Hyundai Tucson vs Nissan Qashqai – the mini-SUV showdown
The soft-roading SUV market has never been so hotly competed. Everybody’s vying for a slice of the pie; the Renault, VW, Seat, Honda and many of the other major manufacturers are all pouring massive resources into developing the most appealing crossover. They know that Irish buyers love the crossover’s bulky body shape and lofty driving position, twinned with small car dynamics and an agreeable price tag.
They’re too late to the party. This market has long been dominated by the first crossover on the scene: the formidable Nissan Qashqai. Or at least – it was. Because the reimagined Hyundai Tucson has taken Ireland by storm, selling in droves and going on to become, just 2 years after its official launch, the country’s best-selling car. Now, it’s had a facelift – and it’s ready to give the Qashqai a serious run for its money.
But which one should you buy? On paper, at least, there’s little to set them apart. Both are small, family-orientated SUVs. Both look as at home outside a posh restaurant as they do atop a rugged hill. Both come with a whole raft of snazzy new features for 2017.
When you dig a little deeper, however, some differences begin to emerge.
The style might be subjective – but most potential buyers will agree that the Tucson’s sculpted curves & muscular profile trounce the Qashqai’s more conservative lines. When it sits on the (optional) 19-inch alloys, the Tucson couldn’t look more ready for action, while the Qashqai looks almost too refined, too grown-up. Viewed side-on, the Tucson looks sportier too, thanks to elegant contour lines that flow the length of the body.
It’s a close call, but the Qashqai just about clinches it on this front. It’s a good effort from the Tucson; like the Qashqai, it boasts dozens of new features to keep its occupants safer than ever on the road.
Both cars include lane departure warning systems to alert you when you’re straying out of line. Both will step in to prevent you rolling backwards on a tough hill. Both will help you park, both will detect any blind spots around you, and both will brake autonomously in the event of an emergency. And both, in their higher-spec trims, will keep you toasty on a wintry morning with heated seats.
The Qashqai, though, offers a couple of toys the Tucson doesn’t, like traffic sign recognition, intelligent ride control and intelligent 4 wheel drive.
When it comes to infotainment, the Japanese system is more capable, thanks to its compatibility with various smartphone apps, but the South Korean system is nicer to use, thanks to its bigger 8” colour touchscreen.
This one of the Tucson’s big wins. Space is crucial to buyers looking for a car of this kind, and they’ll be taken by the Tucson’s generous 513 litres of boot space compared to the Nissan’s 430. That’s thanks to the wider body found on the Tucson, although owners are unlikely to see any differences in terms of ease of parking. The Nissan has a clever “secret space” under the floor of the boot to stash your valuables – although given that they’re shouting all about it, it probably isn’t that secret.
The Qashqai’s rear seats can be folded 70/30 or down all the way, increasing the cargo capacity to up to 860 litres – but the Tucson, seats flat, can accommodate a staggering 1503 litres of stuff. That’s a lot of stuff.
Here we go. The biggie. The game-changer. Hyundai’s Tucson Comfort Petrol, the most affordable, comes in at €26,245. Which is a whopping €1,725 less than the cheapest Qashqai, which costs €27,970. Or an entire family holiday more expensive, to put it in other words. If you want all the bells and whistles on your Qashqai, you’ll need to fork out €34,320 – considerably more than the Tucson Premium, which is almost identically well equipped and sets you back €32,995.
Running costs are going to be agreeable in both cars; 100km will really set you back a little over 4.5 litres of fuel depending on your driving style and which engine you opt for. The Tucson also comes with Hyundai’s legendary unlimited mileage warranty, which protects you for five years compared to the Nissan warranty’s three years.
The bottom line
Deciding between two of Ireland’s most popular cars isn’t easy. Working out which is best requires a game of top trumps – and that’s when you see that, for the typical mini-SUV buyer, Hyundai’s offering is just that little bit stronger. It’s cheaper, better looking and boasts a vastly bigger load space. The Nissan’s slightly better equipped, but you’ll get almost as many toys in the Hyundai – and with the peace of mind of a five-year warranty.
In short – there’s a reason the Tucson, not the Qashqai, became Ireland’s best-selling car. That’s not likely to change anytime soon.
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