2014 Hyundai ix35 road test review | tweaks add to package
HYUNDAI, not content with merely cutting a swathe through the competition, is determined to remain a front-runner by blending an enviable Korean work ethic with European know-how and technology to keep buyers interested.
The ix35 Series II is a further step in the right direction, its newly tuned suspension to suit Australian conditions one of its strongest selling points.
The new ix35 range is available with 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre direct-injection petrol engines or a 2.0-litre turbo diesel. Prices have increased by at least $500 depending on the model you choose, a move Hyundai says is justified by a better inclusions list, greater fuel economy and improved looks.
The ix35 is generous with space and the roomy cabin in this model is no different.
The interior of our base-model Active seemed decidedly dark, though, with blacks and dark greys the choice of colour palette, although it was broken up a teeny bit with brushed metal highlights.
Plastics are on the cheap side and hard but, at this price point, that is hardly going to be the deal-breaker.
The new seat upholstery is on-trend while the seats themselves are supportive in all the necessary places, even under the thighs where tall drivers can sometimes battle.
Cup holders have changed shape but the rest of the storage options remain as they were and plentiful, with the boot easily able to accommodate the needs of a small family, even one that still needs a pram. Head and legroom are on par for this class, with two adults able to travel comfortably in the two-stage reclining rear pew provided the front-seat passengers are not excessively tall.
On the road
At first glance you may not be able to see the biggest changes to this Series II but you can certainly feel it.
The suspension is all but new, with new roll bars and spring rates and different damper settings to ensure a much more comfortable ride than was the norm in its predecessor.
This retuning for Australia roads, which by and large are far from the best, equates into better ride quality and far less body roll around corners, even when you push quite hard.
The electric power steering has been upgraded from a 16-bit to a 32-bit computer processing unit, allowing for more direct feel and response.
Overall, the ix35 is a fairly enjoyable drive, even on secondary roads, recovering quickly from niggly imperfections and bumps.
Our test car was powered by a 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol engine with more torque than before available much lower down.
While it was more than competent with one or two people in the car, it struggled under load, noticeably hunting for the right gear when under strain. For our money the manual gearbox would be a better bet.
What do you get?
Standard inclusions include cruise control with steering wheel audio controls, 12.7cm touch-screen, a six-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and audio streaming, USB input with iPod capability, day/night rear-view mirror, projector beam headlights, reverse park-assist sensors and heated side mirrors and rear glass.
Safety is five-star and boasts six airbags, an anti-lock braking system with brake assist, traction and stability control, vehicle-stability management system, downhill brake control and hill-start assist.
The ix35 has been an impressive performer in this tight sector. This new model and fewer problems with supply should allow it to press that advantage. Major obstacles will come in the form of the Mazda CX-5 (from $27,880), Subaru Forester (from $29,990), Mitsubishi Outlander (from $28,990), Toyota RAV4 (from $28,490), Kia Sportage (from $25,990) and the Nissan X-Trail (from $27,990).
Versatility is the reason that SUVs are so popular. This compact example with its high driving position and spacious interior is a great option for young families and couples, with older drivers also benefiting from the ease of entry and exit.
A higher beltline and lower back seat means it can be difficult for the kids to look out the rear window, not ideal with those prone to car sickness.
It also irks that there is no reverse camera on the entry-level model - we reckon a car that costs so close to $30,000 deserves one.
Hyundai says economy has improved in this new ix35 with official figures for our 2.0-litre petrol unit listed at 8.4 litres/100km. In our test week, which comprised more short trips than long, we found it closer to 11L/100km.
The ix35 retains Hyundai's five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, as well as 12 months' free road-side assist.
Servicing is capped for the first three years, with the first service (15,000km) complementary.
There have been minimal changes to the exterior of the ix35. Updated looks come courtesy of squarish projector headlights with darker insets, LED driving lights and new alloy wheel designs.
What matters most
What we liked: Improved drive, updated looks, spacious cabin.
What we'd like to see: Reverse camera in entry level, more power in 2.0 petrol auto, plusher interior.
Warranty and servicing: Five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is capped for the first three return visits for maintenance, each service is $259 annually or every 15,000km.
Model: Hyundai ix35 Series II.
Details: Five-door front- wheel-drive compact SUV.
Engine: 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol generating maximum power of 122kW @ 6200rpm and peak torque of 205Nm @ 4600rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 8.2 litres/ 100km (combined average); 8.4L/100km (a).
CO2: 197g/km; 200g/km.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $26,990 (auto $29,190).