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Could Ireland's best-selling car be about to become a little more exciting? That's certainly possible, as Hyundai is showing off a sporty version of its big-selling Tucson - the Tucson N Line.
With the N badge fast becoming Hyundai shorthand for, well, fast (think BMW M but in Korean) N Line is a natural extension of the high-performance brand. As with the likes of Ford's ST-Line or Volkswagen's R-Line, it gives you the more muscular appearance of the hottest Hyundais, and some of the performance, but not quite the full hi-po package.
"With the New Tucson N Line, Hyundai now provides the sporty feeling to customers who also want the versatility and comfort of an SUV. Tucson is our best-selling model in Europe and it is positioned right at the heart of our brand, so we are excited to introduce the N Line character to our customers in this segment" said Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, Vice President Marketing and Product at Hyundai Motor Europe.
The most powerful engine available in the Tucson N Line, for now at any rate, will be the 2.0-litre CRDI mild-hybrid diesel (already available in the regular Tucson, albeit not in Ireland yet) with 185hp. There's a 177hp 1.6 T-GDI petrol option too, and for the first time, Hyundai is fitting its 48-volt mild-hybrid tech to its 1.6-litre 136hp CRDI diesel, which apparently improved economy by as much as 11 per cent.
Hyundai says that the N Line Tucson isn't just a styling exercise either, but that it has tweaked suspension settings too, to go with the sportier looks. The springs are five per cent stiffer at the rear of the car, and eight per cent stiffer up front. The steering software has been updated too, for a more direct feel.
On the style front, there are new bumpers front and rear, and a mesh-patters grille. The N Line gets 19-inch dark-finish alloy wheels, black bezel headlights, special LED daytime running lights, and a dark finish for the window frames.
Inside, there are N-badged leather and suede seats, and red accent stitching on those and on the steering wheel. You also get alloy pedals and red highlights on the gearshift.
To celebrate the launch of the Tucson N Line, Hyundai has commissioned a BMW-esque 'Art Car' with bodywork painted in patchwork style by Andreas Preis, who is: "Renowned for his multi-faceted works of art. He specialises in illustration, murals and live paintings and likes to draw and paint portraits of abstract shapes and ornaments through a range of different mediums including paper, canvas, walls and wood."
The finished art includes little swatches of chequered flags and is meant to represent Hyundai's commitment to motorsport and high-performance models. You'll also spot the distinctive N baby blue colour, as seen on the i30N hot hatch and the i20 World Rally Championship cars.