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The latest round of updates for the Hyundai Tucson includes a mild hybrid system, a new gearbox and a revised interior.
The range-topping 2.0 CRDi with mild hybrid power had passed us by since the Tucson was updated in 2018. We check out its fleet credentials.
Standard equipment on Premium:
18in alloy wheels, touchscreen display audio system with DAB, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind spot detection system, rear cross traffic alert, LED rear lights, front and rear parking sensors, auto dimming rear-view mirror, automatic windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, keyless go, heated leather seats with adjustable lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, electric folding door mirrors.
Mid-size SUVs with big diesel engines can be a bit of a tough sell these days. The smaller engines are often perfectly adequate and the range topper usually 'benefits' from features like all-wheel drive and big alloy wheels. Those things are nice to have, but they are not essential and they can bump cars into an unfavourable BIK band.
So when the time came to facelift the Tucson, Hyundai introduced a 48V mild hybrid system to the diesel models to reduce fuel consumption, while the 2.0 CRDi engine also gained a brand new eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Smooth but thirsty powertrain
The facelifted Tucson 2.0-litre diesel has an official fuel consumption of 40.9mpg, which translates into 147g/km of CO2 (NEDC-correlated) and puts it into the 37% BIK band when registered before April 2020. In practice, that economy figure seems rather optimistic, since in the week we had it, mid-30s was more realistic for a mix of motorway and urban miles.
As a result, the smaller 1.6-litre diesel engine, which we tested last summer, might be a smarter choice, even if the 2.0-litre proved to be a thoroughly pleasant powertrain. With 185hp there is plenty of shove, and thanks to a smooth and responsive automatic gearbox you are never denied that power. It is quiet on the motorway and doesn't become intrusive when worked hard, either.
So what of that mild hybrid system? In truth, you would need to drive the old and new car back-to-back to notice the difference in power. The 2.0-litre Tucson is certainly never short on low-down grunt, but what you notice most of all is the additional functionality of the start-stop system that the mild hybrid system allows.
Thanks to the electric assistance, the engine can shut down while the car is still moving. Although it is a neat feature, it can be a bit hit and miss, and the engine firing back into life is sometimes accompanied by a slight lurch, so it is not the most refined system on the market.
More upmarket cabin
As well as the hybrid treatment, the facelifted Tucson benefits from some styling tweaks inside and out. The interior design is a bit swoopier than before and the dashboard now has some soft-touch imitation leather inserts. Some scratchy plastics remain, but the cabin does have a more premium feel to it than before.
The upgraded 8in touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard on the 2.0 CRDi, as this engine is only available with the more expensive Premium and Premium SE equipment grades. The system features navigation, DAB, Apple Carplay and Android Auto. It is easy enough to understand, the touch screen responds well and it is certainly not short on features, although some rivals do go a step further with digital dashboards and multi-touch displays.
For the facelift, a number of safety features have been made standard across the range. Autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist are included across all equipment grades, with driver attention alert fitted on SE Nav grade and upwards. All but the bottom grades have cruise control.
Interior space and driving characteristics remain largely the same as before. This means that the Tucson is still a roomy car with plenty of standard equipment and benign if uninspiring handling. Ride comfort is only decent, so it would be wise to avoid the larger wheels.