The Hyundai name is appearing on an increasing number of fleet choice lists as its sales success persuades more companies to look at what it has to offer.
Overall sales have more than doubled since 2008 and fleet sales have followed an even more impressive trajectory, which Hyundai hopes to continue with eight launches this year.
Among these is the i40 saloon, which will complement the i40 estate that has just joined our long-term test fleet.
Our experience with the estate should give a good indication of how the saloon will perform and the suggestion so far is that it will be an appealing proposition for fleets.
Our i40 Tourer is a particularly fleet-friendly proposition in 1.7 CRDi Style specification, especially with its Blue Drive package which adds stop/start technology and low-rolling resistance tyres.
As a result, it emits 119g/km, which means it benefits from the tail-end of the HMRC tax reductions for vehicles which emit 120g/km or less. Company car drivers will pay 13% benefit-in-kind tax currently, but this will jump to 17% for the 2012/2013 tax year (ouch).
However, the promising economy from the 136bhp diesel engine won’t change, which at 62.8mpg combined is very good, especially as it seems achievable, with typical returns of 56mpg at the moment in mixed driving.
The ‘more for less’ argument that used to dominate the sales patter at this end of the market is less overt, as the list price is £22,740, but there is still plenty to play with in the cabin.
The Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition seems pretty easy to use and there are all of the features you might want at this level, including electric heated door mirrors, electric front and rear windows, rain-sensing wipers, automatic halogen headlights with cornering function, touchscreen satellite navigation with rear view parking camera and parking guidance system, front and rear parking sensors, toaster, cuddly toy and so on.
The electric parking brake with automatic hill-hold function also has a clever feature, which doesn’t release the brake until you have fastened your seatbelt. You can do it manually at the touch of a button though.
Our car has had a few thousand miles added before arrival as a fleet demonstrator, but there are no signs of rattles or other build quality issues that suggest the exceptional five-year warranty will have to be tested. In fact, build quality is pretty much a match for volume rivals, even if it is a bit plasticky and shiny in places.
My only initial gripe is that the clutch is too heavy and it bites too suddenly, making it easy to stall unless your calf muscles are particularly well-defined. A recent stint in a Vauxhall Insignia gave my left leg a much-needed break.
There is a lot more to look at during the car’s time with us, but initial impressions are good and fleet managers seem to agree.
As one leading fleet buyer told me: “I think Hyundai is serious about getting some of the fleet market. They have product that now sells on desirability and not just price, warranties that leave most European manufacturers looking like they don't have confidence in their cars and simplicity of offering. Two or three engines and three or four derivatives per model range is surely enough choice for anyone.”