The Hyundai Tucson, which is already a good seller, has added a new Sport package, and this, says Charles Thompson, makes this utility vehicle pure fun.
The words “body kit” conjures images of old BMWs and Subarus with Tupperware for wings and plastic bumpers that look like ploughshares. But if a manufacturer itself launches a Sport package for one of its models, it can be a stylish affair. And that’s the case with the new Hyundai Tucson Sport.
The Tucson Sport is a combined project between Hyundai South Africa and South Korea. The bumpers are imported from Asia, while the new wheels are designed in conjunction with Tiger Wheel & Tyre locally. With its low bumpers, pitch black 19-inch alloy wheels, and four exhausts, the new Sport looks a whole lot more aggressive than the stylish standard model. The bumpers are mostly the same colour as the rest of the vehicle, with chrome and black insets in front, at the back and underneath the doors. While the standard Tucson’s styling is aimed more at people looking for a neat family vehicle, the Sport is a built-up whopper that looks like the type to stop next to you in traffic, keen to dice.
The Sport package is available in the 1.6 GDI Executive model, which lies in the middle of the range. Like with all of Hyundai’s vehicles, the Executive is packed with standard luxuries such as leather seats, automatic air con, a rear-view camera, and cruise control. You also don’t pay extra for a touch-screen radio with satellite navigation, a USB plug, and Bluetooth. The Sport model doesn’t come with any interior changes like sports seats, badges, or pedals, but the inside is of the same high quality and neat design that you’ve come to expect from Hyundai products.
Behind the wheel
The turbo-powered 1.6 GDI engine is also standard and develops the same 150 kW and 295 Nm torque as the Executive model. The Tucson Sport’s exhaust system is, however, modified to make space for four impressive exhausts. (But there is still space for a tow bar.) The pipes growl like an angry dog when you start the vehicle and bark readily when you put your foot down on the accelerator.
You don’t really drive faster in the Sport, but every gear change and vehicle overtaking is more enjoyable than in the standard model. The 19-inch tyres do make the drive harder as in a similar model with 18-inch tyres, but it’s still comfortable and there isn’t a marked increase in road noise in the cabin. We especially like the constant deep-throat groan that the exhaust system makes when you’re speeding along. It’s not that overpowering that it will annoy you over long distances – rather it’s just enough to underscore the enjoyable drive in the Hyundai.
At half a million rand the Tucson Sport is more expensive than competitors like Volkswagen’s Tiguan and Mazda’s CX-5. It is, however, to be expected for a sport model that – although not a proper limited edition – is still a fairly unique version of this utility vehicle. And, the Tucson Sport wasn’t built to compete directly with other manufacturers’ standard models. This is a unique product. The styling might not be subtle enough to draw the masses but the Tucson Sport, with its cheeky attitude and loudmouth exhaust system, is a pure joy to drive. And with the sporty appearance and sound, you still get Hyundai’s superb specification levels and class-leading seven-year warranty.
Hyundai Tucson Sport R499 900
STYLISH SPORT STAR (clockwise from top). Its body kit makes the Tucson Sport look a lot more aggressive than the rest of the family, with black 19-inch rims rounding off the look nicely. The interior remains the same as the standard model, with lots of luxuries included in the price, like leather seats and a USB socket. The Sport package is available on the 1.6 GDI Executive model, a turbo-charged diesel that delivers 150 kW and 295 Nm of torque. You’re a lot more aware of the engine in the cabin, however, thanks to a modified exhaust system that delivers a lekker bark when you punch the accelerator.