Plug-ins here, plug-ins there, plug-ins blooming everywhere !
There’s more plug-in cars than you can shake a stick at & why not ? If you’re a company car driver the tax savings are massive. Take the Hyundai Tucson PHEV. With only 31g/km of CO2 emissions, it comes with Benefit in Kind of just 11%, meaning for a 20% tax payer, a annual outlay of just £925. And our latest test cars pretty good at other things as well, as we found out recently.
What is it ?
The Tucson is currently Hyundai’s best selling car in the UK. Launched back in 2004, it competes in the crowded market that is mid-range SUV’s, so is up against the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, KIA Sportage & Volkswagen Tiguan. The latest version offers customers a wide choice of powertrains including the new plug-in version we were testing. This features the same 1.6 litre GDi four-cylinder engine offered on the larger Santa Fe plug-in.
Choose from N Line, N Line S, Connect, Premium or Ultimate. And from three powertrains; 1.6 TGDi 150ps petrol, 230ps Hybrid, or 261ps plug-in electric hybrid.
Engine & performance
We were testing the plug-in hybrid electric version which combines a 1.6-litre GDi four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with a 90bhp electric motor. Whilst the power is there, 350Nm’s of torque, it’s almost half a tonne heavier than the standard Tucson hybrid, weighing in at 1924 kg. So, the 0-62mph time of 8.6 seconds is a full second slower then that model.
Electric range, mpg & charging
The Tucson’s electric driving range is 31 miles , which is about par for the class with only Toyotas RAV4 going significantly further. Using your home 7kWh charger, the battery takes around 2 hours to charge thanks to it’s 7.2kW on board charger. Our advice as always is to invest in a home charger & plug in whenever you can. We recommend Rolec; http://www.rolecserv.com/home-charging
All models get as standard, alloy wheels, cruise control, front & rear electric windows, parking sensors, roof rails, SatNav & traction control. Our Ultimate test car featured, 19″ alloys, a panoramic sunroof, electric seats, a heated steering wheel, KRELL premium audio with 8 speakers + subwoofer, front & rear USB’s, an electric tailgate, a wireless phone charging pad & a Tech Pack, containing; Electronic Control Suspension (ECS), Around View Monitor (AVM), Blind Spot View Monitor (BVM), Remote Smart Park Assist (RSPA) & Parking Collision Avoidance Assist (PCA).
DAB, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto are also present. Ultimate also comes with Bluelink Connected Car Services & a 5 year subscription. Adaptive cruise control with stop/go function, smart key with keyless entry, start/stop. rear parking system with rear camera & guidance system are also offered.
Aggressive looks include parametric hidden lights, which house indicators & five eye-like LED lights, only visible when they’re turned on. There’s also the Hyundai cascading grille at the front & the rear hatch has a thin strip light running right across its length, finished off by twin corner lamps.
Tucson features an all-new redesigned dashboard with a standard 10.25” infotainment system & 10.25” supervision instrument cluster. It’s all nicely put together & features some nice soft touch finishes. Even the plastic located lower down, is of good quality.
The gears are changed via three buttons located between the front seats; Reverse, Neutral & Drive & it’s here that you can select the cars driving modes as well.
The 10.25″ touchscreen infotainment system comes with SatNav, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. This sits central on the cars dashboard, making it easy to reach. The graphics are clear & sharp, with most functions easy to use. Steering wheel controls allow you to check on the cars progress, fuel economy, set cruise control or toggle between the media functions.
Two central cup holders, a glove box, 2 large door pockets, under armrest storage & a wireless phone pad are located up front. Twin USB’s, separate heating controls & a fold down armrest in the rear. The rear door pockets though are tiny.
The plug-in comes with a decent enough 558 litre boot, only about 70 litres less than the standard petrol version. You also get a handy flat boot floor & space underneath for storing the two charging cables. If you fold down the rear seats the boot space increases to a very useful 1,737 litres. My gravel bike was a perfect fit.
On the road
Although this Tucson is heavy, the battery weight doesn’t really affect the ride. Even over poor road surfaces, the suspension copes well. The electric motor gives excellent throttle response & you’ll find that you can overtake with confidence. Whilst the six-speed automatic gear box makes driving easier, when pushed hard, the engine can become quite noisy, but, it’s much better than Toyota’s CVT transmission.
We drove along the A68 in County Durham, which is a winding up & down route across the North Pennines. The Tucson handles the road with aplomb. There’s plenty of grip & the precise steering makes short work of the road ahead. There was enough power on offer to safely overtake a tractor when required.
On the motorway, the plug-in is a comfortable cruiser & by utilising Hyundai’s version of adaptive cruise control, Hyundai Highway Drive Assist with Level Two autonomous tech, which keeps the car in lane & sets up a safe distance to the vehicle in front, you can let the car do the hard work for you. An added bonus is that there’s little in the way of wind & tyre noise entering the car, so you reach your journeys end relaxed.
Driving modes & fuel economy
The driving mode you select, will shape the cars economy too. Choose from Sport, Smart or Eco, all self explanatory. With an eye on fuel economy, we drove mostly in Eco, including a 400 mile around trip to Northumberland. Even in Eco, the Tucson performs admirably & unlike the larger, heavier, Santa Fe fitted with the same power unit, the Tucson’s more fun, lighter & faster as well.
Overall, after a week & 500 miles of mixed motoring, we returned a very healthy 50.5 mpg, which for us is as good as it gets & around 10mpg better than we have achieved in similar plug-ins. The trick as always with a plug-in hybrid, is to plug-in at home until you’re fully charged. Then utilise the electric range for urban stop-start driving, whilst choosing petrol only for the motorway or similar.
The Tucson PHEV gave us the best plug-in mid range SUV fuel economy we’ve ever had. There’s 11% BIK on offer across the PHEV range. All models feature great tech & plenty of safety functions. It’s aggressive looks make it stand out from the competition & the quality user-friendly interior, is one of the best there is.
The plug-in Tucson, is expensive compared to petrol & self charging versions. But, most customers will lease this model through work.
With a raft of similar plug-in mid-range SUV’s to choose from, we felt that the Tucson PHEV, currently pips all the others to the post. Not only does it stand out in a crowd, it features on-trend tech, it’s comfortable, spacious, quiet & refined on the road as well. Furthermore, all Hyundais come with a five-year warranty & you’ll not want for any safety features either. For company car drivers, the low BIK is a bonus & makes this version the one to choose.
What impressed us most though, was the +50mpg return we achieved, which for a heavy-ish, five door, mid-range SUV was exceptional !