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WELCOME TO HYUNDAI’S HAPPINESS MACHINE
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

Initial impressions aren’t exactly positive. The engine is plain, the five-speed manual's gearchanges loose and the brakes hopelessly spongy. But then you start noticing other things. The ride is utterly uncanny in its smoothness. You glide along, not quite smoothly enough to prevent those trim creaks, but in a way alien to MX-5 drivers. Closer, probably, to a contemporary Mercedes SL.

The steering is slow and springy but has some feel to it, it grips well and the chassis is always calm and composed. You tip it into corners with a good deal of roll, but it manages that well and it goes round easily. We wouldn’t quite call it eager, but it’s certainly competent. And when you accelerate out – the engine is far better over the second half of the rev counter – there’s no torque steer at all.

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Hang about, it’s not front-wheel drive is it?

It is. The Lotus was as well. Lotus struggled to sell that concept to buyers indoctrinated on rear-wheel-drive sports cars, but for Kia it was less of an issue. As was the car’s relaxed dynamic posture. That, at least, is something that’s been carried forwards to the latest Stinger.

Too much water has passed too fast under the bridge for there to be any other similarities. Few companies have advanced so fast and what’s most interesting about the Korean brands is that they’re always looking forward. Of course, their histories are too short for them to gain by looking backwards, too plain for worthwhile historical nods, but they also rarely go in for wacky concepts or frivolous ideas. Everything is designed to take the firm forwards. So to expect a reinvention of the Elan in Kia’s modern range is probably unwise.

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