THE message is loud and clear to other SUV makers - watch out...there's a new Tucson about.
Hyundai's fourth generation Tucson is a bold breakaway from the typical bland high-riders that are churned out by a growing number of manufacturers, and a far cry from earlier Hyundai crossovers that majored on modest pricing.
The nose, for example, with its massive grille covering the lights looks like something from a concept car, while the rear has bulging wheelarches and sharp panel creases. Exciting stuff.
As well as looking much more racy, and having a posher cabin, it bristles with technology including various stages of electrification. Prices range from £28,000 to £37,000, more than four grand dearer than the outgoing model.
Our car was the T-GDi Hybrid Ultimate which, with the help of a 1.49kWh battery and 59bhp electric motor, knocks out a not insubstantial 227bhp. This translates into brisk outright acceleration and heft torque, allowing the new Tucson to reach 62mph in eight seconds.
Significantly, the useful performance isn't at the expense of fuel consumption which averaged, in our hands, 44mpg.
A six speed auto box is standard issue on this model and works well providing a smooth flow of power and gear changes that you barely notice. Unusually, instead of a selector or lever, there are centrally mounted buttons for Driver, Park or Reverse. Steering wheel paddles allow greater control. Most models sold in UK are two-wheel drive, as was the test car.
Ride comfort strikes the right balance between comfort and sportiness by soaking up most undulations without sogginess. Cornering is pleasantly roll-free, a definite plus for a high-rider. There's, perhaps, not quite sufficient vertical movement to iron out deeper potholes but, by and large, the ride is well resolved.
Though power assisted, the steering still possesses a degree of feel and is decently weighted, emphasising the car's driver appeal. It wins praise for being one of the best handling models of its type.
Only if you cling onto the revs is there any sign of harshness from the 1.6litre petrol engine. At cruising speeds it's whisper quiet.
With a length of 4.5metres, it's among the larger mid-size SUVs with a roomy cabin which can easily carry five adults. The boot is also particularly spacious at 616litres.
In keeping with the upmarket looks of the exterior, the cabin is classy, restrained and well finished. The 10.25inch infotainment centre is easy to operate and works well - although our sat nav twice got us a lost!
We liked added safety feature of a side rear view flashing up on the fascia dials when an indicator is activated - great when overtaking on a motorway to gain a glimpse of what's following. The external rear view mirrors remain, of course .
There's plenty of space for oddments in the front but the door pockets are too narrow for bulky items.
The Ultimate version - priced at Â£37k - comes with all the trinkets including heated front and rear seats, 19-inch alloys, rear side window blinds, panoramic opening sunroof, power tailgate and three-zone climate control.