Before N - Tuscani #2

Technology that Goes Beyond Expectations


In the previous story on Tuscani, we dealt with the strong chassis that has been innovatively improved and the achievement of an even greater driving experience based on the high capacity engine, as well as its record-breaking performance at the 24 Hours Nürburgring.

In this story, we will feature the stories from the developer who put all his energy into meeting the goal of enhancing the driving experience, and the two customers who became ardent Tuscani fans.

“I wanted to deliver genuine ‘joy of driving’ through Tuscani.”
- Chung Woon-jo, the former developer of Tuscani at Hyundai Motor

Chung Woon-jo

Please introduce yourself.

Hello. My name is Chung Woon-joh, and I work at the chassis and suspension team II at the Hyundai Namyang R&D Center. I was in charge of Project GK, with a focus on developing Tuscani’s steering and suspension. I was also part of the development team of Genesis Coupe, the front engine rear drive sports (FR) model.

What was the goal of Tuscani development back then?

A follow-up sports model after Tiburon was required to offer elements that could promote the brand image, not only in the Korean market but also overseas. For this, we oriented our plan towards the “development of a sports car that could add genuine joy to driving”. However, we were not developing a circuit-exclusive car; so we had to work very hard on striking the optimal balance to produce a ride that feels satisfactory and to guarantee the driving performance in terms of the steering and suspension aspects.


What kind of elements did you work on to meet that goal?

Basically, we installed the gas type shock absorber for Tuscani’s suspension. We particularly focused on tuning the damper, the core part of suspension. For this, we cooperated with SACHS of Germany; we analyzed the various frequencies and forces of the damping values exclusive to the sports car. We were then able to come up with a suspension that could smoothly absorb the shock from the ground, while providing sporty handling performance. As a result, we were able to increase the stability for both low and high speeds by reducing the upper and lower movement of the chassis compared to the Tiburon’s chassis.

How did you solve the problem of weight allocation of Elisa with a 6-speed transmission engine?

With the high capacity engine, the weight was inclined to the front wheels, which may have led to decline in the handling performance. To resolve this problem, we strived for the optimal suspension setting where stable driving was possible by minimizing unnecessary movement in the chassis. Another part we worked hard on was the improvement of electronic stability control (ESC) for better handling control in extreme situations. After much effort, we were able to remedy the shortcoming of the weight allocation and achieve a stable, yet solid driving performance.

Chung Woon-jo

What does Tuscani mean for you as a developer?

Hyundai Motor worked hard on continuing the history of developing Korean-made sports cars with its Scoupe, Tiburon and Tuscani. In particular, Tuscani reflected various innovations based on the R&D center’s advanced technology, and I believe this has contributed greatly to the development of the front engine front drive sports model. While working hard to continue the history of the one and only sports car line up in Korea, we strived to study the driving performance, reflecting the needs of the car enthusiasts who wanted dynamic driving. The engineers’ passion paved the way for the development of the front engine rear driving sports model, going beyond the front wheel driving sports models.

“Every single part stirred a sense of driving adventure.”
- Kim Ri-hyung & Kwon Sun-ho, former Tuscani owners

Mr. Kim Ri-hyung and Mr. Kwon Sun-ho, known for being car enthusiasts, are close acquaintances whose love of cars have led them to spend a lot of time together. In particular, they became closer friends as they both owned Tuscani.

Through the interviews with these two car enthusiasts, we found out that Tuscani was a car that won many “firsts” in Korea and is still known among aficionados as the car that adds a sense of joy to the driving experience.

Kim Ri-hyung & Kwon Sun-ho, former Tuscani owners

How did you first get your Tuscani?

Kim Ri-hyung (hereafter “Kim”): I’ve previously owned all of Hyundai’s sports cars - Scoupe and Tiburon. That led me to have high expectations of Tiburon’s follow-up model; I was eagerly awaiting the launch date. I still remember Tuscani’s official launch date – September 7, 2001. At that time, I had just finished my military service, so I was not able to afford one. However, in the light of the special sales promotion, which involved “paying only the interest rate in the first three years and paying the principal over the next 2 years”, I went and got one. The one that I bought was the first model of 2.0 GTS premium manual model. Due to the immense popularity and frenetic pace of sales, I was only able to get it two months after the contract.

Kwon Sun-ho (hereafter “Kwon”): My decision to buy a Tuscani was greatly influenced by Ri-hyung doing so. Ri-hyung took his Tuscani out for a ride, all eyes were on him. At that time, a sports car was not for anyone; it was like a comet blazing along the road. When I saw Ri-hyung with his Tuscani, I really wanted to buy one. I spoke about my decision to Ri-hyung; he said that I would regret not buying an Elisa. As I greatly trust his judgment, I bought a 2005 2.7 liter Elisa manual model, which was the first facelift version. It was my first 6-speed, 2 door sports car.

Kim Ri-hyung's Tuscani 2.0 GTS (original model)

Kim Ri-hyung's Tuscani 2.0 GTS (original model)

What was your first impression of Tuscani?

Kim: Due to the innovative straight lines, in contrast to Tiburon’s curvy muscular lines, Tuscani had many fans and haters alike. But once you looked at it more closely, there were many things that were attractive - the wing-like side mirrors directly attached to the doors, the fuel cap resembling one in a race car. What I liked most about Tuscani were the dual mufflers that were adopted for the first time in a Korean-made car. As for the 17-inch aluminum wheel and tires, the general car service station said that they were not able to attach or detach the wheels because they were just too big, and I know this would be something laughable now.

Kwon Sun-ho's Tuscani 2.7 Elisa (F/L 1 model)

Kwon Sun-ho's Tuscani 2.7 Elisa (F/L 1 model)

Kwon: It’s just occurred to me that Tuscani had so many “firsts”. Speaking of the tires, I was astonished that Tuscani Elisa had the Michelin pilot sports tires. I also felt that I was driving a genuine sports car with its red room lights. In addition, the button texture and feeling of operation were better than in any other cars, and this gave me the impression that Hyundai cares about even the most minute part – the button texture. In addition, there were small details like the Elisa-exclusive chrome door handles, Elisa exclusive rear spoilers and red aluminum calipers that made it a more thrilling experience.

투스카니 엔진룸

Elisa’s spec seems really exquisite, reflecting the time of its launch.

Kim: That’s right. In early 2000s, if you bought a car, you had to go to Janghanpyeong to change the seat and tune the audio; it was like a ritual. One of the rituals was to change the strut bar into the one that was installed in Tuscani. At that time, Tuscani’s strut bar was considered a “must have” item among car enthusiasts. The strut bar was adaptable to different cars without any special processing and you could feel a significant difference after installing it. Although different in appearance, you would see that all the cars were tuned to have an Elisa strut bar in the upper part of the engine room when you open the hood.

Kwon: All the specs of Elisa worked to make the high performing model appear sportier. The thoroughly-weaved leather sports bucket seat gave you a feeling of being totally “unified” with the car during high speed driving. In addition, the Harman’s Becker deck and premium audio system with JBL speakers added a lot more fun to driving.

Kim Ri-hyung & Kwon Sun-ho, former Tuscani owners

How did driving a Tuscani feel?

Kim: Tuscani’s special trait was certainly the power created by the strengthened car body. When I first drove the 2.0 GTS at a high speed, I was astonished by its stability; it was something I had never experienced with other Korean-made sports cars. But I felt the need for more power; in fact, the aftermarket’s Tuscani-exclusive turbo kit was highly popular among 2.0 owners. Hyundai may have known about this demand; in 2002, Hyundai officially launched the 2.0 GL model. The new model lowered the very basic price by removing the convenience facilities that were previously part of the basic model, or by making them an option to choose from. So even if you changed the turbo turning, seat and bumper of a GL model, it still cost as much as a GTS model. I believe the company were well aware of the needs of the enthusiasts, for whom driving performance was a priority.

Kwon: I changed from Tiburon to Tuscani Elisa. I was satisfied with the acceleration due to its high 2.7 liter capacity. The maximum output was 175 ps, but when you drove it, you would feel it was above that level; I felt that I was driving a car over 200 ps. So I really didn’t have any complaints about the performance, even recently. In addition, the Elisa-exclusive suspension and 6-speed manual transmission that was fun to control really made driving a joy.

Tuscani was the symbol of the Korean-made sports car that upheld the global brand image of Hyundai Motor. Based on the solid chassis, it was evaluated as a car that greatly enhanced the driving experience with its strong powertrain and sports suspension. Tuscani’s accomplishments at the 24 hours Nürburgring, the toughest circuit on earth, certainly prove it.

In fact, Tuscani’s one and only goal, making driving a joy, is now inextricably connected to the Hyundai N spirit. This is why we look forward to the future of N, which aims for a newer high performing car with much improved performance and differentiated experience based on the technology acquired from the world of motorsports. This is it about the story of Tuscani, yet its heritage will live forever.

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