New Tuc­son Sport is a home-grown hot­tie

Hyundai’s SUV ac­quires ex­tra fire­power and a butch body kit

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - JESSE ADAMS

WITH HYUNDAI’S newly formed N Per­for­mance divi­sion tak­ing its sweet time to re­lease hot­ter ver­sions of ex­ist­ing mod­els, Hyundai South Africa has taken mod­i­fi­ca­tion mat­ters into its own hands - first with the i20 N-Sport last year, and now with a warmed up Sport de­riv­a­tive of its Tuc­son SUV.

The Tuc­son Sport was launched si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the all-new Elantra last week, and with a butch body kit fit­ted, it re­ally over­shad­owed its un­der­stated sedan sta­ble­mate at the event. Hyundai SA im­ports the body kit, which in­cludes deeper front and rear bumper ex­ten­sions and side sills, from a sup­plier in Korea and in­stalls it lo­cally to­gether with a set of black 19” al­loys sourced from Tiger Wheel and Tyre. But, to give the Tuc­son some go to match the show, it also re-mapped the ECU and added a full-length freeflow ex­haust sys­tem.

The end re­sult is 150kW and 295Nm - that’s 20kW and 30Nm more than the stan­dard 1.6 Turbo Ex­ec­u­tive on which it’s based - mak­ing this the most pow­er­ful Hyundai model in our mar­ket. Hyundai doesn’t at­tach any per­for­mance claims to its home­grown hot­tie, but it’s safe to say it should be quicker than the nor­mal ver­sion’s 9.2 sec­ond 0-100km/h and 203km/h top speed fig­ures.

I drove the new de­riv­a­tive for a few hot­laps around Red­star Race­way at the launch, and while it’s cer­tainly not suited to this type of harsh en­vi­ron­ment where it lists like a ship in stormy seas in tight turns, it still proved quite amus­ing to throw through cor­ners at pace. The Sport’s avail­able with front-wheel drive only so trac­tion is an is­sue out of cor­ners, but hi­lar­i­ous amounts of wheel­spin and a sur­pris­ingly tail­happy rear end made for some se­ri­ous fun.

It’s a taste­ful con­ver­sion if you’re into this sort of thing, and it did garner in­quis­i­tive looks from passersby along our test route, but be warned… the freeflow ex­haust can be irk­some at times. It’s not ex­ces­sively loud, but it booms in­side the cabin with a steady hum at cer­tain revs. I also no­ticed the up­sized wheels (17” ver­sions are stan­dard) made for some tyre roar at high­way speeds, and I only men­tion it be­cause the stan­dard Tuc­son is an es­pe­cially quiet run­ner.

The Tuc­son Sport is priced at R499 900 - a R50 000 pre­mium over the nor­mal 1.6 Turbo model. It re­tains Hyundai’s stan­dard five-year/150 000km (plus two-year/50 000km driv­e­train) war­ranty and five-year/90 000km ser­vice plan. The con­ver­sion can­not be retro­fit­ted to pre­vi­ously bought mod­els.

The 1.6 turbo en­gine of the Sported-up Tuc­son gets an ex­tra 20kW and 30Nm

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