It's not quirky, it Is very practical, It is very efficient but there's one thing It also has that many other early adopters of technology will be missing out on. The IMIEV is fun to drive and as we have said consistently, if driving Isn't fun, you should stay on the bus.

No car will bring every solution to allcomers, but with the iMIEV Mitsubishi hasn't lost sight of all it has learnt through its years of motorsport. To be the best, you have to lead and not to merely follow the others.

But is the IMIEV the car of today or the car for the future? We think probably the latter, largely due to the need for a recharging Infrastructure for the Inner city. Its Ideally suited for a "pay as your drive" scheme where you never actually own one, you just swipe your credit card to gain access to an iMIEV In a car pool and drop it back when you've finished. A car for our time obviously, but perhaps a little early for total acceptance.

Our choice as the final winner will no doubt be controversial, especially amongst the European, Japanese and Australian car makers.

It appears easy for some motoring magazines to almost ignore cost completely when it comes to categorising the best cars on the market. In the real world cost is one of the main considerations and our readers make it very clear they analyse that aspect very closely. Style and appeal together with driving pleasure and overall cost of ownership all come together to produce a high quality solution that will provide driving enjoyment and motoring pleasure.

Right at the last minute of evaluating the best and the boring we were able to drive the Hyundai ¡20, a new three door or five door hatch that's just about to hit the Australian market. The result was frankly amazing, supplying the Initial "Wow factor" for which our team had been searching.

ECOcar was Invited to drive the ¡20 In advance of Hyundai's preparation for the Australian launch In order to admit this compact hatch to the award criteria. This level of cooperation with the media Is an example of how attuned the company's marketing strategy Is to Its customer base. This Is also evidenced by the success of Its current advertising campaigns which deliver a message in an easy to understand display of the features and benefits of the vehicle.

Available as an entry level three-door hatch with a 1A litre engine, or as a five door hatch with higher trim levels and a 1.6 litre, petrol four cylinder under the bonnet, the same as now offered optionally In the ¡30, we think it will alter the whole concept of the compact hatch market.

Our pick is the 1,6 litre with five-speed manual transmission (auto optional). With a pricing structure we anticipate to run from $14,990 to around the $20,490 level this is finally the compact hatch that thinks It's something much better and delivers on the promise. Expect fuel economy figures around the 5.6-5.9 l/100kms on regular unleaded petrol, Also expect Hyundai to fast track a diesel Into the option list once the initial launch is completed.


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