Has un­der­gone an amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion - we give you the de­tails.

Nam Wheels - - Front Page -

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.

This Hyundai

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