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If you have any doubts about Hyundai's level of ambition right now, check out the front of this new Tucson - the fourth-generation version of its medium SUV. The way its grille appears to blend into the headlights is a real attention-grabber and just part of an overall design, also featuring exaggerated side body contours, which does a lot to make it stand out on the road.
It's not just the exterior that makes an impression either - climb aboard and there's an impressive level of kit on offer. Although the car tested here is in range-topping Ultimate spec, the most immediately noticeable feature is standard throughout the range. At first glance it might look like a giant central infotainment screen, but it's actually a 10.25in screen above a touch control panel - any disappointment is quickly overcome by the way it feels like operating the controls of a spacecraft. Also standard is the 10.25in driver display, although on our test car this was augmented by the optional blind spot view monitor, which replaces either the speedometer or rev counter with a corresponding rear side camera view when an indicator is switched on, helping with both manoeuvring in traffic and parallel parking. Other equipment highlights with the Ultimate include heated and ventilated front seats, and even heated outer rear seats, along with an electric tailgate, panoramic roof and three-zone climate control.
But the Tucson's interior has more to offer than just technology - good quality materials are used throughout, with an appealing mix of gloss and soft touch plastic, cloth and leather. And although it's only a couple of centimetres bigger than the old car, the new model feels big and airy inside for the segment (helped by there being no actual gear lever with our six-speed automatic test car, just buttons). Rear legroom is adequate and there's lots of headroom, even with that panoramic roof, while the boot is impressively spacious at more than 100 litres bigger than the previous model.
As we've seen a lot with Hyundai recently, the Tucson is available with a wide variety of engine options - although previously announced diesels were not part of the UK launch. Instead, there's a choice of regular petrol, mild hybrid petrol and, the most powerful in the current range, the conventional hybrid tested here, which pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor (a more powerful plug-in hybrid will also arrive soon).
The hybrid system is seamlessly managed and will happily drop into EV mode for decent chunks of time without any particular effort being made by the driver. Its 230hp output allows brisk acceleration and it's also impressively responsive -there's no sitting around waiting for the engine to fire up or the gearbox to find the right gear when the accelerator is pressed. Refinement is also good, and while the hybrid's official economy and emissions figures might not look amazing, they stack up fine against segment rivals.
As for cornering, the optional adaptive suspension fitted to our test car does a very good job in the firmer sport mode of minimising body roll - it doesn't exactly feel sporty but it's reassuringly controlled, while ride comfort overall is generally decent.
That suspension is part of a Tech Pack, which also includes other impressive features such as an around-view parking camera, the aforementioned blind-spot cameras and even remote parking, which allows the driver to use the key to slowly move the Tucson in and out of end-on parking spaces while standing outside it, for example if the space is too tight to open the door.
Compared with rivals, the Tucson in this spec does look to be at the pricier end of the segment. However, you do get a lot for your money and it's easy to imagine drivers who may never have considered a Hyundai in the past being won over.