THERE was a time, in the not too dis­tant past, when the Hyundai badge was syn­ony­mous with a some­what in­fe­rior prod­uct and word on the street was it did not make good cars.

Please take care­ful note of the past tense be­cause I can as­sert, with­out fear of con­tra­dic­tion, that those days are well and truly his­tory.

When I pulled up out­side the con­ven­tion cen­tre for the photo shoot, the pho­tog­ra­pher’s ini­tial re­ac­tion said it all: ‘‘ Wow – it cer­tainly doesn’t ‘say’ Hyundai any more does it’’.

If the ad­mir­ing looks from passersby on their way to the wave pool are any in­di­ca­tion, then Hyundai may be on to a win­ner here.

On com­ple­tion of the photo shoot, when we were leav­ing the Water­front precinct, I cruised past one of the se­cu­rity guards, who said in pass­ing ‘‘beau­ti­ful’’ – he could have been re­fer­ring to me or the car. I sin­cerely hope it was the lat­ter.

This car is packed with fea­tures, rang­ing from the key­less en­try and start, seven-inch multi-me­dia touch screen, Sat-Nav, stylish panic han­dles, ful­l­length panoramic sun roof (for that wind in your hair feel­ing) through to the in­te­rior, pur­pose­fully de­signed for the dig­i­tal age.

The list goes on.

Coupe, but not re­ally, with that quirky third door

1.6-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der petrol engine 150kW/265Nm

6-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion, fron­twheel-drive (also avail­able as a 6-speed au­to­matic)

6.8l/100km 5 stars ANCAP 1307kg

When clos­ing the door there is a com­fort­ing, res­o­nant, solid thunk – al­most BMW-like – a Ger­manic qual­ity al­most.

There is a third door that opens kerb­side, so pas­sen­gers can alight safely onto the foot­path.

I was ini­tially con­cerned about the in­te­rior size of the cabin as I stand 193cm (6ft 4ins) but once inside I was pleas­antly sur­prised to dis­cover that there was plenty of room.

Around town I had to re­strain my­self, as the twin­scroll turbo-charged engine is sim­ply ask­ing to be used and ‘‘abused’’.

The ve­hi­cle is de­cep­tively fast. I re­ally had to watch my­self around the city when pulling away from the traf­fic lights.

Put your foot down while in fourth, fifth or even sixth gear on the open road and the re­sponse is im­me­di­ate – and most en­joy­able.

Un­for­tu­nately, the test drive came to an end all too soon and with the icy cold air cool­ing the cabin, just the ticket on a hot steamy build-up day, re­luc­tantly drove the ve­hi­cle back to the deal­er­ship.

Al­though ‘‘sexy’’

is a word more as­so­ci­ated with ac­tor Pamela An­der­son in her prime, dare I say this car has a cer­tain ap­peal that al­most war­rants use of that par­tic­u­lar ad­jec­tive. Neg­a­tives? Prob­a­bly that I can’t af­ford one just now. This is a great car with im­per­ti­nent,

If the ad­mir­ing looks from passersby on their way to the wave pool are any in­di­ca­tion, then Hyundai may be on to a win­ner here

al­most rak­ish, good looks and do not for­get to check out the less-than-dis­creet pair of bazooka-style ex­haust out­lets – awe­some.

Three words to sum­marise: I want one – no, se­ri­ously – funky, fast and stylish. This ve­hi­cle is avail­able from the NT Au­to­mo­tive Group (Hyundai) in Win­nel­lie. So call in to see Mark Jipp (aka Jip­pie) – a font of in­for­ma­tion – who has been sell­ing cars in Dar­win for 20-plus years and take this splen­did pock­etrocket for a test drive. It will not dis­ap­point.

The friendly staff can pro­vide you with more de­tails and the ‘‘low­down’’ on this zippy car.

The ve­hi­cle I road-tested is the Veloster SR Turbo ver­sion and is avail­able for $35,990 drive­away.

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