Stylish Italians don’t drive SUVs – I wonder why….?


Just back from a Maserati event in Italy – and just about the only SUV I saw in two days was the company’s forthcoming Levante, due out at the end of this year.

Admittedly, that was on a top secret test track near Turin. Photography was banned and I was too slow to snap anything on my iPhone anyway. Profile looks like a BMX X6 though!

And I certainly didn’t see one Santa Fe. The Italians only seem to own Italian cars – they would buy a broomstick if it had FIAT written on the side.

So, it’s home from Heathrow in the  Hyundai. I’ve been averaging 41mpg in the big SUV. It’s not as pretty as a Maserati but the Santa Fe is great value for money…

SEAT Leon ST FR 180 TSI – Sensible Not Sexy?


Just for a brief moment today I had the Hyundai i40 on the driveway at the same time as the SEAT Leon ST. The two cars cost about the money and have had equally upbeat reviews.

However, Car Couture thinks you should always choose a motor that is as visually appealing as it is sensible – which means there is only one option here.

Yes, the i40. It’s by far the more attractive car. It has stylist lines, proper curves and doesn’t blend in with the crowd when you park it at Waitrose.

I can’t say there is anything wrong with the SEAT, it reminds me of the latest VW Golf in many ways, confidently refined but not about to set the world on fire.

I imagine that might change when I drive it to London tomorrow to watch Manchester City beat Arsenal. 180bhp is a lot of power for a car this size – it’s going to be an interesting week…

Hyundai i40 Tourer – The Lidl of The Automotive World…


Let’s be honest, there was a time when people only bought an Hyundai because it was value for money. It was the Lidl supermarket of the automotive world – alongside Kia and Proton.

Now, just like Lidl, the Korean company is thriving and we are buying loads of them, instead of stalwart favourites from Ford and Vauxhall.

The i40 goes today and we think it’s one of the best offerings from the Hyundai stable. Great to look at inside and out, practical, reliable and still relatively good value for money.

With a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, anyone looking for medium-sized family estate would be crazy not to take one for a test drive.

We have a SEAT Leon ST FR coming today – perhaps a good comparison for the Hyundai but with a more sporty edge…


Hyundai i40 – Beeping Cars, Do We Need Them?


Beeping cars – do we need them? Sounds like a good Tweet. It’s often American motors that have been designed for people who live their life surrounded by safety nets.

You know, cars that have phrases like ‘objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear’ stickers on them, or people who consciously note that a McDonald’s apple pie may have ‘contents that are hot’.

It seems the world is slipping towards a giant safety net to ensure corporations aren’t sued for building cars that ‘might run you over’ if you step out in front of them.

The i40 has it’s fair share of beep warnings. Most are linked to the keyless ignition and can be infuriating. I don’t need a car that tells me I have left the key inside, or in gear, or that I’m reversing too close to the car behind. I know, I can see it over my shoulder.

Where will we be in 50 years time I wonder? It could all be a beeping nightmare…

Hyundai i40 – Silly Car Names, What’s Yours Called?


I’m just setting off to London to interview Tin-Tin Ho. The 16-year-old is a British table tennis protege and she’s going to give me a masterclass in the art of ping-pong.

Her father is obsessed with the game and named her brother Ping – at one point almost naming his daughter Pong too!

Finding the right name for a car is a major task and doesn’t always go right. There was the Dodge Swinger, Honda Life Dunk, Skoda Yeti, Renault Wind, Suzuki Every Joypop Turbo and the Mazda Bongo Friendee.

No wonder Hyundai uses the globally safe i40 – one of the few names beginning with an ‘i’ that isn’t owned by Apple…

Hyundai i40 Tourer – Cute But No Match For A BMW 3 Series


Just for a moment I thought the BMW 3 Series Touring was about to be toppled as my favourite, small family estate car. I was seduced by the lines and styling of the i40 – even prettier than the BMW I thought.

Unfortunately, while the Hyundai is an admirable performer, it just can’t compete with the 3 Series for performance and drivability. The BMW handles like a sports car and is exciting to drive – the i40 is lukewarm by comparison.

You might well expect this from a car that costs considerably less than the BMW but I just wish the Koreans could make a slightly quicker version, then I’d be seriously tempted to buy one.

As it is, the classy looks of the Hyundai aren’t matched by the engine under the bonnet. The 136bhp model we are testing reaches 60mph in 12 seconds, sluggish when compared to many of its key rivals…


Hyundai i40 Tourer – Why Losing Your Car Key Is No Longer The Hassle It Used To Be


September 6 Why is it we still have to mess about with car keys? Pretty much every vehicle Car Couture test these days either has keyless ignition – which means the little fob usually just stays in my pocket, or stashed in the centre console.

The downside is that it’s much easier to lose the bloody thing. Putting a key in the ignition means you know exactly where to find it, every time.

So when I couldn’t find the key to the i40 yesterday, there was the usual moment of headless chicken panic. You only discover a missing key when you actually need it after all.

i40 has keyless recognition, so at least I knew it wasn’t in the vicinity of the car. I’d worn three coats on Friday, so instead of searching through the pockets, all I had to do was bundle them all out to the car and see if the Hyundai ‘recognised’ them hidden in a pocket.

Nope. Thins were getting pretty desperate when I carried he kitchen bin out to the driveway, just in case the key had been accidentally lost in there. The Hyundai didn’t register a thing. Finally, having taken the dog tot he vet earlier, I hauled his basket out to the i40 et voila!

Tucked down inside was the key. Relief. Still, it can’t be long before we have fingerprint sensor pads or voice recognition to make it even easier…

Hyundai i40 Tourer – More Stylish Than A BMW 3 Series Touring?


September 5 My favourite estates are built by BMW. I’ve owned a string of 3 and 5 Series, brilliant cars that combine decent load space with great performance. They are sports cars with a large boot.

Yep, if it’s all about luggage capacity, go buy a Volvo. However, if you have children and still want to cut loose when they’re not in the car, there’s very little to rival the Beemer.

The i40 has just arrived at Car Couture and it looks every inch as good as the pictures. Better perhaps, because the interior is seriously cool. Imagine that – a Hyundai with a funky dashboard!

Looking at the spec sheet, it appears to have plenty of standard equipment as well. Even the entry model features alloys, Bluetooth, air con and auto lights and wipers. The Premium adds leather, panoramic sunroof and keyless entry.

The question is, will it drive anywhere near as good as the BMW – or is the i40 just a cheaper, poor imitation?

Sunday – 7-Year Itch


I wonder what I’ll be doing in seven years, or 100,000 miles time? I’m not entirely sure how manufacturers work out a warranty period but Kia and parent company Hyundai offer such a lengthy deal on all their new cars.

It’s easier for me to imagine seven years than 100,000 miles. I have friends who clock up 30,000 miles a year but despite a love of interesting vehicles, the thought of sitting in a driver’s seat for that long every 12 months is bum-achingly painful.

It would take me six years to hit the ton, therefore Kia must regard me as almost average when it comes to annual miles. So perhaps this is a good moment to point out that the Sportage wouldn’t be my first choice of companion.

I love the way it looks and funky colour but the ride is rather bumpy. The Kia is not blessed with refinement or strong handling either. I imagine the Sportage is due a mid-life re-vamp in 2015. I say leave the styling as it is and concentrate on the suspension…

Thursday – Fine Tuning


What is it about the Veloster that’s missing? All week I’ve been trying to put my finger on it. Maybe the lack of power, the okay steering, or the trim materials that are way behind an Audi TT perhaps?

It’s hard to find a major fault with this Hyundai but there are a lot of niggling issues which, when added together, make this feel like a car that falls just short.

And that’s a shame because the edgy styling, both inside and out, suggest the Veloster is going to be a lot better than it actually is. I really wanted it to be a great car but it needs some work to compete with key rivals in the coupe sector.

People just love to stare at the Veloster and you can understand why. However, it’s only when you live with it for a week that the realities of ownership appear.

I wanted to love the Hyundai – it deserves to be loved – but it’s a car that needs some fine tuning to find a place in my heart.