CAPE TOWN – By now, you would probably have read our driving impression of the subtly facelifted Hyundai Creta. Well, we also had the chance to sample the updated Tucson on the day.

When we jumped out of the Creta into the Tucson 1,6 TGDi Elite 7DCT, it quickly became clear where the extra money went. Apart from the fact that it is larger, the Tucson also feels more upmarket than the Creta. Hard plastics make way for materials of a softer nature, while the turbopetrol engine connected to the quick-shifting (a pleasant surprise in manual mode) dual-clutch transmission feels more modern in its operation than the older free-breathing unit in the cheaper Creta.

On dirt roads, the Tucson furthermore exhibits better sound-insulation and the chassis is more composed over the rough stuff at speed. While the Tucson is a comfortable cruiser, its lively 130 kW turbocharged mill also provides more than sufficient punch to overtake safely at motorway speeds.

The fully independent suspension at the rear of the Tucson is part of the reason it feels more "planted" than the Creta (which makes do with a torsion beam arrangement). A spirited drive back over Franschhoek Pass on the return journey shows that there is some driving fun to be had, if one keeps in mind the limits of an SUV platform.

What's new?

As with the Creta, the changes are mostly cosmetic, and include new light clusters, fresh bumpers and a new interpretation of the grille, as well as restyled exhaust outlets and updated wheel designs. Inside, you'll now find a new, free-standing infotainment display of the touchscreen variety. Still, some buyers may find the interior layout a bit busy compared with some opposition vehicles, such as the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Range changes

The range has also been tweaked locally, with the flagship 1,6-litre Turbo Elite AWD and 1,7-litre CRDi Executive both falling away. This leaves the 2,0-litre naturally aspirated engine, the 2,0-litre turbodiesel and the 1,6-litre turbopetrol. All but the base model feature automatic transmissions (interestingly, the diesel powerplant gains a new eight-speed torque converter gearbox).

If you were a fan of the "Sport" model (complete with its aggressive styling package, quad-pipes and a power upgrade), don't fret as Hyundai has promised that a new kit will be imported to fit the facelifted models early in 2019. The firm quickly sold out the previous allocation of 600 units.

Summary

The Tucson is still a decent looking vehicle that will handle the overwhelming majority of family needs. It's a pity that the 1,7-turbodiesel powertrain option is no more, but the range now offers even more standard specification across the board. And don't forget that Hyundai includes an impressive seven-year/200 000 km warranty for peace of mind on all its products...

Author: Nicol Louw