[dropcap]H[/dropcap]yundai Motors Nigeria, manufacturers and distributors of Hyundai automobiles today joined world renowned Hyundai dealerships as it unveiled the all new third-generation 2016 Tucson SUV that successfully mixes value and practicality.

The visually striking 4WD Tucson replaces iX35 as Korean automaker’s rival for lackluster best sellers like Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4, Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Skoda Yeti, Renault Duster, Ford Escape and Mazda CX3.

Redesigned from ground up with a brand new chassis, the Tucson is another step up from its predecessor and it offers distinctive styling and tremendous features that make a distinction from competitors in the mid-size SUV crowd.

Hyundai has styled the Tucson to look like a mini Santa-Fe – striking characteristic competitors would have to contend with in successive years to oust this nicely styled car that has all the trappings of a luxury.

The Tucson is no doubt an inspiringly beautiful SUV with attractive features, fantastic build quality, efficient engines and a strong suite of safety kits backed by Hyundai ambitious five years or 100, 000km warranty.

The squared-off wheel arches for instance and the Z-shaped shoulder crease on the car flanks give impression the Tucson is moving even while it’s stationary. This is in addition to the smart rounded rear end and the rear light clusters that are similar to some Hyundai’s models.

Coupled with this is the evidently inspiring gasping chrome grille in the front that links up to the headlights and stretched backwards on to the front wings.
Against notable competitors, the Tucson is incredibly spacious and could dwarf rivals in practicality, boot space and generous amount of standard kits too.

Standard equipment on the Tucson is reasonably impressive with air-condition, alloy wheels, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB ports, 18 inch alloy wheels, child safety PR DR lock, keyless entry with burglar alarm and automatic headlights.
Available in Elegance and Evolution variants, the Evolution has optional features including auto Defrog system, ECM+Rear view camera, leather seats, power seats, parking assist, cruise control, privacy glass, button start (smart key) among others.

Hyundai Motors Nigeria Head of Sales and Marketing Jatin Nadkarni who said this much in the product presentation affirmed that the new Tucson has plenty of cabin space for five adults and ample boot capacity than most rivals in the mid-sized SUV segment.

Tucson’s second-row of the five-passenger interior has similarly improved in size and sophistication with a six-way manually adjustable driver’s seat and lumbar support.
Also noteworthy is the Tucson’s near flat-folding rear seats and dual-level cargo floor allowing ample space to store consignment underneath the floor.

“In fact, four six-footers won’t have any trouble getting comfortable in the Tucson – thanks to a roomy cabin that’s top of the class space-wise,” Mr. Nadkarni assured.
The use of buttons and knobs for climate and audio functions is no doubt commendable.

Suffice to say the 2016 Hyundai Tucson has made noticeably gains in overall comfort but most appreciated is its well-insulated cabin that keeps outside sounds at bay and a new suspension setup that can easily soak bumps and nasty road imperfections

Among the most attractive lures is Tucson’s new suite treated to the automaker’s latest ‘Fluidic Sculpture 2.0’ design which gives the car sporty forward stance and sharp creases like the Santa-Fe. This semblance is noticeable in the Tucson’s large trapezoidal grille and the new chassis, which now uses 50% high-strength steel compared to its predecessor’s 18%.

Under the hood, Hyundai Tucson’s powertrain offerings is enhanced with top efficient Nu engine family 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder engine with 164 brake horsepower (bph) and 151 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The six-speed automatic offers SHIFTRONIC™ manual shifting mode and includes an overdrive lock-up torque converter for higher fuel economy at highway speeds.

EPA fuel economy for the 2.0L 4WD model is rated at 23 (city), 31 (highway), 26 (combined). The 26-mpg combined fuel economy rating is a one-mpg improvement over the previous model.

Tucson has resultantly become quieter with less road noise in the cabin especially when cruising on the highway and the body roll has been improved to eliminate unpleasant leaning through fast corners – thanks to the excellent body control.

But how does it feel driving the Tucson? An expert reviewer says: “The Tucson’s power is quick from standstill with smooth changes that transmit fast signals to the gearbox to drop a gear when you call for some immediate pace and despite this the Tucson is a delight to drive in busy traffic.”

The design progress inside the new Tucson for example is evidently glaring with a mix of sophisticated, cohesive, premium shine plastics with splashes of chrome and smooth rolling dials that gives high-end feels
Even so, the eight-inch touch screen is home to audio, and a raft of in-car information displays with intuitive pathways. There’s also good storage pockets with 12-volt, auxiliary and USB points that are sensibly positioned forward of the gear change, allowing ease of access.

Tucson’s second row offers comfort and space for three with two directional air vents; two back of seat pockets, partial reclining seats and indoor storage stow. The centre belt extends from the roofline, but does its job nonetheless.

A much-desired electric tailgate reveals a large load capacity – 488-litres growing to 1478 with the seats folded flat – that offers a good load height with plenty of anchor points; a 12-volt outlet and a dedicated light. There’s also a spot to easily secure the retractable cover when it’s not in use.

Local drivers especially in Nigeria would find the Tucson extremely delightful to drive because of the improved suspension that ensures more precise handling without sacrificing ride comfort. Hyundai claims to have spent significant time testing dampers, anti-roll bars, springs, drivetrains, transmissions and wheel sizes to enhance the ride quality and deliver perfect balance between rough terrain and smooth highways.

A world’s first shock-absorber mounting structure, the 2016 Tucson employs a dual-reinforcing panel rear wheelhouse design, which optimizes panels that are prone to vibration, resulting in a 109 percent increase in rigidity, reduced road noise levels and ride and handling improvements.

The front suspension is a MacPherson strut design, with coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers and a 24.7 mm stabilizer bar. The rear suspension is an independent, multi-link design, now with dual lower arms for both FWD and AWD, for optimal ride comfort and body control. Overall, front and rear suspension setups are now 20 percent stiffer than the outgoing iX35.

Hyundai are in deed, no longer the cheap cars of old. They now have much stronger residuals and continue to close the gap on rivals while others appear to have reached a plateau.

And talking reliability and safety, the Tucson recently scored a perfect 5-star rating from the EuroNCAP crash test – thanks to a full suite of safety kit such as Blind Spot Detection System, Rear Traffic Alert and Autonomous Emergency Braking. Tucson scored 85% for adult and child protection respectively.

The Tucson is undoubtedly Hyundai’s best car yet – and from indication, it could dominate the medium-size SUV segment so it seems.

Nissan SA Managing Director Mike Whitfield now President of NAAMSA

Nissan South Africa’s Managing Director Mike Whitfield has been elected President of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) for 2016.
A 38 member association, NAAMSA is the umbrella body of new vehicle manufacturers, importers and distributors in South Africa. NAAMSA also compiles data on auto industry activity, most importantly monthly new car sales, which are considered a key economic indicator.

Whitfield brings a wealth of experience to his new role. As managing director of Nissan South Africa, he leads Nissan’s Africa South regional business unit, which includes the key South African market, and countries in Sub Saharan Africa.

He has gained a deep understanding of the South African motor industry during a 35-year career in various positions of increasing responsibility at Nissan.

“Mr Whitfield has a long association with our organisation and over that time has made great contribution to promote the interests of the auto industry in South Africa,” said NAAMSA director Nico Vermeulen.

NAAMSA works with key government, labour and industry stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of the local auto industry – an important driver of the economy.

“I’m honoured to be elected president and to play a lead role in helping the auto industry grow in South Africa,” said Whitfield, who is also a former NAAMSA vice-president.

The auto industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the South African economy. It contributed 7.2% to South Africa’s GDP in 2014, thanks to the government’s automotive production development programme (APDP).

The APDP’s focus is on creating an internationally-competitive South African auto manufacturing hub by implementing policies that attract investment, future growth and development.

Supporting Whitfield in his year of office as NAAMSA’s president are vice-presidents Jeff Nemeth (Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa) and Ray Levin (Kia Motors SA), who represent manufacturers and importers/distributors respectively, as well as immediate past President Johan van Zyl from Toyota SA.

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