Hyundai Tucson N Line quick review

Updated: October 4, 2023

Normally, I try to spend as much time as I can driving a car before I jot down a review. Typically, you need about 800-900 km, and/or at least 8-10 hours inside a vehicle to get a reasonable sense of what it can do, how well it holds the road, how comfortable or sporty it is, and such. Alas, today, I will only be able to regale you with a relatively short article, my impression of a crossover SUV Hyundai Tucson, clad in N Line trim.

I got to drive a FWD petrol version, equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged G1.6 T-GDi engine, delivering 180 horses and a rather reasonable if not bombastic 265 Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed DCT gearbox. The interesting part is the mix of highway driving, urban driving, with snow, ice and sun all thrown into the equation. Well then, without further ado, let us dig in.

Teaser

A combo of quirky straight lines and stylish curves. Image credits: Hyundai Motor Europe GmbH.

Look & feel

Normally, I'm not too keen on SUVs, but lately, across the board, they have become a bit more elegant. And by that I mean sporty and aggressive. Hyundai Tucson does not disappoint in this regard. It's a sharp-looking vehicle, and the N Line trim gives it extra flair. The alloys are funky, alieny, very neat. The tires can be wider, though. The actual profile isn't narrow, 245/45 R 19, but the car is so big and bulky, they look relatively small. The Tucson could definitely do with more rubber surface on the tarmac.

Side, back view

The back part is particularly cool. Arrow-like lines and wedges, me likey. Wouldn't go amiss in a sci-fi movie.

Inside, you get tons of stuff. But then, I found a lot of it ... not suitable for my needs. The button-operated gear level (if it can be called that) feels wrong, the media system feels old, and I didn't like the navigation module. Furthermore, I found the sound quality only average, even though I'm not really an audiophille. Even at maximum volume (yup), the noise level is only moderately high, and the music playback was never crystal clear. On the plus side, the seats are sculpted, red stitching, awesome.

Driving, handling, comfort

My overall impression is mixed. Let's start with the goodies. The driving position is excellent. You sit high, the seats are snug and comfortable, and there's no fatigue even after long hours (roughly four) spent doing the poke 'n' steer. The controls are accessible, and there's a sane mix of touch and proper, physical buttons, defying the nonsense trends seen across a lot of the auto industry. The engine is fairly quiet, and has a rather decent grunt - unless you're used to more, that is. The car handled reasonably well in the cross winds.

Snow

Snow and icy conditions posed no trouble for the Tucson.

So yes, the grunt. There's pull, but I found the driving dynamics to be less precise than what I expected. Part of that is due to vehicle's massive bulk and weight, part due to a relatively soft suspension. In corners, you can feel the pitch, especially if you floor it. While the acceleration is okay (just below 9 seconds for 0-100 km/h), the car could easily do with fifty more horses and at least 100 Newtons. The DCT does a seamless job shifting, but you don't have enough oomph for quick, nippy overtakes when you need them.

Driving

You sit high and mighty, and the drive is pleasant. But it's not surgically precise.

The car seems most comfortable in the 120-130 km/h range, but if you're going around someone slow, you do need to downshift a cog or two. There's always a sense that you will get an injection of speed any moment now, but that never happens. The Tucson N Line does come with nice paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, which compensate for the button gears. With two adults on board, constant use of A/C, mildly aggressive driving and mostly highway speeds, the Tucson ate through about 7 liters of fuel per 100 km, which is decent given its size. All in all, decent, but the full potential cannot be realized in the 1.6-liter turbo, no matter how well designed.

Conclusion

I found the Tucson to be an interesting offering, with some nice, unique traits that you don't necessarily see in European cars. But it also comes with driving mannerisms that are different from the Euro stock. The N Line does add flair and hints at sportiness, but this wasn't to be had. The car was way too soft and tame for me. My taste for cars leans toward faster, more aggressive models with powerful engines and stiff suspension.

Presumably, the Tucson is aimed at the suburban driver slash family, those who like to take it easy or those for whom speed and centrifugal forces aren't the primary concern in a car. It comes with lots of goodies, solid looks, a well-equipped, airy cabin, plenty of space, and great seats. The performance is moderate, the handling can be sharper, and the infortainment system sure didn't impress me. All in all, 7.5/10, I guess. Thus endeth my short review, and a tad under 500 km spent in the Tucson. See you around.

Cheers.