Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Koreans are Here



During the last month or so I've become increasingly conscious of Korean-made vehicles.

There are two reasons for this.

The first is that my second son's beloved drives a ten-year old Hyundai Excel. The two of them – against my best advice – drove it from Toowoomba to Adelaide last month via Broken Hill. That's quite a journey at the hottest time of the year. Apparently said Excel didn't miss a beat. Given its age and the kilos covered since it was new, that to me is

remarkable.

The other reason is that I've covered about 5000kms in the last two months in a Hyundai Santa Fe in my rural support job. This is a very basic turbo charged diesel with a five speed auto, but it is a great work tool. Once you get over the fake wood grain on the dashboard and the hard plastic interior, it's a very impressive piece of kit. It cruises well, is very economical (8 lit/100km on a trip), and handles outback roads with aplomb.

These products of the giant Hyundai industrial complex have some features in common. They're very competitively priced, well-equipped for the money, and built like the proverbial brick dunny.

The most impressive aspect of Hyundai in particular and Korean cars in general, is the model-by-model improvement. It's quite remarkable, and despite the depressed state of the market, is reflected in a steadily improving market share.

I've only ever owned one Korean car – a 1999 Kia Carnival that I bought new when we had four kids under fifteen. Despite their poor reputation, this particular vehicle proved to be roomy, reliable, and took us many times to FNQ* on our annual winter pilgrimage to visit my wife's family.

The best aspect of Korean motoring is reading the owner's handbook. For example – "Although it is harmless, the fine dust given off when the pre-tensioner deploys may cause skin irritation and should not be breathed for long periods. Wash your hands and face thoroughly after an accident in which the pre-tensioner seat belts were activated".

Well there you go…..

* Far North Queensland

2 comments:

Boy on a bike said...

I rented a small Hyundai a few years ago for a trip from Perth to Margaret River. That car was simply not built for an Australian summer. The enormous, and raked windscreen let in a huge amount of sun (and heat), and the air con had no hope of coping. We were better off driving with the windows down.

It also had the braking characteristics of a badly built billy cart.

But as you say, they improve in leaps and bounds from model to model. Those Koreans are no slouches!

felix said...

I had a 2000 Kia Carnival. Build quality was a bit dodgy compared to the Mazda I have now but all in all an excellent family vehicle. I believe it was the first with sliding doors on both sides and loved the walk through feature. Never felt comfortable in the rear seat of a Tarago. There was a feeling of being trapped behind the middle row of seats. The Carnival was often unfairly compared with the Honda Odyssey and Mazda MPV while the 15-20k price difference was conveniently ignored.

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