Hyundai's compact crossover becomes more accomplished after a mid-life makeover
Hyundai Tucson with verve, more accomplished after a mid-life makeover The latest Hyundai Tucson is immensely energetic and exudes boundless verve at the wheel. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Compact crossovers are like potato crisps - despite an endless variety, most of them taste about the same.

And like crisps, you can't quite get enough of them.

The latest Hyundai Tucson was introduced two years ago and just received a mid-life facelift. With a 1.6-litre turbo, seven-speed dual-clutch variant, the South Korean model - between the size of a Honda Vezel and CR-V - is on par with many of the German choices available today.

The car is immensely energetic, even if the performance specifications are nothing really to shout about. At the wheel, its exudes boundless verve, even if it occasionally betrays some turbo lag.

The 1.6T is driven by the same 1.6-litre turbo engine as before. But Hyundai claims engine friction has been reduced and the load on the alternator - which supplies electrical power to the car - has also been reduced.

Programming of the dual-clutch gearbox has also been tweaked.

All these translate to an improvement in acceleration as well as overall fuel economy.

On the performance front, it is believable. The Tucson moves like a caffeinated puppy. So much so that at times, the brakes feel like they should be beefed up.

But on the consumption front, any improvement is less obvious. On the go, the car averages 9 litres/ 100km - not shoddy, but not fantastic either.

As with all manufacturers these days, Hyundai resorts to equipping its cars with more and more gadgets to keep them relevant.

For the Tucson, the most obvious change on this front is a tablet-style infotainment system sitting atop a new centre stake console. On this touchscreen, you will find Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - indispensable for the wired generation.

A wireless smartphone charger, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with built-in compass and a USB charger for rear passengers are some of the other new toys.

Leather upholstery, air-conditioning vents and the instrument cluster have also been redesigned. These give the car a more premium and contemporary feel. Six airbags and cruise control are now standard issue across all versions as well.

As before, the car comes with three drive modes - Eco, Normal and Sport. Normal is more than adequate for any situation in Singapore.

But what is a facelift without a facelift?

On the exterior, the Tucson wears a new grille, with headlights sporting daytime-running LEDs, and rear LED lamps.

A shark-fin antenna and restyled 17-inch wheels complete the refreshed look.

The top-of-the line variant tested here comes with a panoramic sunroof, blindspot detection, full LED headlamps and a hands-free tailgate.

The car is priced slightly lower than its less generously equipped equivalent two years ago. At $121,999, it is also substantially cheaper than a similarly sized and equipped Volkswagen Tiguan.

And really, when it comes down to the crunch, both are just as palatable, with the VW offering perhaps more refinement.