WE constantly hear all about the so-called off-road capabilities of the soft-road compact SUVs that are flooding the market at the moment, but we rarely get the opportunity to put them to the test.
However, that rare opening developed unexpectedly during my drive behind the wheel of the new Hyundai Tucson.
Now I say new, but some may already be familiar with the Tucson name as it was part of the Hyundai line-up until 2009. It was replaced by the ix35 and now in a turnaround of fate the Tucson has replaced the ix35.
It's a striking looking vehicle with eye-catching design cues such as 19-inch alloys, body-coloured bumpers, front and rear skid plates, twin exhausts, body coloured door handles and mirrors, a rear spoiler with integrated brake light, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass, fog lights, roof rails and plenty more beside.
It would be fair to say in a world where the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and newly-introduced Renault Kadjar are vying for SUV sales, the Tucson can easily hold its own in the styling stakes â¦ and more.
And so it was that I ventured off to the Goodwood Festival of Speed in my pristine Tucson with its Moon Rock coloured paintwork.
The festival coincided with Glastonbury which was deemed one of the wettest ever and it meant that in order to reach car parking spaces I had to manoeuvre the car across one of the boggiest fields imaginable - more like a quagmire if I'm being truthful.
Numerous cars were becoming trapped and the deep mud ruts were getting more difficult to tackle by the minute.
However, after engaging the Tucson's Lock AWD mode it conquered the 600 metre track without any major issues.
It did slip and slide a little, but there was certainly no drama to speak of and I could watch on with delight as the Land Rovers pulled out the motionless cars and helpless yet embarrassed drivers along the way.
So I can definitely vouch for the capabilities of the Tucson, but it offers so much more.
The interior is very classy and packed with technology with the likes of an eight-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity, a six speaker sound system, dual zone climate control, leather trimmed seats that can be heated and electrically adjusted and plenty more besides.
This car was powered by a 2.0-litre 136ps diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
It can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 10.9 seconds, tops out at 114mph and can achieve a claimed combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg with carbon emissions of 139g/km.
The handling is beautifully agile for a vehicle of its size and there is very little road surface, engine or wind noise to be heard within the cabin. In addition, corners can be approached at a reasonable speed too as there is no body roll and the sure-footed road holding and direct steering will keep you firmly on course.
All-round comfort levels are high with ample space for three adults in the rear. And Hyundai has ensured all storage concerns are catered for with a good-sized boot with a 488-litre capacity that is easily increased to 1,478 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat.
Elsewhere there is a deep glovebox, sunglasses holder, cup holders, (two in the rear armrest too), a central bin and practical door pockets.
The driver benefits from a high seated position and excellent all-round visibility which is a notable plus factor in a family car and the Tucson is also packed with a comprehensive list of safety features which helped it achieve the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings.