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


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

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...