Hyundai’s Tucson range received a cosmetic nip-and-tuck earlier this year, which also coincided with an update to the cabin appointments and included a new infotainment system among others. And in its quest to further expand the model’s portfolio, the updates have now also been liberally spread to the Tucson Sport version, which is essentially the sportier-looking variant of an existing model that, chiefly, was brought about to take on the Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line variants.
Hyundai’s tenacity to bring to market models that satiate mobility needs for most buyer profiles is admirable at worst. Think of its product portfolio, stemming from the tiny tot i10 right up to the flagship Santa Fe, there’s essentially something for most buyer profiles and needs.
Sure, there is a gap in the performance vehicle realm of the brand on the local front, simply because the N performance wing of the marque is yet to launch here with its pioneering torchbearer being the Hyundai i30N, which takes the fight directly to the VW Golf GTI et al. According to a company spokesperson, this might change in due course, so until then we will await its arrival with bated breath.
WHAT’S AVAILABLE IN THE INTERIM?
Until then, the only model that seems to have any performance ambitions is the locally developed Tucson Sport. It can be distinguished by its more aggressive body kit replete with a body colour matching jutting front splitter, side sills and those TSW sourced good-looking black alloy wheels. At the rear, meanwhile, sprout neatly a quad exhaust system through a diffuser. The suspension, according to Hyundai, remains standard fare so there is no tangible difference in ride quality or handling prowess.
DOES IT HAVE GO TO MATCH?
While previously there was only the 1.6-litre petrol turbo on offer with 150 kW and 300 Nm, there’s now a 2.0-litre diesel variant with 150 kW and 460 Nm. The former model is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic driving the front wheels, while the latter features an eight-speed torque converter automatic.
At the model’s launch in Tshwane, we sampled the diesel variant first and it displayed some stout in-gear acceleration, thanks to the fat seam of torque available at 1,750 r/min. It does, however, overwhelm the front wheels momentarily as they scrabble for purchase when you put your foot down.
But, once on the move, it pulls with conviction and gusto reminiscent of a steam train. Meanwhile, the petrol felt that much more urgent, spurred on no doubt by that swift-shifting dual-clutch gearbox. However, if I were to choose, it would be the diesel that I would opt for, thanks to its relaxed power delivery and being more economical at the pumps.
WHAT ABOUT THE CABIN APPOINTMENTS?
Both Sport models come with the highest specification available that includes powered leather seats up front, a 7” infotainment replete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone functionality. There is also a panoramic sunroof. In addition, there is a host of active and passive safety amenities that include Blind Spot Detection, Traffic Detection and dual front, side and curtain airbags across the entire range.
Hyundai’s Tucson Sport derivatives look the part and comprehensively specified, however, the Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line in both 2.0-litre TSI and 2.0-litre TDI Highline models are simply hard to beat at R612,750 and R612,850 respectively.
In contrast, the Hyundai 1.6 TGDI Sport at R654,900 and the 2.0-litre turbodiesel Sport at R664,900. Yes, the pricing might be negligible considering the high specification levels, but the Volkswagen is more likely to have better residual values in three to five years. As such, if I had to vote with my wallet, it is the Tiguan Highline R-Line that I would punt.
Report by LERATO MATEBESE | Images © HYUNDAI SA