Good score likely for affected Tucson owners?

Hyundai New Zealand suggests customers who bought the latest Tucson before it adopted an engineering revision that has lifted the model’s safety score won’t be left feeling shortchanged.


OWNERS of Hyundai Tucson crossovers lacking an engineering upgrade that now improves the model’s crash test safety score should not be shy in coming forward to the brand about any concerns they might have.

This assurance has come from Cory Gordon, Hyundai Motors New Zealand national marketing manager.

Speaking in the wake of the car’s score having this week been improved to a maximum five stars, from four previously, he says his Auckland-based company has maintained contact with customers who are driving examples determined to be worthy of the lower rating.

“We have not tried to shy away from this. We have not tried to hide anything.”

He has told Motoring Network he is happy to hear from, and help out, any owners who might now fear the car they own might not have the integrity of the latter lookalike examples.

Asked what HMNZ would do in event of one of those owners determining they would prefer to abdicate their four-star cars for the improved edition, Gordon said: “Any issue like that we will deal directly with the customer.

“We have not had anyone come back (with that request). If someone actually did come back, yes we would be working with them over it. The last thing we want to do is hide from the fact.

“If a customer felt that there was an issue then, yes, we would address it directly with them.”

Hyundai Motor in South Korea determined to rework the car to redress an issue with its performance in the 'occupant safety: lower leg' crash test’ brought to light when the model underwent independent crash testing by a NZ Government-sanctioned organisation, ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Programme).

ANCAP believed that original test revealed the Tucson suffered from a compromised driver footwell structure, which could result in an injury to the driver's lower left leg area in a crash. 

That test was run at ANCAP’s Melbourne facility about the same time the car went on sale in New Zealand but the outcome was only announced on November 11, by which time it had been named as one of the top 10 contenders for the 2015 New Zealand Car of the Year decided by the New Zealand Motoring Writers Guild.

By then, also, the period for judges to enter their COTY scores had closed. The Tucson was beaten to the Guild award by the BMW i3.

A win for the Hyundai might have been embarrassing as the Guild’s partner in the competition, the New Zealand Automobile Association, is also the organisation representing ANCAP in this country. It had been critical of the Tucson’s flaw.

Hyundai said it was surprised by the four star rating, not least because the model received a five star score from ANCAP’s sister organisation, the European NCAP. It had also scored a maximum result in an American test.

Engineers from the maker’s research and development centre in South Korea were put to work on finding a fix, which were put in place for all Tucsons built in Korea from November 17 and all examples from the Czech Republic from December 16.

Gordon was unable to say how many Tucson from those factories built prior to those dates were in New Zealand, but thought it was be no more than a relative handful.

AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks says Hyundai’s reaction to the first crash test proves the manufacturer is taking safety seriously.

“No car maker wants a vehicle on the market with less than five stars. The SUV segment is highly competitive and Hyundai clearly wants to continue being a strong contender,” Stocks says.

“The changes made by Hyundai have significantly improved the Tucson’s performance in the frontal offset crash and this reduces the chance of injury to occupants.”

Stocks notes that buyers should check the date of manufacture to avoid any confusion of the ANCAP safety rating.

The revised rating ensures Hyundai now boasts an entire passenger car and SUV range with a maximum safety rating across the board.