The new Hyundai Tucson compact SUV will be priced from £18,695 when it goes on sale in September. Replacing the current ix35, the new Hyundai is a rival for the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai, which topped our 2014 Tow Car Awards

In terms of styling, the new Tucson more closely resembles the larger Santa Fe than the old ix35, with a prominent grille, narrow wrap-around headlights and sharp lines. In a sector of the market which places a strong emphasis on style as well as practicality, the purposeful new look should prove an asset.

Buyers will have the choice of two- and four-wheel-drive versions with petrol and diesel engines ranging in output from 116PS (114bhp) to 185PS (182bhp).

The entry point to the range will be the 1.6 GDi 132PS (130bhp) 2WD petrol. This weighs 1454kg including 75kg for the driver, which gives an 85% match figure of 1236kg. Legal towing limits and the maximum download on the tow ball have not yet been published.

With just 119lb ft of torque arriving at a lofty 4850rpm, this engine doesn’t appear well suited to the demands of towing. The least powerful diesel version looks a better bet for pulling a lightweight caravan. The 1.7-litre CRDi 116PS (114bhp) 2WD manual has a kerbweight of 1500kg, giving an 85% match figure of 1275kg. Peak torque of 207lb ft arrives at just 1250rpm, suggesting a flexible engine that should cope well with any sensibly matched tourer.

If you’re determined to tow with petrol power, there’s a 1.6 T-GDi in the new Hyundai Tucson range with 177PS (175bhp) and 195lb ft of torque. This should make a better fist of towing than the non-turbocharged petrol, with kerbweights ranging from 1583kg for the manual to 1609kg for cars fitted with the DCT automatic gearbox. All UK cars with this engine will be four-wheel drive.

For more frequent towing or pulling a heavier caravan, there’s a 2.0-litre diesel available in two states of tune. The 2.0 CRDi 136PS (134bhp) has 275lb ft of torque, delivered from just 1500rpm. That’s serious pulling power, and means this version of the Tucson will have significantly more poke than the equivalent Nissan Qashqai.

Two-wheel-drive manual versions have a 1604kg kerbweight, rising to 1662kg for the four-wheel-drive manual. The four-wheel-drive auto has a kerbweight of 1690kg.

With so much torque from the 136PS version, on paper there’s little need for the higher powered model. However, with 185PS (182bhp) and 295lb ft of torque it should really shift. This range-topping engine will only be sold as a 4×4, with identical kerbweights to the lower-powered version.

All that power does come at the expense of fuel economy. The most powerful engine returns 47.9mpg on the combined cycle, or 43.5mpg with the auto ‘box. A few years ago those would have been impressive figures, but they’re no great shakes now. The less powerful 2.0-litre returns 58.9mpg on the combined cycle with two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox.

There will be five spec levels to choose from, although not every grade will be available with every engine. The Tucson range will start with S trim, equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, all-round electric windows, Bluetooth connectivity, a six-speaker stereo, a DAB digital radio, six airbags and Trailer Stability Assist.

SE spec adds 17-inch alloys, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearknob, climate control, heated front seats, front fog lights, cruise control, rear parking sensors and more. 

Upgrade to SE Nav for – you’ve guessed it – sat-nav. There’s a bit more to it than that, though, with a reversing camera and a Speed Limit Information System, too.

Go for Premium cars, and extra kit includes 19-inch alloy wheels, electric adjustment for the driver’s and front passenger’s seats, heated outer rear seats, leather seat facings, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic wipers, front parking sensors and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

If you’re really feeling flush, Premium SE cars have ventilated front seats, LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel and keyless entry with a start button to fire up the engine.

Whichever spec level is chosen, Hyundai promises the new Tucson’s cabin takes a significant step forward in quality compared with the old ix35. The boot has a useful 513-litre capacity, although this drops to 488 litres if you opt for a car with a spare wheel rather than a tyre repair kit.

Our colleagues on What Car? have been among the first to drive the new Tucson. I’ve been chasing Hyundai for a drive in the car myself, so keep an eye out for a review here on the blog and in a future edition of the magazine, as we find out what tow car ability this new SUV has.

And if all that sounds a bit tasty but you’re not in the market for a new car, how about a used Hyundai Tucson?