Johannesburg - 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-inch 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 manual model on which it’s based – making this the most powerful Hyundai model in our market. Hyundai doesn’t attach any performance claims to its home-grown hottie, but it’s safe to say it’s at least a little 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 (standard is 17”) 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.

IOL Motoring

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