Amongst all the glitz and glamour of the Geneva show and exotic machinery on display, it was arguably the South Korean companies who had the most interesting, and arguably most important models on display.

Hyundai weighed in with its Veloster coupe, a sporty number with the practicality of a four-seater family car and the i40 wagon.

Tony Whitehorn, managing director of Hyundai’s UK operations, said: “The Veloster, which we will launch around September/October, will give the brand an important halo model while the i40 gives us a complete model line up with a D segment car for the first time.

“This will allow us to compete in the fleet markets in the UK and across Europe with a full model line-up, something we have not previously been able to do.”

Kia unveiled its new Picanto city car and the B-segment Rio, available with its new 1.1-litre diesel engine with the lowest emissions currently available from a conventional engine.

Both cars are hugely important in two of the biggest segments in the European industry. Kia wants to boost sales from 20,000 a year currently to 90,000 with the new model.

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By GlobalData

European marketing chief Benny Oeyen said: “That sounds like a big leap in numbers, but only because the 20,000 figure is so small when you consider this segment.

“The B segment accounts for around 3.5m sales a year in Europe currently. If the market gets back to its pre-economic crisis levels of 15m, then that figure is closer to 4m. Yes, we have ambitious growth plans but they are achievable.”

Another newcomer at the end of the year for Kia will be the larger Optima family saloon and there are rumours of an estate to follow.

Oeyen said: “Optima sells in many markets around the world and estates are only really popular in Europe. We need a certain volume of sales to make an estate viable but it is something we are looking at for Europe – I think it is looking good.”