Tested (again): Hyundai Tucson R2.0 Diesel Elite Automatic

The epic trip

I’m sure you’ve heard of the custom that bumping into a friend for the second (or third) time in quick succession means you should go for coffee together? Well, I firmly believe in this and when it comes to cars, the new Hyundai Tucson and I are going for coffee, muffins, cappuccino and a light brunch.

A quick look at our test car schedule for the last year-or-so reveals that we have driven and reviewed no fewer than five examples of the fancy Korean SUV. You name most of the available Tucson derivatives and I’ll be able to point you towards one of our glowing reviews. 1.6, 1.7, 2-litre, AWD, TGDi, DCT, etc., etc.

It turns out that we’ve tested the 2.0 CRDi Auto Exec more than once and it got another turn recently when we needed a car to cross over to the east coast of Africa. Waiting at a charming seaside hotel on South Africa’s Wild Coast was one of our nearest and dearest’s birthday party stretched over five beautifully lazy days.

I can think of many worse choices for such an epic road trip because my old coffee buddy, the Hyundai Tucson, shines with all modern motoring amenities. Space, safety, luxury, performance and efficiency are all rolled into a handsome package that finds great favour with families and rental fleets in equal measure.

While its fairly unknown Nexen tyres are a little on the hard side – a fact highlighted by choppy low-speed damping – the overall ride is reasonably supple and comfortable for all occupants. Smooth and light controls team up with this version’s punchy turbo-diesel engine (131kW and 400Nm) to make a magnificent mile muncher.

As is the case with these journeys, my better half and I made the mistake of announcing our semi-empty car. Almost immediately we had nondescript boxes and bags in the spacious cabin with one of them containing a carefully packed 60th birthday cake. Its intricate chocolate construction arrived completely unscathed after two days…

Although it was professionally packaged, the cake surely benefitted from this car’s superb insulation and climate control. Of less concern to confectionary is the touch-screen audio system which wouldn’t play any USB sources until we discovered an obscured audio/video setting. Problem solved = happy road trippers.

Other positive marks I already discovered on our multiple coffee dates were the decent headlights and brakes, full-size spare wheel, thumping audio system (with subwoofer) and a comprehensive trip computer. This became a firm favourite when our 2L turbo-diesel Tucson matched, passed and then smashed its claimed fuel usage.

Granted, we weren’t in hurry, ferried a fragile cake and cruised at or below the speed limits but Hyundai’s statement of 7.8L/100km was beaten within a few miles of steady highway travelling. Our overall average for the 2,586km return trip was just over seven with the best legs coming in at around 6.8L/100km!

Some whining (on a very high level) was the missing seat heaters or navigation, steep learning curve of some audio system interfaces and the searing heat of black leather. Any lighter colours available? Numb bums were very seldom and only reported after many continuous hours of driving.

The price of around N$550,000 is a bit much to swallow, especially with that badge, although it has to be typed that this Korean manufacturer has made great strides in terms of design and quality while offering huge warranties and excellent specifications with their vehicles.

Another coffee date? I’d be happy to.

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