IF there were a prize given for the most improved model, it's a safe bet the latest Hyundai i40 would be in the running.
Always a smart, high-value range it nevertheless lacked something in the way of refinement and dynamics. Not that this criticism dented sales or bothered its loyal band of owners too much.
But last year, its makers pepped up the then three-year-old design with a meaningful nip and tuck.
As well as receiving a bolder, corporate front and a few body tweaks including LED daytime running lights, the engines were made more efficient, extra sound insulation improved the refinement and the ride was subtely transformed to put it on a par with European rivals.
While four-door, conventional saloons are no longer the flavour of the month, the i40 - also available in estate car form - offers a viable alternative to the Peugeot 508, VW Passat and Vauxhall Insignia.
Despite the low-slung wedge shape and the tapering roofline, the i40 - driven here in SE Nav form - is a genuine four-five seater with decent leg and headroom front and back.
The boot might be slightly less commodious than the Mondeo, but nevertheless manages to pack in 525 litres of cargo. The seats split and fold 60-40 to accommodate awkward loads.
If your needs demand a more versatile load space, the Tourer can absorb up to 1,700 litres of luggage with rear seats folded.
The cabin isn't exactly cutting-edge design but the plastic mouldings used for the dash and door trims are of good quality and the whole car feels well built and solid.
The SE Nav gets as standard heated seats, Bluetooth, electric seat adjustment, parking camera, front and rear sensors, rear privacy glass, DAB radio and, of course, touch screen sat nav.
Engineering changes to the suspension have transformed the i40's ride standard from mediocre to good.
No longer does it float over undulating surfaces or crash on harsh bumps. Passage over poor surfaces is now fluent and comfortable which benefits both handling and passenger comfort. Steering remains relatively light.
Emphasis is more on comfort rather than sharp handling. Nevertheless, the i40 has high levels of adhesion and is happy to be hustled around windy roads, albeit with a degree of body roll.
The 1.7-litre Blue Drive diesel is a real mile-stretcher and despite packing a reasonable 139bhp which endows it with suitably brisk acceleration, CO2 emissions are a tax efficient 114g/km which correspondents with an official 65.7mpg.
Real life running resulted in consumption of around the 46mpg during my tenure. A less powerful 113bhp diesel is also available.
The 139bhp diesel - no petrol version is available - is matched to a smooth six-speed manual gearbox. A dual clutch, seven-speed automatic transmission is available as an option.
A five year warranty and servicing pack inspire confidence to potential buyers.