Hyundai Tucson Facelift: Smoother and More Fuel Efficient

By Lee Pang Seng
THE Hyundai Tucson has had a relatively good run since it was introduced to the Malaysian market in 2010. As of late last year, more than 6000 units of the Tucson, which is imported from South Korea, were sold.

The facelift version was introduced at the KL International Motor Show (KLIMS) 2013 at the end of last year and comes with a new engine as the main thrust of its appeal. This is the NU engine that made its entry here a few months earlier in the Sonata facelift.

The aluminium head and block has led to a 30 per cent reduction in overall engine weight, shedding almost 34kg, while retaining unit strength and durability. Another change is the offset crankshaft design that is said to reduce the friction between the piston and cylinder wall, with a marginal gain of one per cent improvement in fuel economy.

Internally, the configuration has also been changed from the previous engine square profile of 86.0mm bore and stroke to a long stroke design of 97mm to an 81mm bore, leading to a marginally bigger displacement of 1999cc against 1998cc. The compression ratio is reduced slightly to 10.3 from 10.5, although the power output stays similar at 116kW (158bhp) at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm (the previous engine’s torque output peaked at a higher engine speed of 4600rpm).

The transmission remains a six-speed automatic unit with the Tucson 2.0 Executive Plus being a front-wheel drive model, the same as the previous comparative model. It is only the 2.4-litre model that comes as an electronic full-time four-wheel drive SUV (it apportions engine output to the respective wheel according to demand).

There is virtually no change in the body styling, which stays contemporary with its sporty and aggressive front. The fresh details are the new projector type headlights and LED indicator lights, though the 2.4-litre model gets LED rear lights as well. There is a greater choice of body colours now with the two new metallic hues being Atomic Orange and Cobalt Coast.
On the road, the new long stroke engine in the Tucson 2.0 gave a good account of its characteristics with a peppier initial pace as well as in picking up speed more readily to overtake. This means we could move along with slightly more urgency when we feel the adrenalin rush without having to push the engine hard.

As it were, the six-speed automatic transmission helps in good fuel economy as the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is merely ‘strolling’ at legal highway speeds: it is turning over at about 2200rpm to cruise at 110km/h. You would be pushing 140km/h if the tacho needle is at 3000rpm.

We found the new engine to run smoother and quieter than the previous unit, and this added to the quiet ambience of driving the Tucson. Wind noise is reasonably well suppressed by the aerodynamic contours of the body and adequate insulation measures taken on the doors and panels.

The new torque characteristics also allowed us to drive through our favourite corners and winding stretches at a slightly faster pace. Body roll continued to be well controlled, with the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension taking credit for that as well.

Ride comfort continued to be enjoyed, even over bumpy stretches. It might have been a little bouncy but for a vehicle of its height and ground clearance, road impacts are nicely absorbed most of the time to keep all on board comfortably cushioned. The tyres remain the same 225/60 R17 in size (which were Kumho tyres on our Tucson) fitted on 6.5x17inch alloy wheels.

As before, we continued to enjoy the conveniences such as the push button start/stop feature for the engine and the rear view camera for reversing. The 60:40 split rear seatrests would come in useful for taking on board large items with the flexibility in extending space, while the standard roof rails should be handy for attaching an overhead storage compartment.
The Tucson 2.0 Executive Plus model we had a few days with came with six airbags for greater and wider protection all round. Other features included MS Design skid plates in front and rear, a panoramic sunroof, semi leather seats, and GPS as standard equipment.

For a well-equipped SUV, the Tucson facelift remains attractively priced with the 2.0 Executive Plus going for RM145,888 on the road with insurance. The 2.0 Elegance with less features is RM13,000 cheaper while the 2.4-litre model is quite a steal at an additional RM13,000.

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