ONE car maker that seems to have neatly driven around the gloom of recession is Hyundai, and a model that has kept it in the fast lane is the 1.6 version of the ix35 crossover.
This is one of the most price-advantageous alternatives to the conventional hatchback providing a neat SUV-style body with a commanding driving position, yet the running costs of a family car.
Hyundai claims that the combination of relatively low purchase price, economical running costs and high residuals mean that the ix35 is likely to cost less to run than a lot of mainstream family cars.
And the spotlight in the range is on the petrol powered 1.6 GDi which is now available with intelligent stop-go technology which means that the engine shuts down during short stops such as traffic lights and starts again as soon as the clutch is depressed.
And as always Hyundai is hot on specification including as standard air-conditioning electric front and rear windows, electronic stability programme, hill start assist and much more.
People are now focusing on specification levels because when the vehicle is sold on bells and whistles are sounding much louder in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
But there are a few optional extras to choose from and these include metallic paint, full leather seats, touch-screen sat-nav and a reversing camera.
What's more, all ix35's are backed up by Hyundai's five-year warranty and a 10-year anti-perforation corrosion warranty, meaning that what appears attractive in the showroom will remain just as appealing for years to come.
This package has meant that the ix35 receives an impressive set of residual value figures by industry experts CAP.
On the road the 1.6 GDI behaves extremely well and roadholding is so tenacious that you have to remind yourself that it is only 2WD. There are 4WD ix35 models, but this one did rather well with just two powered wheels.
For a direct injection petrol with a SUV body the 1.6 GDi was remarkably lively aided by a neat six-speed manual gearbox.
Nought to 60mph is attained in 11.1 seconds and top speed is a creditable 111mph. Fuel consumption is excellent with a combined figure of 44.1 mpg and the C02 rating is an impressive 149 g/km all helped by the stop/start system.
In terms of looks it is similar to a lot of 4x4s, especially the more expensive Ford Kuga, and attracts a lot of second glances even though it is actually two-wheel-drive and therefore cheaper to run.
If your budget does not extend to a pricey 4x4 SUV it might be an idea to give the ix35 a drive before going for a hatchback. The more I drove it the more I realised what a clever option it is.