Wheels: First drive in Hyundai’s Tucson Sport
Words by Hanjo Stier
Hyundai South Africa is a company with its finger on the pulse, reacting to market demands with the sort of speed we last saw in the late 80’s. While most of its rivals are hamstringed by corporate rules, Hyundai can still produce bespoke cars like this Tucson Sport.
The Tucson Sport is – in a nutshell – a regular Tucson with a fully-imported body kit, custom alloys, engine chip-tuning, aggressive throttle sensor and a custom exhaust with four chrome tips. All this costs an additional R56,000.
Where the previous Sport model was based on the 1.6 TGDi (turbo-petrol), this fresher version can also be had as a 2.0R (turbo-diesel). Both iterations are based on the top-spec “Elite” trim with leather interior, climate control, satnav infotainment and plenty of driver aids.
Power outputs are identical at 150kW (204hp) with the 1.6 turbo-petrol making up to 300Nm of torque and the 2.0 turbo-diesel delivering 460Nm. The petrol model uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox while the diesel utilises a traditional eight-speed auto’box. All Tucsons are front-wheel drive only.
Why? Because Hyundai S.A. did their homework and saw that nobody wanted all-wheel drive, but they craved a stylish and efficient SUV. And while the author still thinks sporty wannabe 4×4’s are a fad, plainly the buying power in southern Africa doesn’t.
I’ll let you form your own opinion on the looks of this latest Tucson Sport, it certainly demands to be viewed “in the flesh” to drink in its many styling details. Depending on where it’s manufactured (Korea or Czech Republic) you’ll find subtle paint or trim differences; and the indicator stalk swapping sides.
All Tucsons are available with a choice of seven exterior colours but only a black interior. More important is that they all come with a seven-year/200,000km warranty and roadside assistance. Service plans last five years or 90,000km.
At the recent launch in Cape Town, Hyundai execs sent us through the Cape’s congested highways and byways to Killarney Raceway for some hot laps in the new ‘Sports. That seemed overly confident at first but the car’s extremely eager nature already became apparent on the way to the track. They tear at their leashes, these two.
On the Raceway that means fairly instant performance but most drivers noted that it takes a delicate right foot to handle Tucson Sport in everyday traffic. That uprated throttle sensor makes the car incredibly twitchy at low speeds and spinning wheels were a common (but often unwanted) occurrence. Especially in the brawny diesel.
Another gripe was the turbo-petrol’s boomy exhaust note, although some testers revelled in its subdued Vrr-Pha sounds during gear shifts. We also observed a nervous steering feel, especially around the centre at highway speeds, but sporting drivers may delight in this sense of urgency.
The suspension handled our race track excursions admirably while teetering on the edgy of uncomfortable around suburban streets. It’s certainly sporty and perfectly acceptable by today’s standards. Tucson’s brakes are also superb and withstood a surprising amount of punishment on the track.
So there you have it. The new Hyundai Tucson Sport is a custom-made local jobby with aggro styling and jumpy drive trains, all wrapped in an accomplished package at decent prices. The 1.6 turbo-petrol costs R654 900 and the 2.0 turbo-diesel will set you back R664 900.
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