YOU have to applaud Hyundai for the rapid pace of its development.
In a short period of time it has transformed from a cheaper alternative to mainstream models into a real big hitter playing the likes of Ford, Vauxhall, and Skoda on a level playing field.
Having renewed every model in its portfolio in the past five years, Hyundai has capitalised on its strength in smaller cars and placed a lot of emphasis on models like the i20.
One of the most interesting variants is the i20 Active, an SUV-shaped car with a lot to offer.
This classy crossover is certainly an eye-catcher and is also a money saver courtesy of one of its latest engine options, the turbocharged 998cc three-cylinder petrol.
This lively 100ps unit is mated to a neat five-speed manual gearbox on the test car, a 1.0T-GDI and endows the vehicle with a top speed of 116mph and 0-62mph acceleration of 10.7 seconds.
This nippy number can return a combined economy figure of 62.8mpg and all for a low emissions figure of 104 g/km.
Occupying that ground between a hatchback and SUV the Active rides 20mm higher than the i20 five-door upon which it is based and adds chunky bumpers, skid plates, side skirts and cladding, fog lamps and roof rails for a more rugged look.
This is no mere rehash of the hatchback because around half of the bodywork is unique to the Active which struts its stuff in its own particular style.
Its performance is amazing for a three-cylinder engine which only makes its loss of one pot apparent by a slight vibration at tick-over. But the zippy acceleration and nimble characteristics make up for this and place this vehicle at the forefront of modern petrol power engineering.
Ride quality is firm and the Active is composed and firm in cornering.
Many buy cars such as this for the more elevated driving position which is a true bonus. And then there is the added bonus of more head and leg room over your average hatch.
The i20 Active comes with new projector headlamps with daytime-running lights and cornering lamps and is very well equipped with a raft of kit such as six-speaker DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning and the like.
At under £16,000 this is a car very much in the Hyundai's philosophy of making affordable cars. It drives beautifully, is easy on the pocket and has to have a very bright future.