BRITAIN’S population of small crossovers keeps on ballooning.
It must have been a struggle for Hyundai’s designers to make their new one, the Bayon, stand out from the rest. Yet they pretty much succeeded.
A broad (if mostly fake) textured grille and angular headlamps sit beneath a furrowed brow. It’s a waspish scowl.
Down the sides, a chiselled undercut runs above the door handles. A stout metal pillar behind the rearmost glass make it look solid.
A pair of inward-aiming arrowhead rear lamp clusters bracket a glossy black panel. You wouldn’t mistake this rear-view for anything else.
Well, maybe a shrunken Volvo, which is a compliment.
Driving the Bayon, you soon forget the characterful design. It’s competent enough, but in no way distinctive.
The little engine thrums cheerfully away.
It’s no rocket, but its reactions are gently aided by a mild hybrid system. That helps cover while you’re waiting for turbo boost.
That electric system also saves a bit of fuel. You don’t have to plug in.
It’s the kind that simply recycles the momentum when you lift off the accelerator. You’ll get 50mpg in most kinds of driving.
The Bayon steers decently too, with an accurate wheel, quick reactions and little body lean.
Compact length and width make it a nifty city runabout.
The suspension isn’t what you’d call plush, but it rounds off the worst of the potholes and bumps, and settles down nicely on a motorway.
While Hyundai calls it a crossover, it doesn’t feel that tall or chunky.
In other words, it drives like a decent small hatchback. And that’s what it is.
Call it a small hatchback that’s raised up off the ground a bit.
So now to its biggest problem. On the inside, it also feels like a little hatchback, and a pretty ordinary one at that.
The dash trim is boring and made from hard, budget black plastic.
There’s no particular extra versatility in the back seat or boot.
True, Hyundai has thrown in a generous set of screen-based systems, and advanced driver assistance.
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Toyota has the Yaris Cross, which is a full hybrid and can be had with 4WD. The Jeep Renegade is a proper SUV. You get the picture.
The Bayon is interesting on the outside, and OK to drive.
But when they got round to the interior’s design and versatility, Hyundai just phoned it in.
Hyundai Bayon Ultimate
Engine: 1-litre 3cyl turbo
Power: 120hp, 200Nm
0-62mph: 10.4 secs
Top speed: 115mph