Car Reviews

2015 Hyundai i40 review

Robert Pepper’s 2015 Hyundai i40 review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.

In a nutshell: If you are one of the many who are not yet convinced by diesel cars then drive the i40 – it is diesel done right.

2015 Hyundai i40

PRICE :  $41,990 (+ORC) WARRANTY : 5 years / UNLIMITED km SAFETY : 5 star (34.38 / 37, tested in 2015) ENGINE : 1.7L 4-CYLINDER diesel POWER : 104kW @ 4000rpm TORQUE : 340Nm at 1750-2500 rpm   TRANSMISSION : 7-speed DCT AUTOMATIC DRIVE :  Front-wheel drive BODY :  4745 mm (L);  1815 mm (W),  1470 mm (H) TURNING CIRCLE :  10.94 m WEIGHT :  1661 kg SEATS :TOWING : 1500kg braked / 700kg unbraked FUEL TANK : 70 litres SPARE :  FULL-SIZE ALLOY THIRST : 5.1 L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle FUEL : DIESEL

Editor's Rating

How we rated the Hyundai i40 90%
The i40 is an accomplished mid-level sedan that is either good or average across the board, with special capability in effortless, frugal cruiseability thanks to a delightful combination of engine and gearbox. On that basis, you should shortlist it.
90
THE HYUNDAI I40 IS the Korean car maker’s mid-sized sedan, and is in the centre of Hyundai’s range for size – below are the i30 (long term test here) and i20, and larger than the i40, although it might not look it, are the Sonata, and the luxury Genesis. The i40 sedan is available in two levels of trim – Active, and the higher spec Premium which is our test car, fitted with a diesel engine and dual clutch (DCT) rather than standard automatic transmission.
 
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Design

The i40 looks modern but unremarkable.  It cannot be mistaken for a city hatchback as it is much longer and sleeker.  Hyundai would probably claim they have a distinctive look, and to an expert they do, but to the layman it’s just another car.  It has today’s modern cues of a body crease and LED daytime running lights, but they don’t make it or any other car a design classic.

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Room & practicality

Up front there’s a glovebox, centre console and sidepockets.  So far, so usual.   The i30 had a neat little storage space below the dash, and the i40 does too but it’s not as big, not large enough for my Samsung S5.  There’s a couple of pockets to the side of the centre dash which are useful, large enough for a phone.   There’s one 12v socket, an aux socket and a USB.  Drinks holders are sensibly positioned but not very wide.

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A clean, well-presented interior. The switches on the right of the console (hazard warning and below) are obscured by the steering wheel, but otherwise no problems with usability.

The outer rear seats are spacious, and there’s seatpockets on the back on both front seats.  The centre fold-down table is has a storage compartment, a nice touch.  The inner rear seat is as usual these days a lot less comfortable than the outers, and only for shorter people due to a lack of headroom, although foot room is good.

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In the boot is a cargo net to help things stay put, with four tie-down points.  Wish more cars had this sort of thing. You can also flip the rear seats forward in 40/60 split for extra loadspace.  It is good to see is that you can disconnect the right-side passenger seatbelt so it doesn’t get in the way. But if you really want to carry gear, you need to pick the i40 Tourer, the wagon version.

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Elastic cargo net helps keep things from moving around.

There is keyless entry, but you need to press a button on the doorhandle to unlock the car.  Usually in these systems you just grasp the handle and that is enough.

Overall, the i40 works well for room and practicality.  There are no annoyances, no niggles, the car is well built and there are a few useful touches you don’t always see elsewhere.

On the inside

Hyundai do interior design pretty well on their current models, and the i40 is no exception.  Colours are complementary not jarring, and almost everything is well coordinated and easy to use.  On our Premium model the driver’s seat is height adjustable, and so is the passenger’s. I’m beginning to notice little touches like this across Hyundais.          

But they did slip up in placing some controls where they are hidden by the left side of the steering wheel, so that takes some getting used to.  Even worse, it’s all buttons not dials so operating by touch is harder than it needs to be. As usual with Hyundai, there is no clock that is permanently on display, just a button to bring up the time if it’s not shown.

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The satnav is easy to use for the most part and responsive, like the infotainment unit in general.  I still prefer Google Maps on my phone though.  Bluetooth works well too.  Often I find cars already have the maximum number of phones paired, so you need to delete one to add yours.  In some cars this involves stabbing and swearing, in the i40 it was simple – the system took you to the right menu, allowed a deletion, and then continued with the pairing.  That’s how these things should work.

The infotainment unit i40 is single-screen, which like all such units means tedious flicking through screens to swap between for example navigation and audio.  I wish all cars had at least two separate displays.  The centre dash display doesn’t really complement the main infotainment unit as it does in some modern cars.

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The infotainment unit has all the basic functions but no special ones. Clarity of text, ease of use and speed of response are more important, and it scores well there.

In the rear the passengers get cooling vents and a 12v socket.   They also score tinted windows, handy for privacy and hot summer days.

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All four windows are one-touch automatic. You don’t often see that.

Performance, ride and handling

Around town:

No shortage of power, and decent fuel consumption too thanks to the modern engine and efficient DCT gearbox.  Diesels are around 30% more fuel-efficient than petrols, so the larger the car, the greater the saving in absolute terms.  The i40 isn’t a compact car, so diesel starts to make sense.

There is a reversing camera with guidelines, and all-round visibility is also good.  The steering is light and easy to use, the controls are logical, and the wheel is adjustable for reach and tilt.

The i40 has a self-parking feature for parallel parking (more on how they work here).  This is how good it is:

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Not great in other words, but liveable.  Still, at least it’s got the feature which is easy to use, switch it on, cruise for a park, and then follow the prompts which is just select reverse and drive as required.

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There is a handy Auto Hold feature which holds the car on the electronic parkbrake when it comes to a halt, whether it be downhill or uphill.  You simply accelerate slightly to move off.  The parkbrake takes up very little space, like all similar systems.  It will disconnect as soon as you put the car in Drive.

Like the i30 diesel, the i40 diesel is so keen to get going it is a bit touchy to maneuver at extremely slow speeds if you wanted to inch forwards.

Overall, the i40 is a perfectly good around-town car, doesn’t do anything poorly, but doesn’t offer anything in particular to lift it much beyond the average.

 
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Circular dial – the P is the auto parallel park, AUTO HOLD will apply the parkbrake when stopped (and it disconnects when you drive off), and the other P is to disable the parking sensors.

Freeways and rural roads: 

Here we come to the i40’s forte.  It is a car that is ideal for longer drives, easy to waft through bends, but not sports-car darty which would be tiresome over great distances.  The ride is quiet, comfortable and well-damped; Hyundai have an Australian tuning team, and their job has been done well [we hope to report on how this team works next year].  There is more than sufficient power available for overtaking, and the seven-speed DCT gearbox is smart enough to quickly select the appropriate gear if it hasn’t pre-empted the situation already.  The interior is designed for naturally comfortable usability, and the engine is frugal, sipping in the order of 4-6L/100km at speeds above 80km/h.

The i40 is no sportscar, or even a sports tourer, but the strong diesel with the DCT gearbox gives a satisfying sense of connected urgency as the torque builds from early in the rev range, and the handling is sufficiently sharp to make progress far from a chore.

There is perhaps one idiosyncrasy and one downside.   The idiosyncrasy is the gearbox’s tendency to be overly helpful with engine braking.  Modern automatics detect inclines and select, or hold, lower gears for better car control and to reduce the load on the brakes.  The i40 takes this a bit far and holds unsually low gears for an unusually long time.  Quite liveable, but slightly odd.

The one downside to the handling is low-speed acceleration out of the tigher corners, which given the gearbox and 340Nm torque figure can be pretty rapid.  Front-drive cars always have a problem putting significant amounts of grunt through the front wheels, which generally leads to unwanted self-steering feelings to the driver.   However, Hyundai have cleverly tuned their electric steering to counter this effect, and for the most part it works well enough although the tuning doesn’t always feel entirely natural.  It’s no problem for the driver, quite acceptable for this class of vehicle but should Hyundai bring out a performance version of this vehicle that particular area of dynamics will need to be addressed.

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There are two paddle shifts on the i40.  These are well designed because they are quite small, so they are very hard to accidentally toggle, yet more than large enough to use should you need to.  Many are the drivers that have accidentally changed gears using the paddles.  You can also select gears using a manual mode on the gearshift lever itself.

There is driving mode button.  One mode is Eco. Don’t bother, you’ll waste more energy switching it on than the car will save – something common to all such buttons.  All it does is mess with the aircon and deaden the throttle a fraction, to which you’ll respond by just pressing it harder.

The sport mode doesn’t do much either, just makes the steering a bit heavier, changes the gearshift points and that’s about it.  Vaguely handy if you really want to press on, but I suspect that button will never be touched by most drivers and the i40 handles nicely enough as it is.

Long distance cruising

The i40 is a good choice for long rural drives on the basis it has a very large fuel tank of 70L, which is as much capacity as some utes and the same as the HiAce I was testing at the time.  The fuel consumption is on the miserly side combined cycle 5.1L/100km, so even allowing for a bit more thirst you should be able to get an easy 1200km out of a tank with a reserve.  It’s also diesel, so no worries about finicky premium petrol.  And finally…there is a full-sized alloy wheel so no worries about runflats or silly space-saver spares.  The tyres are also 205/60/16 or 215/50/17 which are decent sizes for the rough rural roads, not super low profile city tyres that look good but wouldn’t handle a dirt road, and don’t forget the unlimited kilometer warranty over five years.   You could do a lot worse than an i40 for driving between remote towns.

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The dark rear tint is apparent in this shot.

Safety

The i40 scores a 5-star safety rating, as tested in 2014, scoring 34.18 out of 37.  The 2015 model hasn’t been tested but you’d expect that to do at least as well.  ANCAP say:

Important note: The diesel left-hand-drive European model was tested by Euro NCAP. Australasian specifications may vary and therefore models sold in Australasia might provide different levels of protection to those described on this page.
 
But, nevertheless the i40 gets a top rating from ANCAP.
 
There are two ISOFIX mounts in the rear, the front seatbelts are height-adjustable and there’s lane departure warning along with all the usual safety aids such as ABS and stability control.  There’s no AEB or active cruise, but there is a full-sized alloy spare wheel.  Overall, safety gets a solid green tick but not a gold star by today’s high standards, due to the lack of modern active safety.
 
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Reversing camera view

Pricing & Equipment

The i40 is offered as a Tourer (wagon) with a 2.0L petrol engine or a 1.7L diesel, or as a sedan with the diesel only.   Within each of the three guises there two trim specs, Active and Premium.   Our test is the Premium.

Here’s the main features the Premium gets over the Active:

  • Lane keep assist
  • Self-parking
  • Keyless entry
  • 7.0″ screen over 4.3″, better sound, satnav
  • Heated front seats
  • Electric seats, 10 adjustments on driver’s, height adjustable passenger’s seat
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Sunroof
  • Rear tinted windows
  • Cargo net
  • One-touch windows on all windows
  • Dual zone climate control
  • Power tailgate and roof rails (Tourer only)

plus the usual chrome inserts here and there.

Here’s the pricing for the range, with our test car in bold:

i40 Series II Pricing (exclusive of on-road costs)
i40 SEDAN 1.7L CRDi ACTIVE 7-spd DCT$33,090
i40 SEDAN 1.7L CRDi PREMIUM 7-spd DCT$41,990
i40 TOURER 2.0L GDi ACTIVE 6-spd Auto$32,490
i40 TOURER 2.0L GDi PREMIUM 6-spd Auto$41,390
i40 TOURER 1.7L CRDi ACTIVE 7-spd DCT$35,090
i40 TOURER 1.7L CRDi PREMIUM 7-spd DCT$43,990
   
i40 Series II Option
METALLIC / PEARL METALLIC / MICA PAINT$595

So that’s an extra $8,900 for the Premium.  I like how Hyundai have differentiated between Active and Premium, but nearly $9k for the extras on a $33k car is a bit steep so as usual, the lower-spec model has to have the value award.

As for the engines, well given how sweet that diesel is I’d be tempted to spend the extra over the petrol.

Overall, the i40 is good value, particularly with that warranty, 5 years and unlimited km. 

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Sunroof on the Premium. The spoiler is not the greatest look.

Second opinion

Juliette Remfrey drove the i40 so here’s her thoughts:

The i40 1.7L Premium 7-spd DCT sedan is a comfortable car for the daily commute or longer journey and sitting in the cabin gives you a feeling of being in a slightly more upmarket sedan. The fit and finish on the plastics and aluminium inlays is excellent and the whole interior theme ties together well. Nothing feels cheap or tacked on. There is seat heating in the front, but unfortunately the rear misses out – and that’s something you can say these days! Pressing the heat button once sets the seat to something not unlike ‘Roast’, but I quite liked this, it was hotter than any heated seat I’ve experienced in other cars. Thankfully there are two other settings. All seats are comfortable, the driver’s seat includes fast electronic adjustment. There is plenty of leg room and a large, deep, long boot with luggage net to secure your smaller cargo.

Continuing with the interior there is automatic function on all windows and privacy tinted glass in the rear. Dials are well placed and within easy reach aside from one – the Drive Mode button is oddly placed close to the passenger, not very convenient if you’re looking to switch between Eco, Normal and Sports modes unless you are stopped at the time. The infotainment unit is easy to operate with minimal menus to find the desired function and the unit operates without lag. The navigation employs incident monitoring which worked well during my trip and pointed out the exact distance to the incident and how long this would add to my travel time. Ambient lighting in the foot wells and courtesy headlights when you leave the car are a welcome feature. There is very good sound insulation, the noise from the diesel engine very muted on all but initial cold start and wind and tyre noise does not disturb.

The steering and brakes require a very light touch, so at no point does the car make you work or feel fatigued driving it. The ride is smooth and compliant but not so much as to make you feel disconnected from the road and as such the handling is quite sharp. Lane departure warning is excellent, subtle so as not to scare you but just to make you aware (visible warning on the dash and a quiet chime.)

My favourite aspect of the car was the torquey engine mated to the dual clutch automatic transmission. The car felt ready to pull hard at any speed, and in any gear. You’re never wanting for more power, even if you’ve left the car in Drive and it’s made its way quickly up to 7th gear. The engine and transmission are responsive and the power is immediately useable. The only downside is that the idle speed appeared to be set very high and caused jerky low speed maneuvres such as parking and creeping slowly in traffic. I had to be very careful to have my foot poised ready to hit the brake because it wanted to jump off and go the second the brake was let off.

Overall it’d be a great daily driver with just a couple of little quirks to get used to – the touchiness of the brakes and steering and mastering low speed manoeuvres without jerkiness. I do not recall that being an issue in our i30 diesel long-term tester.

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Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper