AFTER a few hours at the wheel it is easy to see why the Hyundai Tucson became the fastest-selling Hyundai car in the UK and across Europe since its market launch last September.
The Tucson rapidly racked up more than 10,000 orders and has not stopped since overtaking the award-winning i10 as the fastest-selling Hyundai model launch in the UK.
The Tucson represents significant step forward for Hyundai in Europe and features a bold styling allied to a refined interior with amazingly generous cabin space, thanks to some very clever packaging.
The 2.0 CRDI diesel version I drove imparted a smoothness of operation which is worthy of more expensive German counterparts.
This quality is underpinned by a chassis designed for Europe, focused on ride comfort and driving dynamics.
This compact SUV is changing perceptions of the Hyundai brand in Britain and has been built to introduce the brand to a wide range of new customers who may not have considered Hyundai before.
The brand came to the UK in the mid-1970s with the Pony, a bargain basement car that, like the Russian Lada, had no street cred whatsoever, but brought new car ownership to many who would never have otherwise achieved a set of brand new wheels on the driveway.
But how things have changed. The Tucson, like others of the range commands a lot of second glances and is a very desirable car to own.
Hyundai has achieved an enviable reputation in the SUV market, starting with the Santa Fe of 2000.
Technology and connectivity are also the Tucson's strongpoints. The centre console is fitted with a large, non-reflective eight-inch display screen for the new-generation navigation system, which is more than three times faster than the previous version.
It also has more route options with quickly updated map material stored on an SD card. The new navigation system comes with a seven-year free subscription to TomTom LIVE services including traffic, speed camera alerts and weather information.
The navigation system can suggest the best routes not only on the trip distance but also on the time needed to get to the final destination. TomTom Traffic provides accurate information about traffic jams, roadworks and delivers a trustworthy estimated time of arrival.
A new DAB+ digital radio with six audio speakers is standard across the range. Further connectivity is provided through USB and AUX connections in the centre console.
The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine features a low inertia single-scroll turbocharger delivering 136ps and 373Nm of maximum torque at 1,500 - 2,500rpm.