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THE evolution of Korean car maker Hyundai cannot be ignored.
According to the manufacturer their products were ridiculed some 15 years ago in countries such as the US and United Kingdom.
Things have gradually improved and Hyundai now duels with the big guns of the motor industry.
Despite the recession that has hit the market, Hyundai is not suffering as badly as other brands.
The manufacturer has adopted a strategy to focus on an entry-level car. The latest addition to the Hyundai family was launched last week in Gauteng.
Getting inside the i20, I couldn't dismiss the manufacturer's statements as mere publicity stunts. The utterances about the quality of their vehicles proved to be true.
The route I took was not too long, but long enough to showcase the i20's capabilities on the road.
Having attended a number of Hyundai launches in the past few years, I can confirm that the Koreans have come a long way.
My colleague Bruce Fraser can confirm this as he owns a 1995 Accent that is still going strong.
The i20 is the second car reflecting the "i-generation" after the introduction of the i10, which is available with a 1,2-litre engine in manual and automatic versions.
The i20 is available in a pair of generously specced models, one powered by a 1,4- and the other by a 1,6-litre unit; in both cases driving the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox.
At first glance it is obvious that plenty of effort and attention has been focused on providing an eye-catching exterior design.
The overall effect is dramatic and striking.
The sheet metal is stretched tautly over its wheels, with a wide stance that enhances the sporty effect.
The i20 is unashamedly a fashion statement and while it is sensible in terms of being a smart design, it isn't shy and retiring.
The visual appeal starts with a distinctive wing that runs above the grille, with a chromed "H" logo.
Elongated, teardrop-shaped headlights accentuate the athleticism of the nose while the lower air intake melds seamlessly into the bumper for an aerodynamic effect. The roofline has a downward curve to the point where it meets the rear light, the effect being a pert and sporty rump.
Aesthetic appeal was the overriding consideration in penning the final shape and the stance is purposeful, thanks to a wide track width accentuated by 185/60 tyres on 15-inch wheels.
However, one cannot ignore the new Hyundai's similarities to the Opel Corsa.
Power 1,4-litre: 74kW
Torque 1,4-litre: 136Nm
Power 1,6-litre: 91kW
Torque 1,6-litre: 156Nm