‘tis the Wintery season for an SUV so it’s timely that the 2014 model year Hyundai ix35 is now on sale. It is duly enhanced with a face-lift, upgraded specification, a wider range of options, revised suspension settings for a sharper drive and a cheaper starting price of £16,995.
The ix35 five door, five seater, five door, C-segment SUV is one of the fastest selling models in Hyundai’s range and the brand looks as though it is heading for another record year of sales in the UK exceeding the 74,285 total of last year. Around 30,000 units of the ix35 have been sold in the UK in the past three year.
The revised ix35 retains its former three engine option line-up of 1.6 GDI direct injection petrol and 1.7 and 2.0-litre turbodiesels. Both the 1.6-litre, 133bhp petrol and 1.7-litre 114bhp units are only available with a manual gearbox and two wheel drive. The revised 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit has had its power output cut from 179 to 134bhp to improve fuel economy and lower emissions and is thankfully available with four wheel drive and has the option of manual and automatic transmissions.
Hyundai has established itself as a brand offering well built smartly styled cars with lots of specification at competitive prices all backed up by their five year Triple Care unlimited mileage warranty. The revised ix35 continues that trend with LED daytime running lights, redesigned front and rear lights, the quality of the interior has been improved and there is a new infotainment system as well. The interior is clinically well laid out, everything in its right place and it is hard to fault.
Due to its coupe roofline rear seat headroom is limited for six-footers and at the front the small seat squabs lack support. There is enough passenger room front and rear with a really practical square shaped boot area with a low loading height sill and wide entry. The rear seats fold almost completely flat as well.
Hyundai has also made enhancements to the ix35’s existing chassis and suspension set-up, to improve handling and ride comfort which it does in part with only deeper potholes causing some discomfort and unsettling the ride. The latest ix35 also has Flex-Steer which offers three driving modes – normal, comfort and sport. This allows the driver to vary the level of steering support and feedback to best suit them but the response still feels artificial from this electronic system.
Cornering grip is good however even on the two wheel drive 1.7-litre diesel model I tested. Being a ‘tall-ish car there is some cornering bodyroll but generally most customers will be more than happy with its performance and comfort.
In these difficult financial years UK customers are still buying cars in ever increasing numbers but the priorities now are status in terms of looks, comprehensive equipment and value for money pricing with the affordable running costs.
It’s all about packaging so the new range begins with the S 1.6-litre GDI 2WD manual, which at £16,995 provides a lower price entry point into the range than the previous line-up. Standard equipment comprises of 16-inch alloy wheels, remote central locking with alarm, USB and AUX connections, air conditioning, glove compartment with cooling function, trip computer, hillstart assist and downhill brake control.
Moving up to the most popular SE trim prices start at £18,495 for the 1.6 GDI 2WD manual. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, cruise control, front foglights, heated front and rear seats, LED taillights, rear parking sensors, auto dimming rearview mirror and leather steering wheel and gearknob.
For an additional £1,000 on each corresponding SE model buyers can choose SE Nav, which comes with satellite navigation, rearview parking camera, upgraded seven-speaker sound system and ‘sharkfin’ antenna.
Above SE Nav are the new Premium and Premium Panorama trims for diesel version only starting at £22,595 which are equipped with a host of extra features as standard. On the outside they benefit from 18-inch alloys, Bi-Xenon headlights with self-levelling system, chrome door handles and headlamp washers come as standard. Inside the spec includes keyless entry, leather seats and privacy glass. The Premium Panorama receives the addition of an electric tilt and slide panoramic sunroof.
My exact revised ix35 model was the 1.7 CRDi turbodiesel manual with SE Nav specification bearing an on-the-road price of £20,995 but it only has 2WD traction.
Company car drivers will opt for the Nav element with its rearview parking camera included but retail customers could save £1,000 by just going for the SE specification and then using their own portable navigation system. But take my advice the rearview parking camera is useful because rear and rear quarter visibility out of the ix35 is not great due to its styling which only allows small windows to the rear.
The 1.7-litre, four cylinder turbodiesel engine with 114bhp, but most importantly 192lb ft of torque from just 1,250rpm aided by the six speed manual gearbox, is a really nice and responsive unit but a little gruff under acceleration. It easily copes with slow and medium speed driving on country roads in top gear. There was none of the all too common necessity of having to change down several gears to get the engine to accelerate. Although the CO2 emissions could be lower than the 139g/km, I would rather have responsive performance at the most commonly used driving speeds than dull overdrive ratios. With a top speed of 108mph it is not fast but when does anybody travel at anything like 100mph these days. The zero to 62mph acceleration time of 12.4 seconds is adequate enough as well. Officially this unit will return 53.3mpg in the Combined Cycle and for my week of test driving covering the usual motorway, A/B roads and in-town traffic the figure was 48.8mpg which will be acceptable for most people.
Overall the latest Hyundai ix35 is very easy to live with, it looks good so it offers visual status, it drives well enough; in short it is hard to fault for the money. I just wish as a country dweller with Winter now with us there was a 4WD version with this 1.7-litre turbodiesel engine but that is a personal choice.
MILESTONES. Hyundai ix35 SE Nav 1.7 CRDi 2WD manual. Price: £20,995. Engine/transmission: 1.7-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel, 114bhp, 192lb ft of torque from 1,250rpm. 6-speed manual with front wheel drive. Performance: 108mph, 0-62mph 12.4 seconds, 53.3mpg, (48.8mpg on test), CO2 139g/km, VED road tax £125, BIK company car tax 22%. Insurance group: 14. Warranty: 5-Year Triple Care with unlimited mileage: Dimensions/capacities: L 4,410mm, W 1,820mm, H 1,665mm, boot/load space 465 to 1,436-litres, braked towing weight 1,200kg. For: Really well equipped, improved interior quality, good road manners, responsive engine, stylishly refreshed. Against: Steering lacks feedback, limited rear seat headroom for tall passengers, small front seat squabs, limited rear/rear quarter visibility, no 4WD version with this engine, relatively low towing weight. Miles Better News Agency