FANCY a Mondeo-sized saloon for a shade over ten grand? Then look no further than the Kia Magentis.
The Korean company has specialised in giving value for money and this two-litre offering is no exception.
Okay, the styling is about as classy as a hip-hop band, but the engine sounds much sweeter.
Turn the ignition and this power unit's quieter than Harpo Marx in a monastery - especially when you're cruising around town.
But demand something extra and the engine responds with a note Pavarotti would be proud of. The 11.5 second figure for 0-62mph does the Magentis no favours as it feels much quicker.
On the motorway the car comes into its own giving a smooth comfortable ride on roads that are anything but.
Sometimes on Kia cars you find the gear changes are about as slick as a brick. But the Magentis clicked through the gears with aplomb.
However, exhaust emissions are high for this sector of the market giving a 24 per cent tax rating for company car drivers.
Following changes to the range at the start of 2004, Kia has decided to drop the 2.5 V6 SE H-matic version of the Magentis leaving the two-litre LE and LX to carry the fight to the competition.
The exterior received a recent revamp including a new vertical chrome radiator grille, deeper front bonnet lines and dual headlamps.
But despite Kia's claim that the car now has 'a modern contemporary appearance', I think it's a bit of a throwback to a time when The Sweeney was on the telly and Jack Regan was flying around the streets of London in a Ford Granada.
The Magentis is well kitted out considering the price, however. For your £10,008 you get air conditioning, electric windows front and back, a radio/CD player and electrically adjustable door mirrors as standard. There's no remote control central locking or heated door mirrors but that's just being greedy.
Other toys include driver's door mounted releases for the fuel filler cap and boot and an auxiliary power outlet in front.
The Magentis has similar dimensions to a Mondeo so the interior space is good with plenty of leg and headroom. The driver's seat is also fully adjustable allowing a comfortable position to be found behind the wheel.
The 14 cubic ft boot space is roomy and easily accessible while a 60:40 split rear seat can be be brought into play when carrying larger loads. There are also door pockets and centre console for additional odds and ends.
Safety systems on the Magentis include seatbelt pre-tensioners plus driver and passenger airbags. A sensor in the passenger seat detects the presence of an occupant preventing unnecessary deployment of the airbag in an accident. There are also ISOfix child seat anchor points fitted as standard while braking performance has been improved with a new ABS system.
The suspension absorbs most bumps but the steering and handling don't give much feedback to the driver. Most exterior noise is well contained.
The Magentis does have its faults, but for the money this saloon's a must for the shortlist if your looking to buy a budget family-sized car.
Kia Magentis 2.0SE
Mechanical: 134bhp, 1,997cc 4-cyl petrol driving front wheels via five speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 129mph
0-62mph: 11.5 secs
Combined mpg: 32.8
Insurance Group: 14
CO2 emissions: 204g/km
BIK rating: 24%
Warranty: 3yrs/Unlimited miles; 6yrs anti-rust