The Tucson Sport engine is tuned in SA and outfitted with a body kit sourced from a Korean supplier. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Tucson Sport engine is tuned in SA and outfitted with a body kit sourced from a Korean supplier. Picture: SUPPLIED

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.

Quad-pipes poke out the rear. Careful not to provoke. SUPPLIED
Quad-pipes poke out the rear. Careful not to provoke. SUPPLIED

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.

All of the range’s attributes of safety, luxury and practicality are retained but they travel much faster in the Tucson Sport 2.0d. Picture: SUPPLIED
All of the range’s attributes of safety, luxury and practicality are retained but they travel much faster in the Tucson Sport 2.0d. Picture: SUPPLIED

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.


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Tech Specs

Engine

Type: Four-cylinder turbodiesel

Capacity: 1,995cc

Power: 150kW

Torque: 460Nm

Transmission

Type: Eight-speed auto

Drivetrain

Type: Front-wheel drive

Performance

Top speed: 201km/h (claimed)

0-100km/h: 9.3 sec (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 7.9l/100km (claimed) (8.2l/100km as tested)

Emissions: 164

Standard features

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

Price: R664,900

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

Design * * * * *

Performance * * * * *

Economy * * * * *

Ride/handling * * *

Safety * * * * *

Value For Money * * * * *

Overall * * * * *

Competition

Ford Kuga 2.0 TDCi AWD ST Line, 110kW/340Nm — R571,900

VW Tiguan 2.0TDI 4Motion Comfortline, 132kW/400Nm — R576,700