Are there really any 'bad' cars on sale anymore?

Time 11:29 am, October 29, 2012

I HAVE a confession. I drove a Ssangyong, and I liked it.

Sure, the interior plastics are a tad on the cheap side, and the Kenwood sat nav isn’t the best I’ve ever come across but, with genuine off-road ability for just over £17k, I came away from the launch feeling nothing but love for the little Korando.

Ten years ago that would’ve been a bit of a motoring journalist no-no – something punishable by, at the very least, copious mocking and several raised eyebrows. Now though? Straight faces and – in some cases – nods of agreement.

Driving Car Dealer’s long-term Kia Rio the other day led me to the same conclusion – it’s not just well put together, but full of bits that have clearly been thought out properly. Setting up Bluetooth on the stereo is effortless – pay attention Vauxhall – and the design of interior switches is really rather lovely.

The Rio is now a car I really would consider buying over a Fiesta – and that’s not something I could have said 10 years ago.

This brings me on to a very good point: are there really any below-par cars on sale any more? South Korea used to be the go-to nation for cars full of drear, but so rapidly have its companies shot up in perceived quality that some people still haven’t realised.

Hyunda’s i40 is now as good as the Mondeo, for example, and the Veloster is trying very hard to be noticed indeed. As for Kia’s Sportage, well, that looks like something from the next century.

This, of course, makes the lives of us journalist types rather difficult.

Return from a group test with a verdict of ‘they’re all quite good’ and the editor is likely to want a word – something that’s led to car reviews becoming more and more critical.

As a result, it’s very easy to get swept up in star ratings and lists of pros and cons.

‘One out of five’ is likely to put off the average What Car-fearing buyer, but so ruthless have reviews become that a model is likely to be slated for crimes as serious as ‘gruff engine note’ and ‘suspension rather firm’ – not the sort of thing to keep you up at night, in other words.

Either way – and regardless of how difficult it may make my life – dealers have never had such an excellent range of cars to offer, and I reckon that’s something worth celebrating.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to test drive a Korando.

Jon Reay's avatar

Staff Writer Jon is one of the Car Dealer team's newest members. You can also find him contributing to AOL Cars.

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