NO BETTER ACCOMPANIMENT FOR HYUNDAI’S 30TH BIRTHDAY CAKE THAN A TUCSON SUV WITH SOME PRESENTS THROWN-IN. That would be the Tucson ‘30’ Special Edition.
And just a few extra sporty enhancements make it the best of the Tucson clan.
With our mid-size SUV segment more crowded than a Tokyo subway, every brand is looking for a leg-up over the opposition. Hyundai's Tucson ‘30’ Special Edition, at $37,750, certainly boosts the chances for the Korean giant.
And that might be the difference between the number two ranking and number three at the end of the year. As we write, Mazda’s CX-5 continues to dominate the segment but Tucson and Toyota RAV4 are neck-and-neck in the race for the other podium positions.
Who would have thought? Not only is this an SUV segment where Toyota doesn’t dominate but the Japanese powerhouse is in a dogfight with a Korean brand just to finish second… yep Australia truly is the world’s most diverse and difficult automotive market.
Vehicle Style: Mid-size SUV
Price: $37,750 (plus on-road charges)
Engine/trans: 130kW/265Nm turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder | 7-sp dual-clutch automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.7 l/100kms | tested: 8.6 l/100kms
What we’re looking at here is a special edition model based on the Hyundai Tucson 'Active X' variant.
But ‘based on’ is a loose description. For starters, the Tucson '30' Special Edition picks-up the excellent turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, Hyundai’s own seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and drives all four wheels.
Then there is the paint - an 'Ash Blue' metallic which is unique to the Hyundai Tucson’30’ Special Edition.
And don’t overlook the visual stuff: sporty 19-inch Rays alloy wheels, matte-grey side-steps, a rear diffuser and twin exhaust outlets.
All of that for $37,750 – some $4000 less than the equivalent Elite model and a not-inconsiderable $9700 less than the range-topping Highlander. No doubt about it, that’s great value right there.
- Standard features: Leather seats, electric lumbar support for the driver, cruise control, aluminium look trim highlights, branded alloy scuff plates
- Infotainment: Six-speaker audio with 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AUX/USB inputs iPad and Bluetooth compatible.
- Cargo Capacity: 488-litres (rear seat in-place)/1,478-litres (rear seat folded flat)
No changes inside – with the exterior extras you couldn’t really expect an interior do-over as well for $37,750.
Not that the Hyundai Tucson (Active X specification) short-changes for interior features – leather seats, premium three-spoke steering wheel/gear lever, some alloy-type interior trim and scuff plates are all a step above the entry grade ‘Active’.
Otherwise it’s the high-standard Tucson interior we know with a stylish and nicely-finished dashboard, comfy seats and plenty of space.
The rear seat split-folds 60:40 for cargo versatility and the cargo area includes a retractable cover and as well as a net with six mounting points.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine/transmission: Turbocharged 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol/seven-speed automatic
- Power/torque: 130kW @ 5,500rpm | 265Nm @ 1,500 – 4,500rpm
- Suspension: Macpherson strut front/multi-link rear
- Steering: Motor-drive power steering rack & pinion
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs
Let’s start with the engine – it’s a ripper. Not only does the turbocharged 1.6-litre deliver more power and torque than the regular 2.0-litre, we especially like the wide torque spread and the punchy exhaust note.
Pressing-on hard on twisty rural roads, Hyundai’s in-house-developed seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is a handy support for the turbo 1.6 with slick changes up and down the range to keep things happily on the boil.
However the same can’t be said in city gridlock or when reversing. That's when the six-speeder can get a bit clunky.
As we have noted a number of times when reviewing earlier generations of the Volkswagen Group DSGs, this is not necessarily a criticism – it’s just a trait of DSGs (the flipside of their on-the-fly performance and contribution to enhanced fuel consumption).
Ride and handling? Well this is a Hyundai so we expect high scores in that department (the return-on-investment for local testing and tuning).
We did not find that the 19-inch wheel/tyre combination caused any noticeable extra firmness over the regular Tucson – in fact, several passengers commented on its smoothness on road (and most noticeable on the multiple speed bumps in our local area).
And when the road gets twisty, the 19s and extra rubber pay dividends with alert turn-in and good mid-corner grip.
Even though the Tucson is an SUV, that dedication to suspension tuning pays-off with a flat (little body roll) stance even when on the limit. You really should sample Hyundai's local suspension-tuning if you haven't driven one for a while.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
Safety Features: Six airbags, anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist System (BAS), stability and traction control, rear-view camera
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometers
Servicing: Every six months/7,500kms. Capped-price servicing starts at $189.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Mazda has the CX-5 ‘Grand Touring’ AWD priced at $43,390 but you will need to carefully cross-reference specifications and features important to you to get a true value comparison. With 138kW/250Nm, engine performance from Mazda’s atmo 2.5-litre engine is lineball with Hyundai’s 1.6-litre turbo and the CX-5 is minutely more fuel-efficient.
While lacking the sporting flavor of the Hyundai Tucson ‘30’ Special Edition and Mazda CX-5 GT, Ford Kuga Trend AWD at $36,890 should definitely be considered. With 178kW/345Nm from Ford’s turbocharged 2.0-litre, the Kuga has plenty of zip (but doesn’t match the fuel economy of Tucson or CX-5).
The German styling has won plenty of hearts and the Kuga is a good steer in both country and urban environments.
Also making no claims to sportiness but a good buy in this league is Honda’s CR-V AWD VTi-L at $42,290. Although outgunned under the bonnet, the CR-V is nicely styled (at last for Honda!) and has plenty of interior space.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The latest Tucson is Hyundai’s most competent SUV to date – easy on the eye, impressive to drive, impressively refined and certainly on the same page as any comparatively-priced rival mid-size SUV.
For us, the extras included in the limited-run Special Edition 30 make it the pick of the Tucson range.
The side steps, rear diffuser and meatier wheel/tyre package give a nice sporty edge and the $37,750 price tag is a ripper.
At launch Hyundai had plans for only 300 units of the Tucson ‘30’ Special Edition but persistent groveling letters and emails might persuade the Korean to extend the offer.
MORE: Hyundai News and Reviews
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