Hyundai champion the saloon

It’s easy to think of ugly cars that never troubled the sales charts, but can you think of a really good-looking car from a mainstream manufacturer that flopped? It tends not to happen which is why one can be fairly confident that Hyundai has a winner on its hands in the shape of its i40 medium-range family saloon.

It’s easy to think of ugly cars that never troubled the sales charts, but can you think of a really good-looking car from a mainstream manufacturer that flopped? It tends not to happen which is why one can be fairly confident that Hyundai has a winner on its hands in the shape of its i40 medium-range family saloon.

Most buyers will be looking at one of the 1.7-litre CRDi models offering either 115 or 136PS. In some respects, the smaller of the two units feels slightly quicker, its maximum pulling power arriving earlier in the rev range. That’s because the pokier diesel has longer gearing, a benefit you appreciate at motorway speeds where it’s a little quieter. Sixty from rest occupies 12.9s in the 115PS model on the way to 118mph, figures that improve to 10.6s and 124mph thanks to the 325Nm of torque you get in the 136PS variant.

In comparison, the entry-level 135PS 1.6-litre GDI petrol model slots in between these two, recording the sixty sprint in 11.6s on the way to 121mph. It’s hard to see the point of going beyond this version to the 2.0 GDI petrol flagship model. Its 177PS output promises much but ultimately, it feels little faster than its stablemates, for the record on paper delivering sixty in 9.7s en route to 132mph. Transmission choice includes a 6-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddles but it’s not an especially responsive unit and this standard 6-speed manual will for most be the more satisfying choice.

Efforts have been expended upon the stylised interior with its neat graphics, faux aluminium detailing, classy high-definition display screen and nice design touches. There’s plenty of soft-touch plastic too, though that doesn’t extend to things like the door-pulls and the door skins.

Whereas Ford and Vauxhall make a song and dance about eco-technology with special ECOnetic and ECOflex derivatives, Hyundai just gets on and includes what they call ‘Blue Drive’ in its most affordable i40 derivatives. Essentially, that means you get a Stop/Start system to cut the engine when you don’t need it in traffic queues or at the lights, low rolling resistance tyres, an automatically actuated radiator blank that makes for faster engine warm-up and an Eco indicator to let you know how you’re performing. It’s all enough to keep both on the 1.7-litre CRDi diesel derivatives under the 120g/km of CO2 barrier, enough to earn a lowly 13 per cent company car tax rating. The 115PS version records a particularly creditable 113g/km of CO2 with 65.7mpg on the combined cycle, figures a little supermini would have struggled to match until a few years ago. The 136PS variant isn’t far behind with 119g/km and 62.8mpg. Bear in mind though, that the plushest models rather curiously lose the Blue Drive tweaks and as a consequence, jump about 35g/km of CO2. As a result, from a tax point of view, even if you can afford a really swish version, it might be better to buy a lower-level i40 and spec it up.

Those customers opting for a 1.6-litre GDi petrol i40 also get Blue Drive, this a derivative which betters its 2.0-litre petrol stablemate on CO2 by nearly 30g/km, recording a 140g/km showing with 47.1mpg on the combined cycle. That’s not a bad showing for a petrol model, but given that the 1.7-litre CRDi i40 is only €1,000 more, you’d recoup the premium between the two cars at the pumps within 23,000 miles, notwithstanding any taxation and residual value benefits the diesel model chalks up. As with all Hyundai models, peace of mind comes as part of the deal thanks to arguably the best customer assurance plan in the industry. The Five Year Triple Care plan includes five years of mechanical warranty, annual vehicle health checks and roadside assistance. Insurance groupings range between 12 to 18 on the 1-50 groupings scale.

Though the saloon version of this i40 will account for fewer sales than its Tourer estate counterpart, it’s still a very tempting proposition, vastly better than anything the South Korean maker has previous brought us in this segment.