the right amount of kit for the right amount of money and Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors could have a winner on its hands.

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Gregory Sze

An “actor” by training, Gregory Sze realised that he has had enough of drama in his life. Following his number one passion (acting was actually number two), he decided to make the jump into the realm of automotive journalism. He appreciates the simple things in life – a simple car with nothing but back-to-basics mechanical engineering and minimal electronics on board.



  • Looks Nice!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 8
    • lawrence on Nov 07, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      It definitely looks nice. But the only engine option available in Malaysia is disappointing. Hyundai should offer better specs to fight with its competitor, especially CX-5. They took away auto aircond, power tailgate, LED tail light, panaromic roof. How to fight lar like that.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 2
      • Same L0rrrrj on Nov 07, 2015 at 9:12 pm

        For those earn less than RM 6k a month, they go for Kimchis and take 9 years 90% loan. As a Lexus owner, I only take 7 years 80% loan and I buying my 4th Lexus next month. Work hard Kimchis driver.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 73
    • Dashboard looks ugly. Typical Korean look.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9
    • Game changer on Nov 08, 2015 at 10:30 am

      After read it all now I feel so sad about Proton. Lagging at least 20 years behind Hyundai.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6
      • Turboed on Nov 08, 2015 at 8:10 pm

        Boring petrol engine. CFE much better

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
      • No need feel sad. Hyundai started off 30 years before Proton. So catching 10 years less is alredi a good achievement

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3
  • The higher spec model in Malaysia priced RM143k – verified and confirmed. I think they will be expecting another new Sonata like sale figure…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 1
  • Pakcik on Nov 07, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Bring it the Kadjar!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3
  • Victor Gan on Nov 07, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    To be honest, I was actually looking forward to this review. In the end, I think I am very disappointed with the new Hyundai Tucson. The exterior is beautiful. The interior is damn depressing to look at. And the safety list, even a Kia Picanto can do much better than this car. Truly disappointing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1
  • before, it’s singapore, thailand and indonesia. now even philipines are getting better option than us. i’m waiting for time when vietnam and cambodia surpasses us also (or are we the biggest loser in asean already?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 1
  • Logan on Nov 07, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Just want to know between high spec n low spec ,price are about 15k different. Will have look n test drive tomorrow in klang lama

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
    • lawrence on Nov 07, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      The launch date is yet to be confirmed. I doubt you can test drive it tomorrow

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • sudonano (Member) on Nov 07, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Looks very decent and probably will age better than the outgoing Tucson.

    But again, the same 2 issues remain. The current model’s build quality is downright offensive at times, especially the Inokom ones compared to the rest of the Hyundai range. Poor fit and finish, hard materials and meh seats has earned it a spot on one of the most disappointing SUVs compared to the competition, cause on paper, there was some serious value for money. The other big issue was the dull 2.0l engine. Hyundai knows this from the Sonata, so it really amazes me why didn’t Hyundai consider the diesel or any other engine (read 1.6 turbo perhaps?), cause honestly, considering the CX5 which comes in at a similar price, the 2.0 SkyActiv-G petrol is actually very much lively. Even the CR-V’s 2.0 i-VTEC engine is more responsive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0
  • Leafable on Nov 07, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    Ouch! Even the Philippine spec better than Malaysia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • Disappointed on Nov 07, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    the dual exhaust pipes we see in the local display units are FAKE!!! Go close and you will see it is covered with black plastic! There is only 1 exhaust pipe hidden underneath the bumper. What a big disappointment!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0
  • therealmaserati on Nov 07, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Super lousy car. The interior looks awful. And these clowns think they can compete with Honda?

    Pls Hyundai is only same standard as Great Wall Motors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 16
  • No 1.6 turbo dct option here? Why

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • tikamsenak on Nov 08, 2015 at 2:49 am

    i ll wait for 2nd hand price

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • Rennie A Ghani on Nov 08, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Too bad hyundai sime darby malaysia thinking still stuck in the 70’s. It is time to koge forward, lead the pack, bring in the diesel 2.0 and start the fiesel revolution. Come on Sime Darby…be the leader instead of the follower

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0
  • Don understand what you reviewing

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  • Tata Scorpio is better than this. Who wants to pay Japanese price for Korean quality? My 20 years old National rice cooker still working like a virgin.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
  • i call it the Cargo SUV.

    if this Cargo come with decorative 2 foldable seat, would looks better. Take Nissan X-Trail and New Toyota Fortuner for example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2
  • Maria on Nov 09, 2015 at 11:34 am

    SD hyundai again want to cheat us with giving creap spec even our neighbourhood comes with better spec..Oh come on give us tgdi petrol and crdi diesel engine since our country will use euro 5 diesel..Give us better spec like 4wd.blind aircond.panoramic sunroof.Ohhh one more thing please SD Hyundai please give us a proper In dash head unit with bluelink like in korea instead cheap looking aftermarket headunit..I like this this car very much but pity that our local distributer ruined that spec for the car…Please SD Hyundai be a leader not a follower..

    P/s: just asking SA about tucson..This year it will come with 2wd version with 2.0 mpi unit.It come with manual air cond no sunroof no led headlamp and fake silver skid plate.This car cost around 128k-144k and rise 2k-3k next year.Next year a new engine will come but he didn’t tell which one.And 4wd version also coming next year

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • It’s almost as if your trip to Philippines was very much a wasted one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • jeffwhlim (Member) on Nov 17, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    We want Diesel! Priced at RM169k. Quite reasonable vs UK. Note that in UK the Premium SE 2.0R CRDI priced at GBP30,345. Which converts to RM180,000. So Sime Darby, Bring in the diesel PLEASE!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

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