Auto Express reports that during last week’s launch of the all-new Hyundai Santa Fe, the carmaker’s global head of sales said a hotted-up N version of the Tucson “is under development, and other models will come after that.”
The remark should quell a year of speculation that a performance-oriented Tucson N had to figure somewhere in Hyundai’s plans. The question now is when will the Tucson N get here.
The N performance sub-brand’s first product, the i30 N, just launched. We’d been told that a “fastback” would come next, probably an N version of the i30 Fastback going on sale in international markets this year. After that would come a B-segment vehicle — likely an i20 N, a road-going model of the four-door that Hyundai uses for the World Rally Championship. After that would come an SUV, however, we’re also expecting a Veloster N to reach the U.S. market late this year. We know that the N division plans to take the time to make sure each model delivers all the goods — the i30 N’s received uniformly high marks so far — so we could be looking at mid to late 2019 for a spicy Tucson.
The hot crossover playground will entertain more global players by then — Seat just debuted its 296-horsepower Cupra Ateca in Europe, for instance — but in the US, the Tucson N could own a niche without a true competitor. The Mazda CX-5 earns across-the-board praise for driving dynamics, but its four-cylinder tops out at 187 hp and it would never be called a “lovable thug.” Unless Ford decides to roll out an Escape ST after three years of scuttlebutt on the matter, nothing else in the segment could touch a ‘roided Tucson, especially one given the full 271-hp from i30 N’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot.