Tucson Sport is a practical riot on the road
Cheap thrills and wheel spin characterise Hyundai’s wildest diesel car
Under normal circumstances, a Hyundai Tucson is a likeable mainstream SUV that ticks most of the boxes for modern family requirements. It’s an SUV that’s popular for its safety, style, practicality and reasonably frugal engines.
In the second generation Tucson Sport 2.0d, Hyundai SA has created something similar to the bread-and-butter models in other realms yet totally divergent on others and, I might add, not to everyone’s taste.
Using an Elite Tucson as a base and dressing it up with a body kit that pumps up the styling, bespoke 19-inch rubber on blackened alloy wheels and quad tailpipes, it manages to escape looking like an overlayered cabbage of a car. In a local development, Hyundai engineers tinkered with the engine management system and cranked up the power to 150kW and 400Nm, which is 19kW and 60Nm more than the regular model. All of this takes the vehicle to new extremes which you’ll either love or loathe.
Inside, the Tucson Sport’s packaging is typical Hyundai; neat, spacious and luxurious. Except for a bit of bass in its engine thrum, there’s precious little to imply that you’re sitting inside a sportier animal. Until you feel the impressive shove from stepping on the throttle, and how it will skedaddle down a road.
You do find a good seat position which is still high rather hunkered down like in a properly fast car. Hyundai has omitted the manual transmission, and the eight-speed automatic transmission certainly helps manage the drive.
There are no modifications carried out underneath, and it uses standard damping and brakes. If you think it looks low-slung, it’s because of the extended side skirts.
Its nonstiffened chassis plainly struggles to cope with the requirements of fast-paced driving but on a positive note the inherent comfort translates into a cushy, rather than crashing drive quality on bad surfaces. It’s just that when feeling playful you’d really want tauter underpinnings, and perhaps all-paw traction.
It’s the only front-wheel drive SUV among its all-wheel drive rivals. All-wheel drive would surely increase fuel consumption, of which it hovered around the 8.2l/100km mark during its stay, but it would also be good for driving on wet and gravel surfaces.
It would refine the vehicle’s power delivery with much-needed linearity and also cure one of its other ills, which is errant power delivery on take-off.
The 460Nm output clearly overwhelms the front wheels and this translates into screeching front wheels with almost every prod of the throttle, even with careful moderation. This makes it an exhausting drive at civil speeds.
Despite its quirks, the Tucson has a genuine sting in its tail for fun driving on empty back roads.
It demands driver involvement rather than passive engagement. It will also sit at a calm 120km/h with plenty of grunt in reserve to snatch a quick overtake and suffice to say, it’ll be an amusing school runner that the kids will always look forward to and brag about during lunch break.
MOTORING PODCAST | Racing the Devil
Type: Four-cylinder turbodiesel
Type: Eight-speed auto
Type: Front-wheel drive
Top speed: 201km/h (claimed)
0-100km/h: 9.3 sec (claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 7.9l/100km (claimed) (8.2l/100km as tested)
Body Colour & Silver Skid Plate, imitation leather, sport body kit, ABS brakes, stability control, Active Yaw Control, Downhill Brake Control, Hill-start Assist Control, six airbags, fog lights, full LED headlights with auto on/off function, seven inch display infotainment system, Carplay, Aux/iPod/USB Connection, Bluetooth, Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, cruise control, panoramic sunroof, rear view camera and rear park distance control
Cost of ownership
Warranty: Five years/150,000km with additional two-year/50,000km Powertrain Warranty
Service Plan: Five years/90,000km
Lease*: R14,221 per month
*at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Hyundai Tucson 2.0D Elite Sport
WE LIKE: Looks, performance, fuel consumption
WE DISLIKE: Wheel spin
VERDICT: Downtown gangster SUV
Motor News star rating
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Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi AWD ST Line, 110kW/340Nm — R571,900
VW Tiguan 2.0TDI 4Motion Comfortline, 132kW/400Nm — R576,700