Pacific Spin

Top Gear, the world’s most popular car programme, sometimes lands it presenters in a spot of bother.

I was recently reminded of one such occasion. A few years ago they tested a group of cars from Pacific Rim countries – such as the Kia Rio, or Proton Gen2. Their verdict was that driving such vehicles is about as uninspiring an automotive experience as you are likely to get, because “they are built like white goods” – and to illustrate their point they made a car entirely from home appliances, which wasn’t any good either.

All very amusing from our smug, European, we-make-the-best-cars-in-the-world perspective. But I remember thinking at the time that one day even the Top Gear Jesters will have to give a proper review of a vehicle that hails from Korea, or Malaysia, or of course China. My recollection of the aforementioned episode occurred when I clapped eyes on a Hyundai i40 Tourer in the metal for the first time. Heavens, I thought. They’ve upped their game.

So what has this to do with vehicle testing? Well it’s this: Hyundai have just announced a €5.5 million investment in a test centre based at the Nurburgring in Germany – the emphasis being on ride and handling, as the facility allows for direct access to the track. I suspect that a Hyundai developed on a race circuit is likely to have better dynamics than your average washing machine.

Watch out VW/Porsche/Mercedes/BMW (delete as appropriate) – the Pacific Rim chaps have suddenly become serious.

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