Doesn't look too bad. Someone said Hyundai Coupe facelift and all I could think of was that mess they made of the original Coupe seven years ago...
We're equally relieved. This Coupe still looks pretty handsome overall - some even noted the resemblance to Ferrari's 456 when it was launched. And there's a good reason why Hyundai kept its designers on a tight leash: this car is more popular in the UK than BMW's 3-series coupe. So the cosmetic tweaks are limited to stretched headlights, a reshaped grille and new fog lights. There are new side air vents and some changes to the rear too including new lamps and exhaust trims. Which distinguishes this model from the old one, but it's all a bit Halfords accessory department.
So that's the cosmetics dealt with. What else is new?
Er, that's pretty much it. There are some new paint colours, overpowering blue insrument lighting (a decade after Volkswagen did it on the Mk4 Golf) and some metal-effect trim on the centre-console and wheel. Oh, and an iPod connector, which is probably the best change of all. Mechanically, there are no changes at all. The four-cylinder engines (103bhp 1.6, 62mph in 11.9sec, yawn; and a 141bhp 2.0-litre, 62mph in 9.3sec, smaller yawn) and the 162bhp V6 we drove, are carried over.
No great changes then. And it is getting on a bit. Is it still good enough against newer competition?
That's the thing, there isn't really any competition any more, at least not at the £15,745 the entry-level 1.6 costs or the £17,995 you'll pay for the 2.0, unless you want a coupe-cabrio. Most manufacturers have abandoned traditional coupes in favour of folding tin-tops based on existing hatches. Step up to the V6 (£19,495) and things get more serious because you could have a beautiful Alfa GT for similar money. But then you might wish it had the Hyundai's five-year warranty. A £20k Alfa would be four-cylinder only, but even the Hyundai's V6 does not generate big power, the 2.7-litre unit delivering only 162bhp. So 62mph takes a fairly leisurely 8.4sec. Or 8.6sec with the rubbish four-speed (yes, four!) auto box. Either way, it's not quick in the context of a current hot hatch. It handles tidily but the ride is poor and the engine never feels athletic. But the biggest problem is the packaging. Anyone of average height or taller will find their head brushing the roof and there's a sticker warning you not to slam the tailgate without first getting back seat passengers to hunch forward in case you smash the rear hatch over their heads. This thing is seriously tight on space.
By sticking with the coupe formula while other manufacturers deserted it in their droves, Hyundai has made a success of the Coupe. But we can't really see what the fuss is about, why anyone would buy the V6 or 2.0 when they could have a Golf GTI for the same money. A sloping roofline isn't enough compensation for all the other problems in the face of cars that are faster, more economical, greener, better to drive, roomier, classier and have far more cred. At least the Hyundai is well equipped. But it's old and feels it. The recent changes seem to have made it appear tackier, too. Perhaps the most appealing version is the cheapest, the humble 1.6.