Double Turbo Options for Hyundai Tucson

By Lee Pang Seng

THE turbo fever is certainly catching on fast, especially at Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors Sdn Bhd (HSDM) as it followed up to the Elantra Sport Turbo with two new Tucson turbocharged models. That is giving the lifestyle automotive market a double kick instead of one to spice up one’s motoring pleasure.

The current Tucson, the latest version of which was introduced more than a year ago with a normally aspirated 2.0-litre engine, now has the addition of a petrol turbo and a diesel turbo to make it a threesome. Those in the market for the Tucson SUV (sport utility vehicle) couldn’t be more spoilt for choice.

HSDM recently introduced the new Tucson variants to the media through a PJ-Ipoh drive for an immediate vehicle on-road experience. Part of the route to Ipoh took in secondary roads that were mainly part of the old ‘highway’ to the north while the return drive after lunch was left up to one’s choice in the route taken.

Before we delve into the driving aspects, we take a closer look at the turbo power units on offer. First, the petrol turbo; It comes as no surprise that it is similar to the engine in the Elantra Sport, this being the 1.6-litre Gamma GDI. This is an undersquare unit with 77mm bore and 85.4mm stroke to displace 1591cc. However, the Tucson unit has a higher compression ratio of 10:1 against 9.5 and lower power output.

It delivers 130kW (177PS) at 5500rpm and 265Nm that develops just as early at 1500rpm and holds till 4500rpm (Elantra Turbo’s output is 149.7kW (203.6PS) at 6000rpm and almost 265Nm from 1500rpm to 4500). We were told that the Tucson had a smaller turbocharger although we believe it was a matter of chipping; that is, the Tucson’s turbo system has a milder boost pressure to that of the Elantra.

Both the Tucson and Elantra have the same seven-speed Dual Clutch transmission to channel the engine output to the front wheels. Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors has opted to introduce the Tucson as two-wheel drive models as SUVs are generally bought in Malaysia and probably the world over for on-road drives. Two-wheel drives are also cheaper in price as well.

For the diesel version, it has the latest R-series 2.0-litre CRDI engine with piezo-electronic injectors that deliver the fuel at 1800 bars. This unit is also undersquare in configuration with 84mm bore and 90mm stroke to displace 1995cc. It delivers similar power output as the petrol turbo with 130kW (178PS) at 4000rpm but significantly more torque, being typical of turbodiesel engines, with 400Nm from 1750rpm to 2750. The transmission is a six-speed automatic, similar to that for the normally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol model.

The Tucson models share similarities in the suspension design, being independently sprung all round with MacPherson struts in front and a multi-link rear, all-round disc brakes (ventilated ones in front), motor driven power steering or in other words, electric steering, and 225/60 R17 tyres on 17-inch alloy wheels of varying designs. The Tucson 2.0L CRDI diesel has optional accessories such as three interior leather packages (black, red and white), body kit and 19-inch rims.

Generally, it’s the standard equipment level that separates the turbo models from the normally aspirated Tucson. Standard to the turbo models are electric control of the door mirrors and folding facility, indicators on the door mirrors, LED (light emitting diode) light guide, LED headlamps with Static Bending lights while the normally aspirated Tucson only has a projector headlamp.

Stepping inside the turbo models there are more differences; standard items include the Safe Drive Recorder, electric eight-way driver seat adjustment and lumbar support, Smart Tailgate System, electronic parking brake, Electro-Chromic rearview mirror, rear console air vents, bigger 4.2-inch Super Vision monitor on the dashboard, among others.

We began the PJ-Ipoh drive with the Tucson diesel turbo. About a third of the way, we were led off the highway to the secondary road route to let us get a dynamic feel of the Tucson turbo power. With 400Nm of torque coming in quite early, we could feel the initial kick in acceleration and enjoy its readiness to pick up the pace and go.

This was fully enjoyed on the secondary route where we could overtake with confidence with this positive surge of engine output. We just eased on the accelerator and the turbocharged engine produced the strong charge of horses and oomph for us to pass slower vehicles with lots of room to spare. Of course, we did push our luck a little a few times as a result.

The Tucson 2.0-litre turbodiesel could easily maintain an illegal pace as the engine was hardly stressed, turning around the 2000rpm range. With the engine speed at 2500rpm and above, the road speed was above 140km/h and when the open road beckoned the speedo needle went above 160km/h during short spurts.

Dynamically, the Tucson was well sorted in the suspension area and we could explore its limits through some of the winding stretches. The damping rates were also nicely selected as the capacity to absorb the bumpier nature of the secondary route was up to par and we were spared a jolting ride. It also retained a stable poise when we drove fast, and this boosted our confidence.

It was just as well that we did some gung-ho driving as there was more than one’s fair share of slow driving through towns on the old highway route, including a brief stop in Bidor to get some chicken biscuits and other tidbits. As expected, we were the last Tucson team to arrive at our lunch stop in Ipoh.

The return drive was made in the 1.6-litre petrol turbo and we were at liberty to choose our route back to the start point in Holiday Inn, Glenmarie. The only condition was that we had to arrive at the destination within a given time. We decided to stick to the highway and it was just as well as it rained for a good part of the way.

With one third less torque output than that produced by the 2.0-litre turbodiesel, the slight lack of a strong initial kick was felt but it was still good enough to get going quickly with 265Nm of torque peaking at 1500rpm. There could be a difference in kerb weights between these two turbo models (ranging between 1450 to 1500kg) but the power-to-weight ratio is probably not too big.

We enjoyed a similar strong pace on the move and the readiness of the petrol turbo to get up and go rapidly when we eased on the accelerator. With the seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, we were using more or less the same engine speed range to cruise. Keeping to legal speeds mean the engine speed is about 2200rpm and hitting 3000rpm and above means going at a full gallop.

The Tucson is well insulated from engine and wind noise as we could conduct normal conversation during the drives; we even caught 40 winks on the way back as the heavy rain and fairly heavy traffic flow along some parts of the north-south highway forced our co-driver to keep to legal speeds and lower.

In fuel consumption, our more prudent use of the accelerator had the average fuel consumption indicator on the instrument panel above 12km/l at the end of our drive. When we took over the petrol turbo, that reading was below 10km/l, which indicated the hard driving that it was subjected to earlier. We improved that to more than 11km/l, proving that we could still drive fast and not burn up too much petrol.

In that respect, Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors say all the Tucson models are granted Energy Efficient Vehicle status from the Malaysian government. And its prices are attractive too. The 1.6-litre petrol turbo is priced at the same level that the normally aspirated 2.0-litre Tucson used to be sold at. This is RM145,668 on the road without insurance while the non-turbo 2.0-litre model (Elegance) is now priced at RM126,188. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel fetches a premium tag at RM155,788.

All the Tucson variants are entitled to 50,000km free service with three years validity. For warranty, HSDM offers a five-year or 300,000km warranty for all of its passenger vehicle range. There is also a 24-hour road assist service.