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Stylish looks will attract more fans.

Byline: By Andy Richards

THE third generation Hyundai Coupe looks better than ever.

The latest incarnation has been completely re-designed outside with significant changes and enhancements inside.

But I drove the top-of-the range automatic gearbox version, which may be slick - but it's not slick enough in my opinion.

The Porsche-designed H-matic gearbox gives the versatility of a 'stepped' manual transmission or a full automatic at the push of a lever.

This also benefits from the HIVEC - Hyundai Integrated Vehicle Electric Control System - which learns the driving characteristics of the driver and adapts itself accordingly.

This apparently gets the optimum out of the engine on typical road conditions, and on steep inclines upwards or downwards.

I guess it would have sensed my impatience because, I felt it wasn't responsive quickly enough. That said, it can speed from 0-62mph in under nine seconds.

But I'm sure the six-speed manual option would be a better one for me.

It uses a double cone synchroniser ring for better first and second gear shift movements and special friction material for a third gear synchroniser ring.

I loved the vehicle's looks and several friends were taken by it, too. The entirely new front end features elongated headlights and a more aggressive letterbox type grill and new fog lights.

New side vents now incorporate the indicator repeater lights while the re-shaped rear features a more sculpted look with fully integrated twin tailpipes and restyled rear light clusters.

New to the Hyundai Coupe SIII is the impressive blue instrumentationillumination seen elsewhere on the award-winning Santa Fe.

And the centre console layout has been redesigned for a cleaner look and easier use. It also has a sleeker, sportier feel with a new metal-look finish, which has been tied in with design of the steering wheel and air vents. It all adds up to an added sense of quality.

In the safety stakes, the car frame has been designed to disperse the energy created by a collision seven ways.

And to protect occupants in a side collision, impact bars have been fitted in the upper and lower sections of the doors. The structure of the centre pillar is also reinforced.

My test vehicle was priced at a reasonable pounds 20,597. Satellite navigation can be added for a tad under pounds 500. But the range starts with a 1.6 manual costing pounds 15,772.

Standard equipment includes cruise control, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, climate control, anti-lock brakes, automatic dimming rear mirror, front fog lights, engine immobiliser, leather steering wheel and gear knob, twin exhaust pipes and a traction control system.

All Hyundai's come with a mouth-watering five year unlimited mileage warranty, six year anti-perforation warranty and three year Hyundai RAC Assistance.

Hyundai introduced the Coupe in 1996 and the US-designed car has won fans worldwide.

It was facelifted in 2000 and 2005 and the company has sold more than 43,000 in the UK.

For many, it is the brand's most instantly recognisable model and it outsells rivals such as BMS's 3 Series Coupe and Mercedes CLK.

The latest generation will add many more fans.

Fast Facts

Hyundai Coupe SIII 2.7 V6 Auto

Price: pounds 20,597

Mechanical: Six cylinder DOHC 24 valve 4 speed H-matic Automatic Transmission

Max Speed: 8.6 secs

0-62 mph: 135mph

Combined mpg: 27.4mpg

CO2 emissions: 247 g/km

Warranty: Five year unlimited mileage Insurance group: 14 A
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Oct 12, 2007
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