It’s no secret that Korean cars from Hyundai and Kia have come on in leaps and bounds. But, not only are they now among the best value cars on the market, they’re also pretty dashing. Is it enough to catch your eye?
Models like the Kia Cee’d and Sportage, or the Hyundai i30 and ix35, have radically reshaped car buyers’ opinions of what Korean cars are all about – and probably left their owners feeling pleasantly surprised with their purchases.
More surprising still are some of the conversations we’ve been having in the Which? Car team lately.
Buying with our hearts or heads?
I still do an aural double-take when hearing comments such as: ‘I like the look of that Hyundai i40 Tourer outside’ or, ‘One of my neighbours has just bought the new Kia Rio in black, and it looks really smart!’
Is it just us? We have started to worry about whether something has changed in our collective aesthetic judgment, or whether Kia and Hyundai are now finally making cars that you might want to buy with your heart, not just your head…
For proof, look at the pictures of the new i30 above, versus the old model, below, or the new Kia Rio versus its predecessor. It’s almost as though they were designed two decades apart.
Old versus new
The old i30 was (and still is) a great car in many very rational ways, but good-looking it isn’t. It took many of the less popular design ingredients of its contemporaries and blended them into an unappetising dish.
The new one, on the other hand, is more eye-catching than the Ford Focus and more adventurous than a VW Golf. And it makes the new Honda Civic and Toyota Auris look awkward and aimless, in turn. Dare I say it, but Hyundai has just released pictures of the new i30 estate, and even that looks rather dashing…
So, either the Which? Car team has lost the plot, or Korean carmakers are finally throwing off their erstwhile image problem with gusto.
Of course, beauty is much more than skin deep, and our road and lab tests reveal whether these new models are able to keep pace with their established European and Japanese competitors. But, with market-leading warranties, and cars that you’d actually feel quite proud to park on your drive, surely there are now more reasons than ever to buy a Korean car?
Would you consider buying a Korean car? Or maybe you already own one? If so, please tell us what you think of it in our 2012 Which? Car Survey. You could win £10,000 for taking part.