Car ReviewsFirst Drive

Hyundai ix35 First Drive Car Review

Paul Murrell reviews the new Hyundai ix35 with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

IN A NUTSHELL: If anyone tries to tell you Australian car buyers are swayed by badge and image, point them at Hyundai’s super-smart SUV, the Hyundai ix35. It’s the second best seller in its category. And gaining.

PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS: The Hyundai ix35 has always been great value, and most buyers were willing to overlook its shortcomings. With the Series II Hyundai has addressed these and made it an even better buy for families.

HYUNDAI STARTED OUT WITH a great product in the ix35 and as we have come to expect, the company simply keeps making it better. The latest version, the Series II, shows why the Korean company is winning over savvy buyers.

Since there was little wrong with the ix35 styling, and this is only a facelift, changes have been kept to a minimum. Up front there are projector headlights, slightly squarer than before, and LED driving lights. Alloy wheels have a slightly new look and the mid-range and top line models get roof rails claimed to improve aerodynamics. Squint a little and you can see elements of the Hyundai hero car, the Veloster.

Hyundai Australia has tweaked the suspension and steering on the ix35

The ix35 now comes with a choice of three engines: two petrol four-cylinder models, both upgraded with direct injection, and a virtually unchanged 2.0-litre diesel. The 2.0-litre petrol engine puts out 122kW of power, while torque rises to 205Nm (up 8Nm).

The smaller engine has a more linear power delivery, having been recalibrated to produce its torque lower in the rev range. Fuel consumption has dropped from 8.5L/100km to 8.2. At 136kW and 240Nm, the 2.4-litre engine has 6kW extra and 13Nm more torque. It accelerates with greater alacrity overall and in the intermediate gears, but there has been a fuel consumption penalty of 0.6L/100km (up from 9.2 to 9.8). The diesel puts out 135kW and 392Nm and its fuel consumption has dropped from 7.5L/100km to 7.2 – not spectacularly economical for a diesel, it has to be admitted.

Only the base level Active model with the small petrol engine is available with manual transmission, the others all having a six-speed auto. The changes have made the 2.4-litre model much easier to live with while the diesel would be our recommendation if your driving profile is suitable, although the $2600 price premium over the 2.4 petrol will complicate the equation.

There were some complaints about the ride and handling of the outgoing ix35, and Hyundai (and in particular, the local team) has addressed these issues. Significant steering and suspension modifications have been carried out, with the spring rate going up by 28% for less body roll and quicker recovery after hitting a bump.

Hyundai has improved the suspension on the ix35 but some owners might find the ride a little too firm

The electric power steering now uses a 32-bit computer processor (previously 16-bit) and this noticeably speeds response to steering input and delivers more feedback. Steering lock has been reduced from 2.99 to 2.83 turns lock-to-lock. The sub-frame is mounted using flexible bushes, rather than the solid mounting in the previous model.

I think it’s a big improvement, but some Hyundai buyers may take issue with the firmer ride. However, I did find fault with the stability system; it is way too quick to intervene when traction is lost even momentarily, and it feels like a lifetime (we hope it isn’t) for the system to send power back to the wheels after it has been cut. I began to dread any bump when accelerating and knew it would lead to the stability control light on the dash flashing furiously.

Hyundai has updated the ix35. It looks good on the inside and outside

Inside, the ix35 has also come in for some updating. The new seat upholstery in the base model is an improvement, while the mid- and high-spec models get more soft-touch trim and the odd silver highlight. The sat-nav is updated and now displays on a seven-inch screen (up from 6.5). The size, storage space and general layout are very family-friendly, but smaller passengers in the back seat may find outward visibility somewhat compromised.

Safety in the Series II continues to be five-star ANCAP with six airbags, rear sensors are fitted to all models and a reversing camera on the more up-spec models.

Prices for the ix35 have crept upwards, although the base model has retained its $26,990 entry price. Considering the improvements and extra value, the price rise isn’t unreasonable. Top price comes in at $40,490 for the top-of-the-range Highlander with all-wheel-drive and diesel. With a model to suit most budgets (so long as you can start at $27k) and a generous five year unlimited kilometre warranty, the ix35 looks set to continue its climb in the category.

Hyundai ix35

PRICE from $26,990 (plus ORC) WARRANTY five-year, unlimited kilometres SAFETY RATING five-star ANCAP ENGINE 2.0-litre petrol engine POWER/TORQUE 122kW @ 6200rpm, 205Nm @ 4000rpm; 2.4-litre petrol engine, 136kW @ 6000rpm, 240Nm @ 4000rpm; 2.0-litre diesel engine, 135kW @ 4000rpm, 392Nm @ 1800-2500rpm TRANSMISSION six-speed manual (Active only), six-speed automatic BODY 4.41m (L); 1.82m (W); 1.66m (H) WEIGHT 1470-1706kg THIRST 7.2L/100km (diesel, combined); 8.2L/100km (2.0-litre petrol, combined); 9.8L/100km (2.4-litre petrol, combined)

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober