Road Tested By Hugh Maguire
OVER the last few years the Korean car manufacturers of Hyundai and Kia have been producing some excellent new cars. For those who do not know, Hyundai actually own Kia but market their two brands separately, while sharing platforms and technologies. We often don’t realise it but Hyundai are in the top 10 of the world’s largest car manufacturers.
I see the advance of the Koreans as being very much like what we saw with the arrival of Japanese car manufacturers to Europe many decades ago.
Hyundai are producing some really class winning cars. They have style, panache, quality, reliability and to be honest an ingredient sadly lacking in many mainstream Japanese cars these days ... flair!
The latest cars I have tested from the Koreans surpass many of their Japanese rivals. What is so interesting is that they have achieved this in such a very short time too. This week I have spent some 800km behind the wheel of the all-new Hyundai i40 Tourer.
The new Hyundai i40 is going to be available as a Tourer initially (on sale now) and a saloon to be here in December. The Hyundai i40 is pitched directly against the likes of the market leader in this segment, the Toyota Avensis.
The new i40 range really looks superb, even in Tourer bodystyle it drew many admiring glances from motorists as I travelled around. The sleek lines and strong features really disguise the fact that in old terms (before the fancy marketing speak came in) this is an estate.
Interestingly just this week Hyundai previewed the saloon version to the motoring press and it is an equally dramatic and attractive looking car.
Behind The Wheel
There are two trim levels available, Comfort and Executive. Both are very well kitted out. The car on test here is in Executive trim. The list of standard specification is huge, and too numerous to detail here, however highlights include, 9 airbags, ISOFIX, ESC, BAS, Hill Assist, Electronic park brake, Electrochromatic rear view mirror, Bluetooth with voice activation, rain sensors, auto lights, cornering lights, stereo with MP3 compatibility , USB, and an iPod port, dual zone climate control, cruise control, multifunction steering wheel, electric drivers seat, roof rails, I could go on! All cars come with a full 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and includes Hyundai’s Triple Care plan, (5-year warranty, 5-year free annual car health check, 5-year free roadside assistance).
Whilst as I said the exterior styling impressed, the interior is just as good feeling very well put together and having a real air of sportiness and quality. Unlike some dull but good rivals it felt a nice place to be.
All cars get the same 1.7 litre diesel engine. In manual or automatic. The manual has a power output of 115bhp while the auto produces 136bhp.
My test car had the six speed manual gearbox. Unfortunately though I found it a rather heavy and notchy affair. You do get used to it but it is not one of the i40’s strong points. Overall performance is good, though at times when overtaking I felt I could do with just a bit more pep in its step.
That said it cruises happily at motorway speeds all day and is so refined that you need to keep a close eye on the speedo to prevent you getting unwanted attention from the law.
With emissions of just 113g/km it costs just €104 to tax and returned a very impressive average consumption of just 6.3 litres per 100km, giving an easy range of over 1,000km between refuels.
The new i40 handles well enough. On one or two occasions though the suspension got caught out by sudden dips on country roads resulting in it hitting its bump stops. Not a problem really, some Irish roads will put any suspension to its limits.
The i40 is surefooted and you do have all the electronic aids should you get it wrong. The only other main gripe I had with the car apart from that heavy gearchange is the overly light steering. Frankly the steering gives little or no feel of the road with the result the driver feels detached from the car, you never quite know what the front wheels are doing. There is just no feedback.
Refinement levels are very high. The new Hyundai i40 is truly quiet, and a very comfortable car in which to travel.
So how much? Well more good news really! The new Hyundai i40 Tourer is launched at a special “Launch” price until December 2011. The i40 Comfort model costs just €24,995 while the i40 Tourer Executive as tested here costs €26,495. In December when the i40 saloon arrives in showrooms the price goes up on the Tourer by €1,000.
Make no mistake, this is one excellent new car, and in my opinion a very strong contender for the award of Irish Car Of The Year as adjudicated by myself and my colleagues in the Irish Motoring Writers Association!
I love the style, whether Tourer or saloon it looks fabulous, the interior is just as impressive, standard equipment is superb and reminiscent of cars costs twice as much, and it drives well. The Japs had better watch out!
The new i40 is one car you must test drive if you are a buyer in this segment. You will be very pleasantly surprised.