Has undergone an amazing transformation - we give you the details.
Do you still remember that quiet, geeky kid in school?
They were notable for not being noticeable, had good manners but never caused a stir.
That is, until you bumped into them at your recent matric reunion and they’d morphed into a stylish, vibrant entrepreneur.
Well, cars can do the same and Hyundai’s Tucson is a prime example.
Launched in 2004, the first generation of the Tucson certainly fitted the bill.
Sensible, unexciting and pretty much on its way to becoming the librarian’s favourite.
Despite being boring, the compact Korean SUV sold reasonably well until its parents had a change of heart and decided to set it free. So it set off and did a gap year. In Europe.
What emerged through the international arrivals gate was ix35, the second generation of the Tucson which managed to pull a pretty decent caterpillar to butterfly move.
Although it still possessed normal engines, the proud parent Hyundai must have been delighted about the warm reception and those stealthy glances its much prettier child suddenly received.
Which brings me neatly to this new, third generation Hyundai Tucson we had on test recently.
While taking photos of our white press car, I couldn’t help thinking how it has grown up.
The Korean manufacturer long abandoned value in favour of style and new technology, while quite relentlessly improving the design and gadget count with each model.
Interesting looks are set off by crisp light clusters, avant- garde proportions, commendable quality and convenience features that will not have to fear rival products.
Third generation Tucson is the latest child to receive parent Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0” styling and – finally – turbo petrol power for this top- of- therange derivative.
Borrowed from the sleek Veloster Turbo, here beats a heart with 1.6L capacity and clever turbo- charging to give you up to 130kw ( 177hp) or 265Nm.
Although it’s 20kw down from Veloster’s maximum power output, the torque figure remains identical and it is yours to play with from 1,750 to 4,500rpm. Actually, Hyundai is lying to us.
Like those profound talks you have with that former book nerd, this engine had meriveted.
I floored it in various high gears at low speeds and it pulled from as little as 1,200rpm onwards.
Not drastically, mind you, but there was an almost immediate urge to pick up the pace.
Chatting about gears, the top- spec Tucson 1.6 can be had in 6- speed manual or 7- speed DCT ( Dual Clutch Transmission).
Hyundai insists that this is not a normal automatic but rather an automated manual box of cogs.
Once you get your head around that idea, it’s quite pleasant. Not DSG fast or smooth, but sufficiently efficient.
This eager drive train suits the SUV’S improved ride and handling well, never mind how it flabbergasts ex classmates with its new looks, fashionable interior and gadget count.
Highlights include cruise control, Bluetooth ability, leather and chrome trim, power seats / windows / mirrors, keyless entry and six airbags.
Steering feel is rather light while hard cornering was rewarded with some safe understeer and mild ESP intervention – perfect for this type of vehicle and its intended target market.
Passenger comfort and space in the Tucson is also satisfactory with the only negative mark being road noise from the big ( but extremely good- looking) 19- inch wheels. The manual version rides on more sensible 17- inch wheels and every Tucson has a full- size spare tyre. Average claimed fuel use is 8.5L/ 100km from the 62L tank.
This 1.6 TGDI Elite ( DCT) 4WD costs N$ 540,000 and includes a warranty for 7 years or 200,000km ( read that again!) and a service plan which covers 5 years or 90,000km.
The new Hyundai Tucson has not only caught up with the competition, it now actually gives them something to think about when comparing its price and specifications, design, power and comfort.
“Are you really sure that is Tucson?” whispers the somewhat wrinkly blonde at your matric reunion, clutching her fourth glass of Chardonnay.
Yes... it is!
Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa
BEFORE: Plan your route
It may sound silly but the easiest way to ensure that you’re always in the correct lane is to plan your route before departure - especially if it involves roads you haven’t travelled on before. Change lanes in good time, usually one intersection before a turn or junction. If multi-lane streets cause you stress, it may be wise to plan your route around those.