More than 7 500 third-generation Hyundai Tucsons were sold here in the 13 months since its South African launch last year. That is one of several good reasons to put a body kit on this popular SUV model, as well as four big and very good-looking black alloy wheels plus a pair of exhaust pipes to create the bold and beautiful Tucson Sport.

This derivative of Hyundai’s popular SUV model is known as the Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDI Executive Sport, which means it is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine that delivers 150 kW and 295 Nm of torque.

“It was not really market research, but more of a gut feeling that comes from many years in the automotive business,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive SA, when asked why the decision was taken to dress up the Tucson. Anderson said: “We knew we already had a most attractive SUV – the sales figures prove that – and we were able to create a Tucson Sport that is bold in a classy way, without being overly arrogant, but certainly with the looks that draw a lot of attention. The 1.6 turbocharged engine also delivers more than enough power to suit the sporty looks. We import the body kit – front, rear and side skirts – from Korea, and the 19-inch black alloy wheels were chosen with the help of Tiger Wheel & Tyre, exclusively for the Tucson Sport. Then we fitted a different exhaust system with four chrome pipes at the rear that audibly announces the sporty nature of this Tucson, and the result is a winner in terms of looks and performance.”

The 1,6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is linked to a slick six-speed manual gearbox with well-spaced ratios to get the power and torque to the road effectively through the front-wheel drive system.

Standard features of the Tucson Sport include an eight-inch screen infotainment system with satellite navigation, Bluetooth telephone linking and music streaming, as well as a CD player, USB and AUX music input and several preset settings for FM and AM radio reception. It also displays a rear view from the park assist camera when reversing the vehicle.

The Tucson Sport’s recommended retail price of R499 900 include Hyundai’s industry-leading seven-year/200 000 km warranty, roadside assistance for five years or 150 000 km, and a five-year/90 000 km service plan. Servicing is only required at 15 000 km intervals.