Tale of the lucky and the strong
Hyundai is racing up the sales leagues, while a rescued kitten has used up one of its nine lives, writes Campbell Spray
BY THE time you read this, a kitten saved in extraordinary circumstances will have found a new home; probably with us.
I'll return to its adventures later -- and it is to do with motoring -- but at least it gave me an intro that didn't involve Hyundai.
Whether it is the Korean marque opening a new showroom, launching a new model or updating an old one, the pace of the march of the fastest growing brand keeps increasing. The success of the 140 saloon and tourer has been outstanding, notching up more than 1,200 sales from a base of almost nothing in the year. Tomorrow my colleague Martin Brennan will be at the important relaunch of the Santa Fe, which has been eagerly awaited as the previous model was a leader in the non-premium SUV market.
Over the last few weeks, I have been testing a number of Hyundai models including the successor to its much-loved coupe. The Veloster doesn't have the instant design appeal of its forbear but with an extra door on the passenger side, is far more useful. It also has the best rear-view camera I have found with a large screen on the dash. The car didn't really appeal to me as I found it rather lacking in character. But maybe it isn't my market.
I also drove the updated Fiesta-sized i20 hatchback at which Hyundai said it "had thrown the kitchen sink" to make an impact in that sector. Unfortunately I was driving the car during one of the hottest weeks of the year and the "kitchen sink" in my model didn't include air-conditioning, which was available as a €500 option with auto-headlights. I believe the company will now be offering air-con in a total package. However, alloys, camera in rear-view mirror and parking sensors, Bluetooth, rain sensors, stability control etc were included in a very competitive €15.5k for the 1.2 petrol, which would be my car of choice. The diesel is about €1,500 more but will have only 88g/km emissions, which is quite extraordinary.
The i20 is a really good car and, of course, has the five-year triple care warranty and assistance advantage.
And recent Hyundai activity doesn't stop there. A very composed Tourer (estate) version of the i30 has been launched with oodles of space. Strangely, though, while the two smaller cars had rear-view screens, the car that actually needed one didn't.
If you think you know Hyundai, think again or at least try and get in the mind of its pricing policy. The Tourer is beautifully adaptable and rides the road with a very confident sure-footedness which reminded me of much more expensive models. Anyone who wants a good family car with the extra utility of an estate would be crazy not to check it out.
But that's enough Hyundai as I'm sure Martin will be reporting on the Santa Fe. But when you are down to quibbling over reversing cameras, you know you have a very worthwhile brand. No wonder it is sitting at 5,000 sales for the year with its share up from 4.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent.
The kitten was actually found in the fast lane of the M50 by a very quick-thinking driver. Whether you should ever stop like that on a motorway is questionable and the consequences could have been disastrous. But the driver scooped kitty up and took him to our local vet, which is how we got involved. Apparently people have been dumping unwanted kittens by the sides of roads and motorways, knowing what fate probably awaits them. It is an absolutely horrible practice which will have dire results and not just for a harmless ball of fur.