Hyundai has revealed the first images of its new-generation Tucson medium SUV, and it's set to take the fight right up to its front-running rivals from Mazda and Toyota.
An incredible screen array and bold exterior cues point to a quantum leap for the Tucson, which has trailed in the sales race.
The radical new design highlights, for example, include a new signature headlamp architecture called ‘Parametric Hidden Lights', with daytime running lights seamlessly integrated into the grille and only revealed when they are turned on.
A rear LED light bar stretches the width of the tailgate (below), with prominent prismatic taillights finishing the look.
The new Tucson’s body is bigger and wider than previous-generation models, sporting a long bonnet and short overhangs, along with chiselled lines that give it a coupe-like character.
There’s little in the way of mechanical detail about the Tucson, save that it will be offered in both short- and long-wheelbase versions; expect the next Tucson, then, to be offered in five-seat and five-plus-two seat configurations, a la the Volkswagen Tiguan and Tiguan Allspace.
Inside, the new Tuscon features a dual-cockpit layout and an elongated dash which seamlessly flows into the doors, with a large, cascading central screen that dominates the centre console (below).
It will adopt the same flat-button automatic transmission switches that feature in the new Sonata and Palisade, and will likely be the beneficiary of Hyundai's new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission on certain models.
No word on powertrains, but like the 2019 Hyundai SUV Concept on which it’s based, it's likely to offer a hybrid version alongside front- and all-wheel-drive variants.
Given these stunning looks and this amount of tech, we'd guess that prices will likely rise, too.
We’ll know more on September 15 when the 2021 Tucson is revealed on a global live stream.
High hopes for new Tucson
The Tucson is currently the fourth-best seller in the medium SUV category and only a handful of sales behind the Nissan X-Trail, which itself trails the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5, but Hyundai’s product planning manager Andrew Tuatahi has previously expressed confidence the next Tucson will move the game forward for the company.
“It can't come soon enough,” he told WhichCar late in 2019. “It's very interesting visually, it's going to appeal to a very broad audience, I think. Probably the biggest shift for the car is going to be style and design.
"Expect to see materials more in line with the Santa Fe [below] across the Tucson range. We'll introduce some new elements with our material design in terms of layout and configuration, things like entertainment and [instrument] clusters will be quite different in that vehicle.”
The surge of the SUV has shifted slightly away from the ‘everyday’ mid-sized SUV in favour of more compact crossovers and premium-brand products, but Tuatahi reckons Hyundai has the right answers.
“So much has happened since we launched the current generation,” he said. “I think right now it feels like it's the oldest car in the segment, but it's only three and half/four years old. It's amazing. But yeah, there have been some shifts in terms of expectations.”
Safety basics have moved a long way in three years and Tuatahi confirmed that the new Tucson will reflect those change.
“There have been two fundamental NCAP changes in terms of scoring criteria since we've launched that car and we've gone from your minimum requirement being stability, control and a couple of safety technologies through to compulsory autonomous emergency braking,” he said.
“For the next year, you're going to need a centre [air]bag and cross junction and collision avoidance.”
Though Tuatahi wouldn’t be drawn on which platform the Tucson would be based upon, it’s almost certain that the company’s new Third Generation Platform will underpin the new car, which opens the possibility for the addition of a variety of hybrid-assisted drivetrains, as well as front- and all-wheel-drive options.