A NEW crossover SUV designed specifically for Europe, the Hyundai Bayon is the smallest member of the brand's expanding SUV family but that doesn't mean it's the weakest. Far from it.
Despite its compact exterior, there's an impressively roomy interior, and a long list of intelligent safety and connectivity features which make it stand out in its segment.
For instance, in the cabin there's a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and - on the Premium trim here - a simple to use 10.25-inch colour touchscreen providing DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Occupants also benefit from blue LED ambient lighting.
Two USB ports for the front passengers and one for the rear make it possible for up to three devices to charge simultaneously.
The rear seat reaps the benefit of a relatively long 2,580mm wheelbase, which allows back seat passengers an excellent amount of legroom though, because of the crossover design, taller passengers might find the headroom a little cramped.
There's a 334-litre boot, which can be extended to 1,205-litres with the split-folding rear bench pushed flat. The tailgate opens wide for easy access, and there's an adjustable boot floor that can be configured to sit flush with the loading edge.
All models - SE Connect, Premium, and Ultimate - are powered by a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. Two versions are available, one with 99bhp, the other with 118bhp. There's a thrifty six-speed Intelligent Manual Transmission (IMT) as standard or an optional seven-speed dual clutch automatic.
IMT disengages the engine from the transmission when the driver releases the accelerator. This allows the vehicle to start coasting, reducing emissions and saving fuel. Drive modes are Eco, Normal and Sport.
Premium trim models come with 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, automatic LED headlights with high beam assist, LED rear combination lamps, auto windscreen defog, electric folding door mirrors, cruise control, rear parking sensors, a rear view camera, automatic air conditioning and heated steering wheel.
What helps set the Bayon apart from its current rivals is the amount of semi-autonomous driving features available. The mid-range Premium model comes with lane keep assist with lane departure warning and emergency braking assist which includes car, pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as junction turning, which can apply the brakes to prevent a collision with an oncoming car when turning left at an intersection.
There's also driver's attention warning for when your focus slips, and hill start assist. In case of an accident, eCall will automatically alert emergency services if the vehicle's airbags are deployed.
Now, that doesn't mean you can drive it like a supercar. The Bayon is focused on everyday useability, practicality and efficiency. The 118bhp engine pulls strongly but is not going to win many traffic light tear-ups. This model officially returns 53.3mpg so I was short of that in my 40.8mpg.
With its focus on useability, the size of the Bayon is perfect for dashing through town or tight country roads and villages. The engine can be a touch noisy under hard acceleration and a little thrummy at motorway speeds, but otherwise the Bayon is a comfortable and refined affair.