The Santa Fe was the car that turned Hyundai into a serious player in the UK car market. Before it the Korean firm was known for offering cheap cars that were pretty dire by Western European standards but by launching an eye-catching, chunky-looking but more importantly competent SUV the brand immediately gave itself some much needed street cred. Now we have a third generation model only this time it makes up part of a car range that doesn't really have a weak link. So is the Santa Fe still the pick of the Hyundai crop?
Back in 2006 Audi launched what it called a product firework - the idea was that like a branching firework all its ranges would spin off as many niche models as was commercially feasible so there would be an Audi for everyone. Hence the Q3, Q5 and Q7, the various cabriolet models and now the ever expanding A3 range. The latest model is something is a step into the unknown though because small, premium saloons don't traditionally sell in the UK. China and the USA yes, Blighty and Germany no. Audi UK is being quite open about not really knowing how many A3 saloons it will sell so I took the entry level 1.4 model for a spin to see if it's likely to strike a chord with British motorists looking to trade up from the likes of a Golf or Focus.
This years Frankfurt Motors Show was all about plug-in hybrids. You could hardly get between stands for falling over power cables left lying around to underline that fact that you could plug the car at the end of them into a wall socket to charge its batteries and get some zero-tailpipe emissions motoring done. Of course it wasn't all hybrids, but it was impossible to navigate the halls and not come away with the impression that in ten years time most of us will be driving cars we can charge like our mobile phones even if they still have petrol or diesel engines under the bonnet.
Unless you really, really know your cars spotting the difference between the original Range Rover Sport and a Range Rover proper was a damnably difficult task. Even when the two were parked side-by-side it wasn't easy. Second time around though and it's a different story. In large part that's down to the Range Rover Evoque which is selling like hot cakes and clearly shows that a Range Rover-badged motor with a touch of style is an attractive offer even if the price is a bit on the high side. So it's perhaps not too surprising what what we have in the Mk. 2 Range Rover Sport is a car based on the Range Rover and sharing more than passing visual similarity to the funky Evoque. As a recipe that certainly works for me.
Earlier in the year Renault cut back on its UK range quite brutally making some people wonder in the French car maker was thinking about ducking out of the British market altogether. Not a chance. What La Reggie is doing is focusing in what it does best, small cars like the Megane and excellent new Clio, the electric Zoe, the budget Dacia range and now its funky looking entry into the small MPV/SUV/hatchback arena, the Captur (pronounced Capture).