You have to give Hyundai one thing: When it comes to alternative drives, nobody is more broadly positioned than the Koreans – regardless of whether it’s a mild hybrid, double heart, hydrogen or battery car. They even brought 800-volt architecture into the compact segment. This doesn’t look bad in the brand’s environmental balance sheet. Although every second Hyundai falls under the SUV category, 94.3 grams of CO2 in the German fleet average mean first place among the non-electric brands.
And because at one end Kona-Elektro and Ioniq find a lot of customers, at the other end there is also room for Tucson and Santa Fe – those long-legged companions that already have freedom and adventure in their names. Both are intended to convey the feeling that real heroes are still needed in the wild city west. But Hyundai has recently been luring even tough cowboys with plug-in hybrids.
However, the concept has recently fallen into disrepute. After all, it not only combines the best of both worlds, as they like to say in advertising, but also the evils of both. Tenor of the critics: Double technology costs money unnecessarily – and most of the time you either drive a superfluous combustion engine or a useless battery.
On the other hand, people like to talk about bridging technology, with the help of which one can at least pave the way for the notoriously far-scared Germans to enter e-mobility. Motto: Better partially with electricity on the way than not at all. Statistics support such considerations. After all, 95 percent of all daily journeys are less than 50 kilometers on average, and almost two-thirds are even less than ten. The best prerequisites for being on the road in battery mode as far as possible.
Politics has once again proven to be rather indecisive. Nobody really wants to know how many times the combustion chambers have actually closed. Tax privileges apply regardless of whether the car is moved even a single meter with electricity. Even the increased requirements for the purely electric radius – from 2022 it must be at least 60 kilometers, from 2025 even 90 – do not solve the structural problem.
Hyundai, however, still sees a lot of potential in plug-in models. After all, you want to continue to keep an eye on those who not only rarely have to cover long distances or like to travel with a trailer.
With the new Tucson plug-in (from 42.350 euros) Hyundai combines a 1.6-liter turbo petrol engine (180 hp) with a new electric motor (91 hp) for a system output of 265 hp. This makes it the strongest offshoot of the series. According to the WLTP standard, the 4.50 meter long all-wheel drive vehicle can cover up to 74 electric kilometers from the 13.8 kW battery in city traffic – but in everyday cross-country use, which is not entirely peaceful, you should calculate with just under 50 instead of the official 62. And with noticeably less, who often whips the almost two-ton car from a standstill to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds.
After all: Thanks to the standard on-board charger with 7.2 kilowatts, the complete filling of the charging station or wall box takes just over 100 minutes. At the home socket, however, six and a half hours pass.
The same drive configuration, including the six-speed automatic transmission to be controlled via pushbuttons, now also drives the thirty centimeters longer and almost 200 kilograms heavier flagship Santa Fe (from 55.750 euros). Due to the additional weight, it is only enough for a maximum of 69 kilometers in city mode, otherwise for 58. There is space for up to seven passengers, although as a child you have advantages in the third row. If you prefer to load, bring 570 liters into the luggage compartment – with the chairs folded, the Santa Fe packs away 1.65 cubic meters.
You can safely feel like you are at the sheriff’s side. Tucson and Santa Fe maintain speed, lane and distance, peer into cross traffic and blind spots, and drop anchor in an emergency. A small advantage of the big Santa Fe: With the appropriate equipment, it can be remotely controlled with a key in a parking space – and out again. There is little to complain about in terms of chassis and steering. At most, you are almost spoiled too much in the saddle and on the reins. However, comfort is appreciated when the ride takes longer.
A look towards the horizon shows where he is going at Hyundai. The company intends to present a dozen models for purely electric riders over the next four years, and from 2035 there should be – at least in Europe – only zero-emission cars. It should get lonely around the last oil princes..
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