"It gets you from point A to B" may have been a description for Korean cars a decade ago.
But the Hyundai Getz shows that has changed.
I've now driven both of the Getz in the two-engine range. First, the 1.4-litre, which starts at $19,990, and, the latest, the more expensive and higher specified 1.6-litre, available only as a four-speed automatic.
The 1.4-litre was impressive. It fulfilled the Korean strategy of offering a lot for the money, but added in driving dynamics that made it a fun package.
However, in four-speed automatic form, the 1.4-litre struggled. The fivespeed manual would have been a better option.
The 1.6-litre, which retails at $22,990 and comes only in automatic, is a better option for those wanting a roomy but compact small car without the hassle of shifting gears.
In power terms, the 1.6-litre engine at 78kW only offers 8kW more than the 1.4-litre. But the key to its better performance is in the extra torque.
That added torque gives the larger engined Getz better ability to cope with hills, one area in which the 1.4-litre's automatic was found wanting.
Where the 1.4-litre would be tending to hunt through the gears when under pressure, the 1.6-litre hangs on better and is more decisive about the lower cog it wants.
It also feels more effortless on the open road, is less stressed when asked to work, cruises more quietly and is not so raucous at higher revs.
Around town, the 1.6-litre remains nippy and a delight to drive, better able to slot into traffic gaps and copes easier with the cut and thrust of stopstart traffic.
Accurate and well-weighted steering means it is easy to park, aided by its 3.8m length.
Inside, the space is put to good use, rear passengers have comfortable space and luggage space is adequate.
Headroom will cater for most adults, but the Getz does not feel as roomy as some of the high-roofed small car competitors.
Your extra money, apart from the larger engine and standard automatic, adds alloy wheels, fog lamps, a rear spoiler, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob and trip computer over the 1.4-litre model.
Shared features include power windows, air conditioning, central locking with alarm and immobiliser, MP3 CD player with six speakers, sunglasses holder, a luggage net and rear parcel tray, dual height and lumbar support on the driver's seat and an ashtray you can remove to create an extra cupholder.
"Alloy trim" is how Hyundai describes the dash and door-handle inserts, but they are obviously plastic.
The 1.6-litre shares the same level of safety features, which include dual front and side air bags, antilock braking with electronic brake distribution and a three-point seat belt for the centre rear passenger.
It also demonstrates Hyundai's approach to safety by a full first-aid kit, safety vest and fire extinguisher as standard equipment, although the extinguisher looks a lastminute bolt-on though the floor under the front of the front passenger seat.
While the ride is firm, it is not uncomfortable and that is helped by larger 15in alloy rims compared to the 1.4-litre's 14in steels.
Tyre tread is wider and the profile is less, sharpening the handling.
The Getz received a major face-lift earlier this year, enhancing its styling.
Originally designed at Hyundai's German design centre, the Getz has a more European look than its Japanese competitors.
The facelift has resulted in a better looking car, particularly changes at the front which have removed the edginess of the previous model.
As I said with the 1.4-litre Getz, and what is demonstrated even more with the 1.6-litre, is that Korean cars have come a long way.
That jump has been even bigger with the Sonata and, this month, the completely new Santa Fe.
Which makes you wonder how Hyundai can improve on an already good package when the new Getz arrives.
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