Kings of the urban jungle: Hyundai Tucson v Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai has been the king of the crossover SUV market for longer than we care to remember, but up-and-coming Korean manufacturer Hyundai is hoping to steal away the crown with its new Tucson.
We put the two head-to-head to find out whether the Tucson really can beat its established rival.
Car design is so subjective that it’s difficult to pick a winner – your preference may be very different to ours – but it is worth noting just how attractive both cars look.
It wasn’t so long ago that SUVs were boxy old beasts seemingly designed on an Etch-a-Sketch, but modern 4x4 design has come on in leaps and bounds.
Some won’t be great fans of the Hyundai’s gaping grille, but we don’t mind a bit of a rugged look from something with off-road pretentions. The rest of the car isn’t exactly sexy, but it’s a smart and classy design that’s a vast improvement on the fussy ix35.
The Qashqai, though, is the looker here. It looks sleek, lithe and taut thanks to its curvaceous bonnet and front wings, while the muscular haunches give an impression of athleticism. We also suspect that the Qashqai’s appeal is a tad more unisex than the rufty-tufty Tucson’s.
Our Tucson came in top-of-the-line SE Premium trim, which included toys like satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control, heated seats and a panoramic sunroof, as well as quite sumptuous leather seats, which made it a pleasant place to be, but for a couple of small gripes.
A few areas of cheap-feeling switchgear let the Tucson down, especially in higher-spec cars which have so much equipment and such a lofty asking price.
That said, the Qashqai isn’t perfect either. Again, our test car was a top-of-the-range Tekna model with all the mod cons, but a few swathes of mediocre plastic give it a slightly cheap feel.
Aside from a couple of material quality issues, though, both cars seem relatively well stuck together, and the technology on show is to be marvelled at. The Qashqai boasts the 360-degree Around View parking camera, but the Tucson’s infotainment system is the better all-round unit, with crystal-clear graphics and excellent usability.
Practicality is one of the key reasons for choosing a car like this, though, and the larger Hyundai shines on that front too. Its 488-litre boot is a substantial 58 litres larger than that of the Qashqai, and there’s more room for passengers.
That shouldn’t be seen as a slight on the ever-popular Nissan – a spacious and practical car in its own right – but more a testament to just how roomy the Hyundai is.
On the road
As you might expect, both these cars are comfortable and feel fairly substantial from behind the wheel, but the Qashqai takes the plaudits for being the best drive.
The way it soaks up the bumps is almost uncanny, and there’s just the right amount of weight to the steering – it strikes a great balance between feeling solid and agile.
For all that though, neither car is a handling sensation. The Qashqai’s relatively well-controlled body roll makes it marginally more appealing for a B-road blast, but it is held back slightly by a loose manual gearshift.
The Tucson, on the other hand, has a slightly more accurate transmission, but the steering is numb and the ride is just a tiny bit more jarring than the Qashqai’s.
Despite being direct competitors, these two cars have remarkably differing engine ranges.
The Qashqai’s petrol engines comprise 1.2- and 1.6-litre turbocharged engines, while the diesel engine range is limited to a 1.5-litre fleet-friendly unit and a more powerful 1.6. The Hyundai, meanwhile, gets a 1.6-litre petrol and diesels of 1.7 or 2.0 litres.
The only comparable engines, then, are the Qashqai’s range-topping 1.6-litre diesel and the Tucson’s relatively lowly 1.7.
Both return 61.4mpg, but the Hyundai will return 119g/km CO2 emissions compared to the Nissan’s 120g/km. It doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but that 1g/km is enough to put the Qashqai into the 24% company car tax bracket while the Tucson remains in the 23% band.
That said, the 1.6-litre Qashqai is more powerful than the 1.7-litre Tucson, and the 1.5-litre Qashqai is the undisputed king if all you care about is economy.
The Tucson edges ahead in terms of lease rates though, with the mid-range 1.7-litre diesel SE Nav model averaging £198 per month on a three-year business lease. Private customers get a good deal too, although VAT bumps that rate up to around £240 a month.
In comparison, the similarly mid-range 1.5-litre Acenta Premium Qashqai will average about £218 a month on a three-year business lease deal, while similar personal deals will average £251 a month.
The Tucson is a worthy addition to this segment, but though the Hyundai is great in some ways, the ever-popular Qashqai is good in every way.