So, there I was just chilling on a mid-morning jaunt to the local shopping centre when some mouse in another brand of car pulls alonside at the traffic lights and starts revving his engine and gesturing at the Hyundai Tucson Sport I was driving.
No traffic on the road so I figured by the time I had outdragged him to the next set of lights he would be embarrassed enough to turn off and slink quietly away.
But no. Having dropped him as planned, we get to the set of lights and he jumps out of his car – now this is South Africa – so I’m planning a racy getaway from what could be a hijack attempt. However, he approaches, both hand held open and empty and, since he is wearing a suit, I drop the window a smidgen.
Turns out he wants to buy the car. The local dealer did not have one in blue, he wanted it and happened to spot me as I drove past.
It might just be a SUV, but the Sport is that kind of a car. The locally developed gutsier version has the right look of intent and backs this up with enough muscle to be really good fun – and, the dealer can adjust the throttle response setting from the sublime to the ridiculous.
My test unit was the 2,0-litre diesel and when you have to concentrate really hard not to induce wheelspin every single time you pull away, you know the tweaks work.
The 2,0-litre turbo-diesel delivers 150 kW at 4 000 r/min and torque delivery is 460 Nm in an engine speed range of 1 750 r/min to 2 750 r/min. This engine, also delivering power to the front wheels, is coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which also offers a manual shift option.
At the local launch I drove one with the wild throttle – fortunately the actual test car had this muted to a more manageable level, but still tweaked enough to instantly be responsive to throttle pressure and move from ‘Mom’s Taxi’ to road racer in milliseconds.
On that score I can relate to the man’s urgency in wanting one, and wanting it now – to the point of offering to buy my one from me.
It is not the fastest or most brutal SUV on the market. What it does is just elevate the standard version to fun level for those unlikely to be taking their charges on lesser known and dirt road trips – although, even with the lower profile (245/45 R19), it handles slippery and marbled dirt quite well.
Fuel consumption is around 7,9 l/100 km on average so it is good for 780 or kilometres or so on a tank.
The Tucson Sport’s interior is similar to the other derivatives in the range, sporting a dashboard with a floating 7-inch screen for its infotainment system that offers features such as linkage to Apple’s CarPlay or the Android Auto application on smartphones.
In the case of the Sport derivative, the top specification level was chosen, including features such as power seat adjustment for the driver and passenger, dual climate control, rear air vents, rear parking assist cameras and a rear-view camera with a display on the infotainment screen, and a panoramic sunroof.
The Tucson’s upper dashboard features high-quality soft-touch material with a double stitching line for a high-quality feeling in the interior. The focal point of the centre console is the floating audio system screen, which has an ergonomic position to allow drivers to stay focused on the road.
The infotainment system in the Tucson offers a satellite navigation function when used with one’s Apple cell phone and CarPlay, or the Android Auto application.
Apart from the Blind Spot Detection and Cross Traffic Alert (in the Executive, Elite and Sport versions), the Tucson is equipped with passive safety features such as dual front and side crash bags (driver and front passenger) and curtain crash bags that offer protection for rear passengers as well in all derivatives. Isofix latching points for child safety seats are also fitted to all Tucson derivatives.
Executive, Elite and Sport derivatives of the Tucson are also equipped with Vehicle Stability Management that keeps the car stable on wet, slippery or rough roads, as well as Hill-start Assist Control to prevent roll-back when pulling off against an incline.
It comes with a 5 year/90 000 km service plan, a 7-year/200 000 km warranty,roadside assistance for 7 years or 150 000 and service intervals are every 15 000 km.
The Hyundai warranty goes a long way to helping to contain ever rising motoring costs but is also a good statement of confidence in a brand that continues to strengthen its footprint both locally and internationally.