ROAD TEST:

Hyundai Coupé TSIII review

Hyundai Coupe TSIII.
Engine
1975cc, 4 cylinders
Power
141bhp
Fuel/CO2
35.3mpg / 193g/km
Acceleration
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Top speed
129mph
Price
£19,595
Details correct at publication date

You might agree with me on this one, and then again you might not, but the thing that struck me about the Hyundai Coupé TSIII when I first saw it was that it's a particularly handsome-looking car. The Coupé is quite attractive even in standard form, in a not entirely un-Ferrari-ish sort of way, but the TSIII's 17" anthracite alloy wheels, large rear spoiler and quad exhaust tailpipes make it look really rather racey.

I know I'm not the only one who thinks this. There's a bloke with a Ford Focus ST who is of a similar mind - the one who came charging up behind me within the first five minutes of this test, sniffed around for a bit as if fearing that his manhood might have come into question, and then roared past, presumably in an attempt to show me who was boss.

Even if I'd wanted to give chase, it wouldn't have been possible. The TSIII may look fast, but it uses the same 141bhp two-litre engine found in lesser Coupés, and frankly I wouldn't have had a hope. Still, I thought to myself, at least he's paid more for that car than I would have done for this one.

And then, as the ST rapidly turned into a distant orange blob, I thought, well, no, maybe he hasn't. The TSIII costs £19,595, and it's quite possible to buy a new ST for substantially less than that even without haggling down below list price. Okay, the Focus would be more expensive to run, and it's seven insurance groups higher, but at least it actually provides the performance which the Hyundai merely pretends to have (and of course the same applies to any number of hot hatches on the market).

You're not just paying for the looks, though. The TSIII also comes with leather-covered sports seats, and these are absolutely brilliant, offering excellent support to counteract side forces far greater than the car could possibly generate.

The same applies in the rear, though since there is virtually no room in the back of a Hyundai Coupé what you're actually paying for is a spectacularly well-upholstered parcel shelf. And, to continue speaking of room, there isn't much of that in the front either - in TSIII form or otherwise, these cars are really quite cramped, to the extent that, at six foot three, I have to accept having my head permanently jammed into the hard-edged trim surrounding the sunroof. I really don't want to speculate on what harm could come to me if I had a major accident in which the car landed upside down.

The considerable amount of money you're asked to pay for the TSIII also buys you Eibach springs which lower the ride height and help contribute to the sporty looks. But that's all they do. There should be some handling benefit from these springs, but I can't say I've noticed it, and they don't make the driving experience any more enjoyable than it already was.

So why would you buy a TSIII? Well, you would do that if you absolutely loved its appearance, and I can see how that might be the case. But paying nearly £20,000 for an allegedly sporty car which isn't particularly interesting to drive, and which isn't especially quick either in a straight line or round corners, seems like a wildly eccentric thing to do. And I like eccentricity as a rule, but in this case I think I'd pass on the opportunity.

225stars

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