TEST – Hyundai Tucson PHEV (2021): at your wit’s end!

The fourth-generation Hyundai Tucson, discovered in late 2020, has everything from the Korean tube. Devastating looks, high-end approval, onboard technology and updated engines gave him an explosive start to his career. The recent arrival of a top-of-the-range PHEV version should allow you to cast your net even wider. The plug-in hybrid is indeed the most powerful and most virtuous of the Tucsons… as long as you use it correctly.

We can reasonably call cardboard Hyundai Tucson. Quite unlike previous generations, which remained discreet, like almost all Korean productions. There, swarm! The Tucson even hoisted itself midsize SUV sales leader abroad, in France. Ahead of the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Ford Kuga, the Toyota RAV4… Not to the point of worrying our national Peugeot 3008, but placing a Hyundai among the 30 best French sellers last year was quite unexpected. Just under 18,000 copies were sold in 2021. The angled look, the atypical face (the grid is recognizable among a thousand) and the engines, all electrified to varying degrees (simple mild hybrid 48V or classic hybridization) is what pleases, obviously.

First tested at its launch as a classic, non-rechargeable hybrid, the Tucson was later made available as a PHEV. Almost every possible hybrid technology is now offered in the catalog.

Painless hybridization?

By itself, the mechanics of the Tucson PHEV do not advance anything very revolutionary. The 180hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo is well known and the architecture is classic. The 91 hp electric motor is coupled to the gearbox (6-speed, dual clutch), powered by a battery located partially under the trunk floor. This one is relatively generous: 13.8 kWh, in the good average of the niche but below the Kuga (14.4 kWh) and the RAV4 (18.1 kWh and almost 100 km announced!). Good news, the impact on the trunk is quite limited. Its capacity only loses about fifty liters and still has a respectable capacity of 558 l, with a flat floor. No impact to report on board other than the specific display and controls for selecting specific PHEV modes (all-electric or hybrid). We found the qualities of any Tucson (liability, finish and organized presentation)… and some criticism, especially regarding the ergonomics of the large screen of the media interface.


The slightly sportier presentation and the large rims of the N Line version further accentuate the Tucson’s look: rough cut, all angled… and unmissable with the imposing grille flanked by LEDs!

Good to know: anticipate the purchase and resale.

It is possible to know the resale or exchange value of your vehicle thanks to the Auto Turbo rating of your Hyundai Tucson, the alternative to the Argus rating.

When starting, full battery (there is about 5 hours of charging in a household outlet, 2 hours in a wall box), hardly any surprise. We evolved silently and smoothly into the usual rhythms of the highway. But strangely, heating or air conditioning on, impossible to maintain 100% electric mode permanently. During our test in winter conditions, the 4-cylinder wakes up at regular intervals on the road. It’s not really annoying in terms of approval: the soundproofing is advanced and transitions from one engine to another are fluid and carefully smoothed out. But it is difficult to accurately determine its real autonomy in all-electric mode, announced at 62 km. Realistic in the city… but a priori, no air conditioning!

A first contact in a more temperate climate allowed us to travel approximately 45 km on a mixed route, including part of the expressway. The system is quite effective, although the absence of a B-mode (to force recovery on engine braking) is unfortunate during high-relief routes. However, the all-electric range is satisfactory for everyday use.

Battery dead, the results are less flattering… as expected, with 2 tons to move! Your appetite then revolves around 7 l / 100 km on a mixed coursebut, nevertheless, it remains at a relatively contained level in the urban and peri-urban cycle: the frequent use of electrical energy (the battery always maintains a charge level that allows it) easily limits your appetite around 6 l / 100 km. As usual, avoid long highway trips… the least favorable terrain for PHEVs. And we can never repeat it enough, the overall balance of this type of engine can be really interesting, strictly complying with the daily recharge. It is quite possible (but very theoretical) to reach the advertised 1.4 l/100 km. On the contrary, leaving the charging cable stashed in the trunk and simply giving some lead-free to drink is the worst possible calculation. In this case, a Diesel will always be more economical (so ecological, even if it is scary).


TEST – Hyundai Tucson PHEV (2021): at your wit's end!

The handling remains healthy and efficient, the comfort of a good level despite the firm damping at low speeds. But it’s not a question of dynamism, with 2 tons to move. The Tucson, classic hybrid or PHEV, prefers a fluid ride.

265 hp and true all-wheel drive

In use, we will especially remember the proper functioning of this mechanism. It’s not really its performance wiser than expected, but with 265 hp available. In fact, this power is only delivered in Sport mode, with a full battery. Of course, one should not ask for a feat of a 4 cylinders of relatively modest displacement to move an SUV loaded with heavy batteries (not to mention charging-related peripherals). The relatively weak torque for a car of this size (350 Nm combined, despite everything) generates unpleasant thermal stresses, in strong recovery. Better to maintain a fluid conduct, without brutality, which suits him perfectly. In absolute terms, even if the available power seems much less generous than advertised, the performances remain of good quality and energetic enough for family use (8.2s from 0 to 100 km/h).

Finally, note that the Tucson thus handled is offered with HTRAC all-wheel drive only. Something that has become rare among generalists is a true permanent four-wheel drive, with a real mechanical connection. Furthermore, combining plug-in hybrid and all-wheel drive is even less common and usually the system is based on the addition of a second electric motor to the rear axle (in the Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4, for example). This technical choice also helps to explain their appetite, which quickly rises on strong orders… Let’s say it’s the counterpart of a relative versatility! Question motricity, efficiency is quite interesting off-road or in precarious conditions. Two specific driving modes are also offered, acting on traction control.


TEST – Hyundai Tucson PHEV (2021): at your wit's end!

The Tucson’s cockpit, techno and refined, benefits from a flattering finish. Large central display and digital instrumentation are standard. The leather/Alcântara upholstery is specific to the N Line finish.

Prices: champion of the price/equipment ratio

As always with Korean manufacturers, the range and options policy couldn’t be simpler: everything is standard! Even the on-call versions, which already have a very rich equipment (blind spot alert, lane keeping, reversing camera, GPS). Fortunately, because there’s nothing cheap in a Tucson. A fortiori in PHEV: the additional cost compared to the classic hybrid amounts to almost €4,000 (in HTRAC with 4WD) but therefore its starting price is €43,150 at the basic business level. As for our N Line version, a finish inspired by Hyundai’s sporty models, it carries its big 19-inch rims, its shields and its N-branded interior fittings (seats, logos) at an almost premium price: €50,450. At this price, the content is archicomplete (360º camera, level 2 semi-autonomous driving, blind spot cameras, ventilated/heated seats, etc.) and the price/equipment ratio is among the most attractive in the niche.

Notice that To take advantage of the €1,000 bonus enjoyed by plug-in hybrids below €50,000 you will have to be satisfied with the first two levels of equipment. Still on the tax front: the TVS exemption continues to be one of the great advantages of PHEVs for fleet managers.


TEST – Hyundai Tucson PHEV (2021): at your wit's end!

The batteries located in the bases, under the floor of the trunk, hardly penalize the total volume: we lost the double bottom, that is, approximately 50 l (from 558 to 1,737 l with the seat folded down).

Technical characteristics Hyundai Tucson PHEV (2021)

Hyundai Tucson PHEV (2021) Specifications
Model tested: Hyundai Tucson PHEV N Line Executive (2021)
Dimensions W x W x H 4,500 / 1,865 / 1.61m
Length between the axis 2,860m
Trunk minimum/maximum volume 558 l / 1,737 l
unloaded weight 1,999kg
engine displacement 4-cylinder gasoline, turbo + synchronous electric motor (91 hp) – 1,598 cc
Thermal/combined energy 180 hp / 265 hp
maximum combined torque 350Nm
0 to 100km/h 8.2 seconds
Maximum speed 191 km/h
CO2 rate 31g/km (WLTP)
Advertised battery capacity / electric range 13.8 kWh / 62 km (elevated distance, mixed: 45 km)
Advertised consumption (WLTP) 1.4 l / 100 km (high, mixed route, empty battery: 6.5 l)
2021 bonus Business / Creative: €1,000 (model tested: €0)
prices from €43,150 (tested model: €50,450)

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