25.05.10: How to spot a successful Korean

Time 3:39 am, May 25, 2010

weirdcars1HOW do you spot a successful Korean? They’ll be the one getting out of the back of a very large saloon car!

If you were wondering where the world’s stock of large luxury saloons have gone, it’s here in Korea.

Car Dealer has been whisked out to the Far East for a week-long tour of the manufacturer’s impressive facilities and while we’ve been shuttled around – on a Kia-made bus no less – we’ve been car spotting.

And they’re not the sort of cars you’d expect. Apparently, according to our hosts, Koreans don’t really ‘do’ sports cars – the mark of success over here is employing a driver and being transported around in style.

You only need to take a look at the procession of saloon cars that ferry the suits in an out of our hotel in the centre of Seoul to see that.

BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S Class and even the odd new Jaguar XJ have made an appearance – but more often than not they’re sporting a Kia or Hyundai badge, and are mostly models we’re never likely to see in the UK.

kia-busThere’s also a fair few models from manufacturers I can’t even identify. Pretty poor for a car nut, I know, but these things are indistinguishable.

One looked like a cross between an Audi A8 and an S Class, another had the front of a Jaguar S-Type and the back of a Lincoln. It’s all very strange, but kind of cool at the same time.

The UK’s love affair with small city cars doesn’t seem to be repeated over here either. Motorways are bumper to bumper with MPVs and SUVs instead and that’s because family plays an important part in Korean’s lives.

But times are changing. More sports cars are starting to creep in – we’ve seen two Audi R8s and a Corvette – and it’s likely cars like these will only increase in numbers.

Other marque’s noticeable by their absence? Well the French are nowhere to be seen. I’m yet to spot a Citroen, Peugeot or Renault apart from a Modus at the Kia proving ground which was apparently there for comparison testing.

And as for Japanese cars, well they’re few and far between – that’s because they occupied Korea for quite some time and they’ve still not been forgotten!



James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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