It wasn’t long ago that Audi led the German charge for world car domination by inventing the word dynamic.
They were so proud of it that they used it at one Press conference I went to in Spain more than 60 times.
I can’t remember the exact figure, I think it was 64 but it was around 20 years ago.
Now it seems that Kia and parent company Hyundai are mounting a North Korean challenge of their own.
They’ve not done it, though, by using words. Instead they’ve moved up a league.
In terms of build quality and a great warranty both marques have always been unbeatable, but the interiors always seemed to match the price. They were cheap.
Not any more. You’ve only got to look at cars like the Kia Niro, Optima, Stinger and Sorento to see the difference. Hyundai have the Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe. All are quality cars with remarkably swish interiors at surprisingly low prices considering how much you get.
There’s also Hyundai’s high-in-kit N Line range to consider. That moves things up another gear by adding high performance to a range of cars with extra goodies and looks.
Latest to get the N Line treatment is the Tucson, an SUV which starts from £25,995.
On the outside it features new front and rear bumpers, a dark mesh-pattern grille with a dark chrome surround, 19in alloys, gloss black door mirror housings and rear spoiler, black-bezel headlights, unique LED daytime running lights, darkened window frames and body-coloured door handles.
The inside sees upmarket N-branded leather and suede sport seats with red stitching, also carried over to the N branded leather steering wheel, alloy pedals and a leather-wrapped, red-accented N gear lever.
Meanwhile Tucson N Line T-GDi (gasoline direct injection) models have more direct steering and stiffer suspension settings that result in 5% greater rigidity in the rear set-up and an 8% increase at the front.
The Tucson N Line also sees the introduction of an all-new 48 Volt Hybrid semi-electric model for the 1.6 CRDi (common rail direct injection), which replaces the conventional 1.6 diesel.
Electric power comes from a 48-volt lithium-ion battery, a Mild Hybrid Starter Generator (MHSG), an LDC converter (Low Voltage DC/DC) and an inverter.
Under acceleration the MHSG supports the engine with up to 12 kW of power, reducing fuel consumption and emissions, with the system switching automatically between mechanical use of the engine and energy recuperation.
The MHSG assists the combustion engine by discharging the battery to reduce engine load with light acceleration, or to provide additional torque under strong acceleration. During in-gear deceleration and braking, energy is recuperated to recharge the battery.
The hybrids, with 136hp and 320Nm (236lb) of torque return around 65mpg, have a top speed of 112mph, hit 0-62mph in 11.8s (auto) and 11.2s for the manual.
Petrol powered Tucsons, with 177hp and 265Nm (196lb) of torque, average 40mpg, have a top speed of 125mph and hit 0-62mph in 8.9s (auto) and 9.2s (manual).
Ashley Andrew, Managing Director, Hyundai Motor UK said “The Tucson N Line is the first model outside the i30 family to receive some of the N magic and gives our customers the desirable package of hot hatch style, sportier handling and SUV practicality.”
Both cars have 1.6-litre engines with front wheel drive. Prices start from £25,995, rising to £33,035 for a top spec Premium SE 48 Volt Hybrid when they go on sale on May 30.
All Tucson N Line models come with Hyundai’s five year unlimited mileage warranty and roadside assistance.