Hyundai South Africa has expanded its top-selling Tucson family car/compact SUV range through the addition of a beefed-up Sport model. We got to grips with this newcomer at the local launch event in the Western Cape.
The Hyundai Tucson has been a phenomenal sales success since the new model was launched back in March 2016. While Hyundai SA doesn't report its monthly sales figures, the launch presented us with some face time with the importer's management team and they were only too happy to divulge how sales of the Korean marque's products were faring in the South African new vehicle market.
In the period from March 2016 to April 2017, the Tucson comfortably outsold its rivals, taking 16.5% of the segment share. The closest rival was Toyota's RAV, which could only muster 12.6%. It's been a terrific period for Hyundai and the Tucson's specification and value for money have won it many fans. The addition of the 1.7-litre diesel engine further broadened the product's appeal and now, well, we have something a bit off the wall.
The bespoke bodykit adds oodles of "bruiser cruiser" kerb appeal to otherwise demure Tucson.
Hyundai Tucson Sport specifications
The Hyundai Tucson is widely considered a good-looking vehicle, but Hyundai SA approached its supplier in Korea with the idea to bring an overtly sportier derivative of the popular family car to market. A body kit comprising front bumper, side skirts and rear diffuser was imported, while Tiger Wheel & Tyre was enlisted to supply an alloy wheel specifically for this product; the blacked-out 19-inch alloys definitely look the part.
Finally, there needs to be rortier noise to round off this "performance" Tucson and, to that end, a 4-pipe sports exhaust has been fitted. The result is the Hyundai Tucson Sport, a locally-created product that visually easily outshines its sibling. In terms of peak power outputs, you're now looking at numbers of 150 kW and 295 Nm, which are respectable figures. In comparison with the standard model, those are increases of 20 kW and 30 Nm. As with the standard car, power reaches the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The satin chrome insets combine tastefully with the black cladding and rims to give the Tucson "a hunkered down" look.
The specification of the Tucson Sport is based on the Executive trim line, which means the creature-comfort count is generous: climate control, infotainment system with USB and auxiliary ports, plus Bluetooth connectivity, reverse-view camera and rain-sensing wipers are just some of the standard features. Its safety spec is impressive too: ESP, ABS with EBD, front/rear fog lights, ISOfix child seat mounts and 6 airbags are fitted.
We drove the new Hyundai Tucson Sport in conjunction with the new Elantra at a media launch in the Winelands region. Upon start-up, the Tucson Sport has a surprisingly raucous soundtrack, with the noise subsiding as the rev needle returned to idle. What's more, there's a bit of an induction bark when you jab the accelerator pedal.
The ride on the bigger wheels is firm, but fairly pliant, although we'd recommend against traversing gravel surfaces in the Sport because the low-profile rubber would be vulnerable to jagged edges. Despite the bigger wheels/thin sidewalls, however, the cabin doesn't convey much road noise.
The quadruple exhaust tips look... and sound... wild. Although they are a bit boomy at cruising speeds, the high-rev howl is worth it.
One of the problems with these adaptations such as these (and we experienced it with the Hyundai i20 Sport, for example) is that the exhaust tends to drone when you're on the open road, which can be mildly annoying. However, we're quite happy to report that unless you're really trying to get a move on, the exhaust noise never really overwhelms the cabin, it's more like a subtle reminder that you're not in an ordinary Tucson and the additional shove is certainly present.
Hyundai Tucson Sport price in South Africa
The Hyundai Tucson Sport retails for R499 999 and comes with a 5-year/150 000 km manufacturer's warranty, with an additional 2-year/50 000 km manufacturer powertrain warranty. Furthermore, there is roadside assistance of 5 years (or 150 000 km) and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.
The Tucson Sport's interior remains unaltered, which, considering the bold exterior, some buyers might find a trifle disappointing.
The introduction of the Tucson Sport is a bold move by Hyundai South Africa, but considering the success of the Tucson range, the firm had every reason to feel bullish about the newcomer's chances. After all, the Tucson is likely to sell in impressive numbers, regardless of whether this special model succeeds or not. Is it more than just a packaging exercise? Can it justify its R50 000 premium over a 1.6T GDI Executive?
Well, its execution is certainly edgier than those of other premium compact family cars, plus the upgrade allows owners to add muscle to the Tucson's kerb appeal without voiding the vehicle's warranty and service plan. Granted, the exhaust note is loud, but not to the point of being a distraction.. it (the noise) is quite bearable when cruising on the open road cruising and only really becomes raucous when you're pressing on. Suffice to say the Tucson Sport is not for everyone... and that is why, for a particularly extroverted, individualistic customer, it will be just the ticket.
Read a review of the 1.7D Hyundai Tucson here
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