Monday – From Unlikely Beginnings

Jeremy – About the same time my father acquired his second Datsun 120Y (not easy to own up to), Hyundai launched the Pony hatchback on an unsuspecting British public. It was Korea’s first mass-produced car and, thankfully, you won’t see many around today because the Pony never achieved classic status.

It was developed by George Turnbull – the former MD of Austin Morris – and a team of five other Brits hired by Hyundai. Styled in Italy by Giugiaro, it was instantly forgettable, apart from the headlights, which did a good impression of a Ford Capri.

That was 1982 and how times have changed. Hyundai Motor Group (which incorporates Kia) is now the world’s fourth largest car manufacturer. It operates the world’s largest car plant too. The Ulsan site can produce a staggering 1.6 million cars every year and employs 35,000 people.

Our third generation Santa Fe must be one of the best Hyundai models ever produced. In long wheelbase, seven-seat form it really is a masterclass of an SUV – a fact confirmed by huge sales in the USA, where they know their SUVs. You’re not getting German design standards on the inside but in terms of looks, value-for-money and equipment levels, I think you would be hard pushed to find a better option.

Fortunately, CarCouture has escaped the worst of the weekend snow so we can’t report on its 4×4 abilities. We have the Santa Fe for another couple of days, so you never know…