Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the 2016 Hyundai Tucson 30th Anniversary Special Edition and verdict.
Never a company to miss an opportunity for a special edition, Hyundai is celebrating 30 years in the Australian market with limited runs of the Tucson and Santa Fe. The Tucson 30, as the smaller car is known, is based on the super-popular Active X spec level, but is really what looks like a very conspicuous toe in the water to see whether Australians are keen for a bit more grunt and a bit more bling in the volume-seller.
Price and features
The Tucson range is expansive, starting at $27,990 for the Active front-wheel-drive manual, rising through 27 distinct models (when you take into account transmissions, fuel types and front or all-wheel drive) to the $47,450 Highlander Auto AWD diesel.
The 30 is based on the same Active X trim level as our long-termer. That means a seven-inch screen with CarPlay and (finally...) Android Auto, air-conditioning, cruise control, fake leather trim, LED daytime running lights, auto projector headlights, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
The Tucson is settling in very nicely on Australian roads and when released was the harbinger of a new design direction for Hyundai.
The 30 adds all-wheel drive, the standard auto is replaced with Hyundai's seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, matte grey 19-inch RAY's alloys with fatter 245 tyres, matte grey side steps, quad exhaust tips for the dual exhausts (calm down boy racers, it's all for show), heated electric folding mirrors and a new matte grey diffuser.
The grey coloured extras are all to contrast with the rather fetching ash blue paint standard on all 300 examples. The 30 is priced at $37,750, a reasonable jump of $4760.
The Tucson has already proved itself with a number of everyday challenges in our hands, so the 30 should be no different. There's between 488 and 1478 litres of boot space available and the 30 includes a cargo net.
Up front there's a pair of (differently sized) cupholders along with the two in the rear centre armrest to take the total to four. The centre console has a decent-sized bin and there's a flat tray under the air-con controls that just fits an iPhone 6, larger phones might be a squeeze. Each door has a pocket with a bottle holder carved in for smaller vessels.
The Tucson is settling in very nicely on Australian roads and when released was the harbinger of a new design direction for Hyundai. It's a lot more restrained than the ix35 it replaced, with super-sharp Euro-style lines and much better proportions than the old-stager.
In 30 trim you get a lot of matte grey bits and pieces including the big, multi-spoke 19-inch alloys (up from 18), side steps and front and rear bumper garnishes. It all works with the ash blue colour of the paint.
Inside it's largely identical to the Active X, which means a handsome, clean look, again with more Euro influences than in Hyundais past.
The only misstep are the side steps (sorry) - they stick out and because the Tucson isn't Land Cruiser-tall, they're more of a hindrance than a help. Step out of the car in the wet or after a run on dirt roads and your calf will get wet, dirty or both. They're definitely for looks, as are the slightly ill-fitting quad exhaust tips.
Inside it's largely identical to the Active X, which means a handsome, clean look, again with more Euro influences than in Hyundais past. The cabin will take five people but four adults will be more comfortable. Most of the materials are excellent - the interior is a great place to be and one of the best to come out of South Korea.
Engine and transmission
The Active X is powered by Hyundai's 2.0 MPI producing 121kW and 203Nm of torque, driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic (or manual). It's not a rocket by any stretch. For the 30, Hyundai has replaced the 2.0-litre with the 1.6-litre GDI turbo, raising power by just 9kW to 130kW but torque is up to 265Nm, a 30 percent increase to help move the 1690kg kerb weight (145kg more than Active X).
Power meets tarmac via all four wheels and a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission. The all-wheel-drive model adds a diff lock to go with the hill descent control already present on the front-wheel drive.
Hyundai claims a combined 7.7L/100km on the combined cycle and, as ever, there's no stop-start to cut consumption further. It will run on standard 91 octane fuel, though. A week with the 30 yielded a far better result than the 2.0-litre MPI of the Active X - 9.2L/100km, which, with the added weight impost of all-wheel drive, is a good result.
Stepping straight out of our 2.0 MPI and into the 1.6 turbo-powered 30, the first thing we noticed is how much more relaxed the car is with this engine. While the power figure isn't much higher, the jump in torque both offsets the extra weight of engine and transmission but also means you'll be spending less time on the wrong side of the road when overtaking.
The handling seems unaffected by the extra weight, with a flat cornering attitude and an almost hatchback-like ability to change direction without body-rolling histrionics, as long as you're not going too quickly.
There's barely any lag and it's a smooth, easygoing unit that makes even less noise than the 2.0 in the cruise and a lot less with the foot down.
As with the rest of the range - and despite the bigger wheels - the 30 rides and handles impressively. The steering seems better too, with a less enthusiastic wheel-centring effect when you accelerate out of a corner. The all-wheel drive adds a little extra security in the wet, but there's little wrong with the front-wheel drive in the first place, unless you're actually going off-road (in which case, you bought the wrong variant).
The handling seems unaffected by the extra weight, with a flat cornering attitude and an almost hatchback-like ability to change direction without body-rolling histrionics, as long as you're not going too quickly. The fatter tyres work together with the all-wheel drive to generate a lot of grip, but understeer is the order of the day if you get ambitious.
As always, it's one of the quietest SUVs in its class - tyre, wind and engine noise are all well suppressed and the turbo's refinement is excellent, not something you can say about its installation in the Veloster.
Absent are clever tech bits like autonomous emergency braking and rear cross traffic alert.
Hyundais all come with what the company calls iCare - a lifetime fixed price servicing plan, five year/unlimited kilometre warranty and 12 months roadside assist.
The Hyundai website lists service pricing right up to 35 years/510,000km. Hyundai expects to see you twice a year and you'll pay anywhere from $189 to $289 for most of the services over the first few years, with a $399 service at four and five years. The highest listed price is $490.