Hyundai Motor Company's Tucson PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid) showed its outstanding marketability in Europe. In the recent plug-in hybrid SUV comparison test conducted by three big German auto magazines - Auto Zeitung (AZ), Auto Motor und Sport (AMS), and Auto Bild (AB) - Tucson took first place. Moreover, this comparison test was more intense because the competitors were globally beloved models of Europe and Japan with excellent marketability.
As we all know, Germany is a country that produces a lot of automobiles, so consumers, as well as the media, are very picky. In particular, the comparison test of the same class in the German automobile media not only conducts a test drive but also examines the vehicle from multiple perspectives with strict standards. Also, C-segment plug-in hybrid SUVs such as the Tucson PHEV are currently the trending models in Europe; This is because it has a size and shapes with excellent usability, and as the emission gas regulations in Europe have been strengthened recently, a strong consensus has been formed between automakers and consumers to reduce CO2 emissions. For this reason, a lot of PHEVs have been recently released in the C-SUV market.
Currently, in the European C-segment plug-in hybrid SUV market, automakers from Germany, the UK, France, and Japan are competing fiercely. What is the secret that Tucson took first place in a comparison test of three German auto magazines - all famous for their high standards? First, the advantages of the Tucson mentioned by the three magazines are excellent steering, balanced driving performance, excellent braking power, longest EV mode mileage, and perfect NVH performance. The strengths of Tucson mentioned by each magazine were slightly different, though. Here are the details of the test results of AZ, AMS, and AB, comparing a variety of the latest plug-in hybrid SUVs.
AZ conducted comparison tests in October with Tucson, Peugeot 3008 (Hybrid 4 300E), Volkswagen Tiguan (1.4T e-Hybrid), and Opel Grandland (Hybrid 4). All three models are popular models in Europe. The Tiguan is a benchmark that shows European driving characteristics, the 3008 has good light handling that only the Peugeot brand can show, and the Opel Grandland has strong practicality and basics. All four models, including the Tucson, feature a combination of a four-cylinder gasoline engine and a plug-in hybrid system.
According to AZ, Tucson's advantages include efficient and robust driving performance - the longest EV mode mileage, excellent braking force and traction, and excellent steering feel - as well as practicality unmatched among C-SUVs, such as wide rear seats, ample trunk, and excellent payload capacity. In addition, AZ spoke highly of Tucson's infotainment system and easy control of various convenience features.
What is notable in the AZ test is that Tucson drew more favorable reviews than the Tiguan and 3008, which are known for superior performance in driving characteristics. It beat European models in the market, which favors light and agile handling. This is not only thanks to the Hyundai Motor Group's third-generation platform featuring a robust body and low center of gravity design, but also the result of careful design and assembly of all parts such as the Tucson's powertrain and suspension.
If so, what about the ratings for each category? The comparative test of Germany's leading automobile media such as AZ, AMS, and AB mainly evaluates the competitors based on four main categories - 'body (indoor space size and composition)', 'powertrain (power performance)', 'comfort (seat comfort and ride comfort)', 'driving characteristics', plus ‘environment’ referring to fuel economy and CO2 emissions, and ‘cost’, which examines purchase and maintenance costs combined together.
According to AZ, Tucson took first place in driving characteristics and environment/cost, winning the test with 3,057 points. Even excluding the environment/cost category, Tucson's total score is 54 points higher than Tiguan, which is in second place (Tucson 2,670 points, Tiguan 2,616 points). For reference, AZ gave Tucson the highest score in most of the categories in driving characteristics - such as handling, steering, straight-line driving, cold braking performance, and traction.
Prior to AZ's test, Tucson, Tiguan, and 3008 were in AMS's plug-in hybrid SUV comparison test released in August. However, instead of Opel's Grandland, AMS used Audi's Q3 Sportback (45 TFSI e), one of Germany's premium-brand models. Like other competitors, the Q3 is equipped with a plug-in hybrid system and has undergone rigorous testing under equal conditions.
However, AMS gave Tucson high marks in many categories, including a quiet engine, stable driving feel, smooth ride, excellent NVH performance, excellent finish, and material quality, and spacious passenger seats and trunk. The fact that the magazine preferred Tucson to Audi Q3 and the Tiguan and 3008, which are famous for excellent driving and practicality in the European market, proves the value of the model.
For reference, unlike AZ and AB, AMS tests categories such as driving aids and braking performance separately in the ‘safety’ section. According to AMS, Tucson won with 652 points after fierce competition with the Audi Q3 (637 points, second place). Among the seven categories, the Tucson took the lead in four categories including body, powertrain, driving characteristics, and cost, while the Audi Q3 took the lead in two categories including safety and comfort; and the two models scored a tie in the environment category.
Just like AZ, AMS also gave Tucson the highest score in driving characteristics such as driving dynamics, steering, traction, straight-line driving, driving stability, and cold braking performance (100km/h → 0).
Last July's plug-in hybrid C-SUV comparison test conducted by AB included two models that AZ and AMS did not- British premium brand Land Rover's Discovery Sport (P300e AWD), and Toyota's flagship model, the RAV4 (2.5 PHEV 4x4). Here are the details of the evaluation Tucson received between the famous premium SUV and the Japanese SUV with excellent completeness and popularity.
First of all, the AB - just like the AZ and AMS - mentioned the balanced driving performance, excellent steering, and excellent braking power as advantages. In addition, AB highly evaluated Tucson's stylish interior and practical cabin space. It is to admit that Tucson has got all the strengths - the premium model Discovery Sport, RAV4 with its marketability, and the 3008, with its light handling and practicality.
Of course, AZ, AMS, AB, and other media also mentioned Tucson's weaknesses - low system torque, insufficient EV mode acceleration, inability to adjust the regenerative braking, small fuel tank, etc. However, they had nothing to do with mobility, practicality, and efficiency, which are characteristics that a plug-in hybrid C-SUV must possess.
Unlike the other two magazines, AB evaluates ‘connectivity’, which checks smartphone connectivity, audio and navigation performance, and completeness of voice recognition. In AB's test, Tucson took second place with just less than 3 points in all other categories except for powertrains - such as body, comfort, driving characteristics, connectivity, and the environment - while ranked first in the cost category. As a result, Tucson won with 543 points.
What is noteworthy here is that it competed fiercely with the British premium SUV Discovery Sport (2nd place, 516 points) in almost all categories. Although Tucson widened the gap with Discovery Sports in terms of cost, Tucson recorded 480 points, three points ahead of Discovery Sports in the total score excluding expenses. In other words, Tucson took first place just for the vehicle itself.
Tucson's winning in this comparative test implies several things; Tucson has been perfected more and more with each generation - with its unconventional styling, innovative technology, and outstanding perfection. It is also notable that these three tests were all to evaluate plug-in hybrids, which are currently the most pragmatic eco-friendly models. Hyundai Motor Company is proving itself in the global eco-friendly auto market and hopes it lasts even after this evaluation in Germany.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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