Every time a new Hyundai or Kia comes out, it is next to impossible for journalists not to look at the car and go, “Ooh, look at how very European it is.”
Of course, the reason for this is that the Korean brands have made stratospheric leaps in design, quality and brand appeal in a short few years, and yet passing time has failed to erase the memory of models such as the Hyundai Pony.
So, with every new launch it’s irresistible to point out how complete the transformation has been for Hyundai and Kia, to the extent that they have the same relationship with past models as Katie Price has with Peter Andre. In other words they are technically completely unattached, and they’d much rather you didn’t bring the subject up... yet still you can’t think of one without mentioning the other.
But it’s a subtle and significant difference with the Hyundai ix35. It’s not just trying to be good value and good quality, it’s also trying to be desirable. And it manages it. Not in a drool-inducing, poster-worthy ‘I want one’ kind of way, but nonetheless it’s a car that ticks all the boxes for the style-conscious soft-roader buyer. It’s modern and clean-looking on the outside, and a nice place to be on the inside, and for most buyers the price and standard equipment will far outweigh the niggling dynamic shortcomings.
So congratulations, Hyundai. You’ve made a car that successfully competes in a segment based almost entirely on image. That states more clearly than ever that, though the company is Korean, the cars are well and truly European.