09 December 2013
Hyundaiís new ix35 is the Korean firmís first crossover and is aiming to take on the compact MPV and small SUV markets at the same time. It also hopes to snatch some sales from mainstream hatches, such as the Vauxhall Astra, so the ix35 has its work cut out.
Thereís a simple choice between one petrol and one diesel engine to begin with for the ix35, though a new 140bhp 1.6-litre petrol and 1.7-litre turbodiesel with 113bhp will expand the range later in the year. For now, the 2.0-litre petrol offers 161bhp and 0-62mph in 10.4 seconds, and it is only offered with front-wheel drive where the diesel can be ordered in either front- or four-wheel drive. The petrol sticks with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the diesel gains a six-speeder and feels all the better for it. A new six-speed automatic gearbox will become available later in the year for the 2.0-litre diesel engine. With 134bhp and plenty of low-rev punch, the 2.0-litre turbodiesel is the pick of the two engines on offer from the ix35ís launch and Hyundai expects it to make up 90% of sales in the UK. It covers 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds in two-wheel drive guise, with the four-wheel drive version still besting the petrol with a time of 10.2 seconds. Where the petrol engine can feel strained and underwhelming, the diesel just pulls keenly and cleanly.
Targeting a broad spread of rivals with one car is no easy task and the ix35 not only has to rival some very talented SUVs, it also has to get on terms with the likes of the Ford C-Max and Volkswagen Golf if itís to fulfil its brief. At low speeds, the Hyundai is firm-set and picks up on a few too many small puckers in the road surface to worry the serenity experienced in a VW Golf, but it can definitely hold a candle to most compact MPVs and has the measure of the Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Tiguan. This holds true as speed builds when the ix35 ventures out of town. On the motorway, the ix35 is stable and composed, taking road imperfections in its stride, while country roads are dealt with in equally capable terms thanks to the Hyundai keeping body lean to a well contained minimum and offering surprisingly high levels of grip. Some more feel from the steering would be welcome as thereís a lifeless patch to the steering wheelís arc when driving in a straight line. The steering also gains weight with a noticeable interruption once turned a few degrees off centre. Itís not as fluid as a Ford Kugaís, but the Hyundai compensates by being nimble in town and easier to park than many rivals. On the noise front, wind and road noise are successfully muted and the diesel engine is hushed. However, the petrol engine is a rowdy partner when pressed for more acceleration. The four-wheel drive ix35 is not a serious off-roader, though it does come with a hill descent control button to help it down slippery slopes. Even so, the ix35 is best kept on firmer terra and makes a decent tow car thanks to a maximum towing limit of 2000kg.
Hyundai supplies a five-year warranty with the ix35 and five yearsí worth of breakdown cover too. Youíre unlikely to ever have to call on the breakdown cover or the warranty as the build quality of the ix35 is very good. Some of the interior plastics are not quite as tactile as a VW Tiguanís, but thereís nothing wrong in the way the Hyundai is put together. The mechanical parts in the form of the two engines on offer from launch are both proven units and should be tough and dependable, while the four-wheel drive system should also be trouble-free.
Itís hard to fault the Hyundai ix35 for its safety and security kit. As standard all models come with twin front, side and curtain airbags, ESP traction and stability control, ABS anti-lock brakes, an alarm and immobiliser. Every model also includes hill descent control to keep the speed at a controllably low rate when negotiating slithery downhill sections of track or grass. Buyers can also opt for the diesel engine with four-wheel drive to give added sure-footed control on all types of road.
Compared to the best of the small MPV sector, the Hyundai ix35 doesnít quite have the seating versatility or offer the possibility of seven seats, but against the SUV and small hatch crowd the Hyundai is a very flexible and able holdall. The boot provides a generous 591-litres of luggage capacity, extending to 1436 litres when the 60/40 split and tip rear seats are dropped down. With the rear seats folded down, the cargo bed is long, flat and free of intrusion from the wheel arches to be very useful for those DIY store trips. The rear seats serve up decent room for adultsí heads and legs, though shoulder room is cramped if you want to carry three grown-ups in the back. Up front, the driver is afforded a great view forward thanks to the raised driving position of an SUV, while the seat and steering wheel have plenty of adjustment for all drivers to find the right seating position. Our only complaint here is the up-sweep of the rear pillars of the ix35 make over-the-shoulder vision tricky when changing lanes or parallel parking. On the upside, the dash is simple, clear and uncluttered to make finding the right switch easy-peasy.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine provides the cheapest entry to the Hyundai ix35 range, with a starting price of £16,495. However, itís telling that this is a stand-alone model and every other ix35 version comes with the fine diesel engine. Even in entry-point Style trim, however, the petrol ix35 comes with a vast array of standard equipment, including heated front and rear seats, air conditioning, active headrests to reduce whiplash injuries, six airbags, ESP traction and stability control, electric windows all-round, CD stereo with MP3 connector, rear parking sensors and 17in alloy wheels. Try matching that lot in the Hyundaiís competitors and youíll spend a good deal more money. Opt for the Premium trim, which starts at £19,745 and you also get 18in alloy wheels, full-length panoramic sunroof, cruise control, keyless entry and ignitions, climate control, rain-sensing wipers and half-leather upholstery. Throw in Hyundai five-year warranty and breakdown cover and the ix35 is a very strong buying proposition. The petrol engine manages 37.7mpg and 177g/km of carbon dioxide emissions, which compare favourably with most rivalsí, but the diesel engine again makes more sense thanks to 51.4mpg and 147g/km emissions for the front-wheel drive model. Even the four-wheel drive model impresses with 149g/km emissions and 49.6mpg combined economy. Hyundai also reckons the ix35 will enjoy residual values on a par with the class leaders from the compact SUV sector.
Submitted: 24/03/2010 09:44:05
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