Hyundai was among the first auto manufacturers to set up a plant in India following the announcement of India&’s liberalisation policy in the 1990s by then Union finance minister Manmohan Singh and its first product, the Santro, was a grand success that continues to sell well, with a resale value that is also exceedingly good.

This car&’s success led to the Accent, a mid- segment job that proved equally successful, offering both driving comfort and space, a very strong vehicle that could be driven on any road surface. I remember driving one to Santiniketan when a widening of the highway was on and there were diversions and for nearly five kilometres the stretch was bumpy mud road for parts. I was pretty nervous because I assumed the undercarriage could get damaged, but that did not happen.

And so we come to Hyundai&’s new addition, the Xcent, or what could be called the Accent&’s grandson. Its exterior has been beautifully designed to make it look very sleek and smart and the interior has been conceptualised to offer the maximum utilisation of space.

I happened to speak to a “car expert” who held that the vehicle wasn’t very spacious and on long trips passengers would feel claustrophobic.

Then again, those travelling in the rear would have no guarantee of comfort at all.

But when I took the vehicle on a recent lengthy run, I was convinced how so far off the button he was. The Xcent provides superb driving comfort and the front seat is so very comfortable, with enough legroom to give you cause to sit back and wonder. The rear, too, has been beautifully adjusted so that even a heavy waistlined six- footer can more than make do. The air condition chills in a matter of seconds and the power shock absorbers ensure a safe, smooth journey. The brakes are very powerful, as are the headlamps that make night driving a pleasure. The bonus lies in an engine that is absolutely soundless.

Even in the diesel version, there is the very minimum sound. There is never any wobble nor threat of the engine overheating.

The Xcent comes in six great colours and is a very dependable car. If you’re planning on buying a mid- segment sedan, a test drive should convince you of its elegance and power.