FIRST DRIVE | We sample a pair of vigorous new Hyundai Tucson SUVs
1.6 TGDI Sport and R2.0 Sport models add vigour and spice to the Tucson range
Hyundai SA has launched hotter derivatives of its medium-sized Tucson SUV in 150kW/300Nm petrol turbo 1.6l and 150kW/460Nm 2.0l diesel flavours.
They follow the Tucson range getting a facelift almost a year ago. There are significant changes to the recipe this time around, starting with Hyundai ditching the six-speed manual transmission. The petrol Tucson now exclusively gets a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and the diesel version’s torque rich motor is stoked using a conventional eight-speed automatic.
This performance duo is based on the regular Tucson front-drive platform which turns them into propulsive oddities against all-wheel drive rivals from Volkswagen and Ford.
There are two driving traits hidden under the exteriors with their flaring side skirts and darkened 19-inch alloys wheels. You can plug into their functional, family-car repertoire and settle down on the standard electric and leather-clad seats and enjoy the comfort of big space, a full-length glass roof, dual climate control, ease of parking thanks to a rear view camera, a decent audio system, Bluetooth telephony and keyless entry and start among a raft of safety system like six airbags and all manner of alert systems.
But you'll be more interested in the qualities that match the audible bass timbres emitted from their quartet of oval exhaust pipes that poke out their sportier looking rear valances. The potency is registered early on in the rev ranges, the more muscular diesel replying with wicked torque steer on the wheel to any unmeasured prod of the throttle.
The diesel’s 0-100km/h sprint is claimed to be dispatched in 9.3 seconds while the petrol should cover the same sprint in 8.9 seconds.
Both are said to possess a 201km/h top speed. They are bit of a handful to drive thanks largely to pronounced turbo lag on initial take off that’s quickly followed by an angry wave of power when they hit peak points on their rev ranges.
Their large dimensions are ever present in the proceedings, more so when hurrying down a narrow road and during hard cornering manoeuvres. There are no chassis tweaks for better dynamism and the front tyres, already burdened with hauling two tons of SUV, tend to protest with squealing understeer.
Good turn in, as is genuinely fast progress, can be harnessed from this pair of performance-orientated Hyundai SUVs however. It’s an authentic enough sporting brief.
The ABS equipped front and rear ventilated disc brakes are shared with the rest of the Tucson range but they proved strong and sharp enough to curtail any speeds on both road and track as experienced on the back roads of the Magaliesberg region, and on Gerotek’s dynamic handling track.
Both offer contrasting pros and cons against each other: the petrol sounding a whole lot louder and kitted out with a quicker shifting transmission and mapping to match the racier characteristics of its higher-revving petrol motor.
The diesel feels stronger and tractable everywhere. You can unleash its torrent of torque at a moment’s notice, in any gear, to accelerate and take advantage of open gaps in traffic or to silence condescending nonbelievers in premium performance SUV brands.
The CRDi will also sip a lot less on its fuel supply when off-boost. In either flavour, their on-board traction systems are certainly the most overworked I’ve experienced in a while.
Tucson 1.6 TGDI Sport: R654,900
Tucson R2.0 Sport: R664,900
Five-year/90,000km service plan; seven-year/200,000km warranty and roadside assistance for seven years or 150,000km as standard.