The all-new Hyundai Tucson - which will replace the successful Hyundai ix35 in the third quarter of this year -will be revealed to the public reveal at the 2015 Geneva motor show in March. This is the first standalone global reveal the South Korean company has ever undertaken.
The Tucson is built on an entirely new platform, and as a measure of the importance of both the vehicle and the segment, it will be called Tucson globally after a prolonged run of success in Australia for the ix35 nameplate.
Hot on the heels of the new Sonata which went on sale in Australia last week, the new Tucson follows the design brief set by Hyundai’s new "Fluidic Sculpture 2.0". That means less swoopy, dramatic lines, and a cleaner, more Euro-inspired exterior. The Tucson is certainly more car-like and elegant than the ix35 it replaces.
“Design expresses our progressive spirit and passion, and it is transforming our brand,” said Peter Schreyer, president and chief design officer at Hyundai Motor Group.
“The all-new Tucson has a bold and athletic presence achieved through refined, flowing surfaces, bold proportions, sharp lines and most importantly, our newest generation hexagonal grille - our brand signature.”
Unmistakably a modern SUV, the Tucson is classier all-round than the ix35, with a more cohesive exterior design. The front end is dominated largely by the aforementioned signature hexagonal grille, and the LED headlights to deliver a distinctive frontal visage. The front bumper incorporates LED daytime running lights, while the cleverly styled front bumper also lends the Tucson a wider, more aggressive appearance.
Hyundai’s designers wanted a sleeker profile and as such, they have moved the A-pillar back to disconnect it from the sweeping bonnet. The canted, directional lines of the wheel arches also assist here too, while the rear is characterised by clean, horizontal lines and slim taillights.
“We wanted the new Tucson to be sportier, more aggressive, with more purpose visually,” chief designer Nicola Danza told CarAdvice. “You can see the changes to the front end, the wheel arches, the way the wheels sit further out to the edge of the body. It’s aggressive, purposeful, but in a good way. These elements help to make the Tucson look sportier. We’ve even lowered the driver’s seat within the cabin to match the lowered roof profile, which gives a better feeling for the driver.”
Open the doors and the recent improvements in Hyundai’s interior design continues. Schreyer is keen to emphasise the importance of combining elegance with ergonomics to deliver a cabin worthy of more expensive vehicles. New soft-touch materials feature throughout the cabin and Hyundai claims to have put the cabin layout through a series of ergonomic tests to ensure it is as easy to use as it is impressive to look at.
We noticed some reflection issues off the dash with the new Sonata under the harsh Australian sun at launch, and it appears the Tucson will have similar problems if the bright studio lights were anything to go by. It’s a minor gripe though, in an otherwise functional, classy and comfortable interior.
The elegant simplicity afforded by the horizontal three-tier layout to the major controls is something we appreciated in the Sonata’s cabin and looks just as at home in the Tucson’s cabin as well. Importantly, the system proved incredibly easy to use in the Sonata.
Depending on specification and model grade, new Tucson has heated and ventilated front seats, featuring a longer squab - great news for long-legged owners with the previous ix35 often coming in for criticism with its shorter front seat bases. Theres also a smart powered tailgate (which opens as you approach with the key) and Smart Parking Assist with parallel and bay parking function.
Hyundai claims the all-new satellite navigation system is more than three times faster than the previous version and comes with a seven-year free subscription to TomTom Live services.
The new Tucson will not only replace the ix35, but it will also step into the Medium SUV category instead of the ix35’s current status as a Small SUV in Australia, based on the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries' VFACTs data.
The dimensions of the new Tucson show the reason for the move: it is 4475 millimetres long, 1850mm wide and 1645mm tall, and rides on a 2670mm wheelbase. That makes the Tucson 65mm longer, 30mm wider and 15mm lower than the ix35 it replaces, and the wheelbase is also 30mm longer than the outgoing ix35.
It’s no surprise then, that there’s plenty of space on offer - a critical element in the step from small to medium-sized SUVs. With the second row in place, there’s an impressive 513 litres of luggage space.
With such rabid competition, the Medium SUV sector is often segmented by buyers on price and inclusions equally, so the Tucson will need to be equipped well in terms of safety to take the fight up to the established stars. Autonomous Emergency Braking is available with three operation modes - pedestrian, city and inter-urban - as well as Lane Keeping Assist and Rear Traffic Cross Alert.
Blind-spot warning is also standard, along with the Speed Limit Information Function, which monitors road side signs and provides reminders for the driver as to the local speed limit.
Hyundai Australia hasn't yet confirmed exact specifications for the various models that will make their way onto the Australian market, but crucially, the company has confirmed that every Tucson will come standard with a reverse-view camera.
In Europe the Tucson will be available with no less than five different engine choices and both AWD and FWD platforms. The two petrol engines include the 1.6-litre GDI (99kW and six-speed manual only) and the 1.6-litre T-GDI (130kW with six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT). The three oilers include the 1.7-litre (85kW and six-speed manual only), the 2.0-litre standard power (100kW with six-speed manual or six-speed auto) and the 2.0-litre high power (135kW with six-speed manual or six-speed auto).
All engines have been tuned to offer enhanced drivability and fuel efficiency and all meet strict Euro6 emissions standards. Every Tucson will come with Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.
Hyundai Australia does know two things for certain about which engine variants will hit the local market.
“The 1.6-litre turbo engine with the DCT will be our replacement for the 2.4-litre drivetrain,” said Hyundai Australia public relations general manager, Bill Thomas. “We will retain the 2.0-litre GDI engine with FWD, and the 2.0-litre CRDI with AWD as well and we will definitely dual source the Tucson from both Korea and the Czech Republic.”
He went on to say that the exact model lineup and manufacturer’s list price is still a work in progress.
“The ix35’s value for money proposition has played a large part in its success,” Thomas said. “We will target a competitive price with new Tucson and a value ratio on all trim levels.”
CarAdvice expects pricing to rise slightly from the current ix35 to reflect the larger size of the new Tucson, not to mention more efficient petrol engines, upgraded interior and increased standard technology.
A critical aspect of the Tucson’s success in Australia - as with all recent Hyundai releases - will be the local suspension tuning.
“Local suspension and damper fine-tuning will commence next week,” Thomas said.
The all-new Hyundai Tucson goes on sale in Australia in the third quarter of this year.