Friday, 19 August 2011

Thanks, Hyundai!

I gave my (ad-free) blog soul to Hyundai today. I had to do it. They waved a family pass for Woburn Safari Park at me. So I considered the alternative - watching my spirit shrink as its owner sank on hands and knees to defrost the freezer - and I agreed. It seemed a fair exchange.

I had to agree to something else too. Shadowing a keeper for the day? suggested Tiger. No Tiger, something even more exciting than shoveling lemur shit and cutting up dead deer.

Driving a Hyundai car. Not any old Hyundai car, like the beat up specimen that lives in our 'hood at 32 Arbuckle Street - the one with dents in the bonnet where the local gangmaster took a hammer to it. No, this is a proper upmarket Hyundai car. The new i40 tourer diesel thingy, available in your showroom from September, from where you can drive to Milan on a single tank of fuel, apparently.

As you can tell, I know nothing about cars.

I am not a car worshipper, am I? You don't get all that 'petrol-sipping, vigorous interior, crisp graphic dash, hydraulically-assisted steering' round here. No. You get the practical horror of rattling several thousand miles around England with three kids in the rear, locked in mortal combat over a rage-fuelled vendetta that started last Monday.

So I started this test-drive experience with kids in a proper spirit of terror. (You should see the Grit Mobile. It needs a valet like the clear-up after the Bosnian War, and it's got no corners.)

The moment I sat in it, I should have backed out. Because it is at that point I realise the godawful truth that in test driving this great Hyundai chunk of metal, it is someone else's chunk of metal and (the awful bit) I have to drive it around a safari park and bring it back with all its corners, lights and wing mirrors intact.

Then Gerald says, Not only that! You must make our metal go past the rhinoceros, and they have a history of taking a dislike to your face, so watch it.

Well, after the terror of sitting in the chunk of metal and making it go had sublimated into shouting at the children to shut up about the bloody windows, reason and thinking started to kick in.

Most importantly, I think someone should tell Hyundai about the handbrake problem and the fact there is no ignition key.

They may not know this. The designers obviously did what they wanted with the look and functionality of this car because they not only made the outside metal very physically curvaceous, they rejigged the inside, and did away with the handbrake.

Be warned. You must press the handbrake button! Do not sit there screaming surrounded by vindictive rhinoceroses while the chunk of metal has stalled, and is now gently rolling backwards. The poor sod of a driver in the vehicle behind is frantically banging his horn and making shock-filled faces at you in the rear view mirror.

But there are so many buttons to choose from!

It was close. They won't be inviting me to test drive their metal again. But I carried on! In the same spirit of fortitude as always!

I only forgot about the handbrake button a few times, and then forgot how to drive altogether because there's no ignition key to turn when it stalls (another button). Then there are buttons in the steering wheel (confusing) and buttons all over the dash (don't look at them). There are buttons for air con settings, buttons for seat positions (up, down, hot, cold). I half expect a button to make the ruddy thing sing the South Korean National Anthem as well.

Some of the gadgetry does help though. A little screen on the dash shows me how cak-handed is my reversing, and the headlights swivel round corners to show your parking space. Gerald made much of the strip lights on the front. He said - with one beady eye on me even before I'd switched the thing on - how daytime lights significantly cut down your daytime accident rate. Ahem.

I merely wonder what is the cost to repair this electronic gadgetry when it all breaks down. I mean, at one time we drove a Ford Galaxy people carrier, and when water hit the electrics, the whole thing went kaput. You would drive along, and the doors would spontaneously lock and unlock a dozen times, and the windows roll down. It even used to do it when no-one sat in it. We'd come out in a morning to find the car unlocked and the tax disc nicked. So, Hyundai, a sensible approach is to know the maintenance cost of your buttons.

On the actual test drive I brought the metal chunk to a shuddering halt maybe two dozen times, so there is definitely something funny going on there, apart from my limited driving skills. (Admittedly I never got into third gear, it was all so scary and button-driven.) Maybe the new i40 requires a confident foot, a widely experienced driver, and a man who likes buttons.

But you are desperate to hear how the children reacted, aren't you?

They hated the Hyundai i40 tourer, and I am being kind. They couldn't see out (rear seats sunk into metal). They couldn't see out (windows smoked). They couldn't see out (she is in my way, it is not fair, I always get the middle seat, there is no space, etc. etc.).

In a consoling voice, Gerald said the kids have ports in the rear to dock ipods and computer gadgets (more buttons).

Sadly, we do not have kids who tour in cars like that. We have kids who want to look out the ruddy windows.

With a note of pleading he adds how the kids can set their own air con temperature. (Oh, innocent child-free man! Imagine the endless fun on a six hour journey to Northumberland!) The main advantage I can see there, is that the boot is very large.

On the other hand, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger could not believe their luck that Hyundai would give them a free safari day pass merely in exchange for a test drive and a post on mama's dodgy blog. So Hyundai score very high on kid delight there. They also, unwittingly, gave us a great lesson on car design, manufacture and marketing.

Quickly then, in conclusion.

What the new Hyundai i40 tourer needs: A bloke (35-years plus), who says, 'I am successful and stable in my important career with my expensive car and impressively fragrant wife, and I have computerised children (only two of them) who do not want to look out of the windows. I play golf and like buttons.'

What the new Hyundai i40 tourer got: Grit (aged 50), who says, 'Good grief where is the sodding handbrake? Why is it all buttons? Shut up SHUT UP about the windows. This car would last five minutes on our street before someone keyed it. Your father will never pay the repair bill on these gadgets. We could keep the rock collection in the boot. Oh my god, I can't see the corners.'

What Hyundai wants: You, to test drive it, then buy it.


sharon said...

We have a little Hyundai Getz automatic which is now several years old. It runs on the sniff of an oily rag, has made no excessive inroads to our pockets beyond the usual maintenance things and we love it.

Kelly said...

Grit! We have so much in common. I also worked in advertising. I also got sacked. Well, almost. I quit just before. But I knew it was coming. However, here in Canada, we drive a Hyundai van, and we love it. Because everybody has their own WINDOW! All four of them have a window. The only problem is son three, age 16 and now 6'2", refuses to ride in the back, so when we all have to go someplace together, shorter members of the family must sit there. That means me. Or sometimes sons one and two. Who are not 6'2".

Deb said...

Vigorous Interior!

Sounds alarming, a little.

kelly said...

my car has a credit card instead of a key, and a button instead of a handbrake and I HATE IT. I only bought it because it was the only car in a 30 mile radius with 7 seats that I could afford.

I still try and pull on an imaginary hand brake, and since moving to nowhereland, it has started to beep alarmingly when we go down the steeper hills.

It's a Renault though, not a Hyundai...and soon be traded in for a bone rattler with four wheel drive.