Stylish and well put together, wheelworldreviews Editor DAVID HOOPER says Hyundai’s latest model offers a lot to get ix-cited about!
THE people at Hyundai were quite excited about the arrival of the new ix35 when it went on sale a couple of months ago, and having just spent a few days driving one, I think they had every right to be.
The Korean carmaker needed something to keep going the momentum it had built up through the Scrappage Scheme, which saw it attract 30,000 new customers to the brand, and this car should fit the bill nicely.
A cross between a family hatchback and an SUV, it slots into an increasingly competitive and popular sector of the market, going head-to-head with the likes of Nissan’s recently revamped Qashqai, VW’s Tiguan and Mitsubishi’s soon-to-be launched ASX. Although they look like 4x4s, they take up no more space on the road than a Vauxhall Astra.
Competitive pricing, the range starts from £16,495, and strong equipment levels including such luxuries as keyless entry and climate control on the top model, combined with a smartly styled exterior, tempt you to investigate further.
Opening the door reveals a semi-tall driving position and a good-looking interior, with touches of silver trim to break up the otherwise fairly dark ambience, but the model I tested came with twin sunroofs, the front being electrically operated, which helped to lighten things up a bit.
There is plenty of room inside for five people, with ample leg room in the back, and the boot is also a good size to squeeze in all the paraphernalia that goes hand-in-hand with an active family on the move.
My test car was equipped with leather seats, part of the £700 Individual pack option which includes an auto dimming rear view mirror. The materials used have a good quality look about them, but Hyundai has used a hard plastic for the dashboard top moulding where I think a slush moulded finish would have added to the car’s perceived quality without costing a fortune.
The ix35 was designed, developed and engineered at Hyundai’s research and development centre in Ruesselsheim, Germany, with the range consisting initially of just two models, either Style or Premium, a choice of two-litre Euro 5 compliant petrol or diesel engines, and two or four wheel drive, with most customers expected to go for the front-wheel-drive models.
A new 1.6-litre GDI petrol and 1.7-litre CRDi diesel engine will soon join the range, and buyers will have the choice of a new six-speed automatic transmission. A good automatic gearbox is something the Hyundai range has been lacking, so you can expect to see that appearing on other models as well in the not too distant future.
On the safety front, there is plenty of standard kit, including numerous airbags an electronic stability programme (ESP), Hillstart Assist Control and Hyundai’s version of a hill descent system it calls Downhill Brake Control which limits the car’s speed on steep descents.
I gave the ix35 a good test, with plenty of town driving and a long trip to Bedford and back in a day during all of which I found little to criticise. The suspension set-up is quite soft, which makes for a comfortable ride around our pot-holed streets, with only the deepest offenders being noticed in the cabin, but I think the car would benefit from a slightly firmer suspension set-up out of town to reduce body roll in corners and a more positive, accurate response from the steering.
The car cruises quietly at speed on the motorway, with very little wind or engine noise being heard inside the car, and the excellent stereo system soon drowns out any that is.
The ix35 also proved to be fairly economical, returning just under 40mpg at motorway speeds on the trip down to Bedford. On the way back, and with a concerted attempt at economical driving on my part, taking note of the gear change indicator on the dashboard, the car returned 49.5mpg overall, with a peak of 51.3 showing on its trip computer for a while.
A good all-rounder then, the ix35 is a very credible contender in this class of car, especially when you take equipment levels into account. Add to that Hyundai’s excellent 5 year warranty, and it’s definitely worth a closer look.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Hyundai 2.0 CRDi 2WD Premium manual.
ix35 RANGE: From 2.0 Style (2WD) 5dr (£16,495) to 2.0 CRDi Premium (4WD) 5dr (£20,745).
ENGINE: 1995cc, 134bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 153g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 113mph. 0-62mph in 9.4 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 40.4mpg.
Fuel tank: 58 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 19.
WARRANTY: 5 years/Unlimited mileage.