|  First Published: June 2011

At a glance at the state of the art Euro accented styling of Hyundai’s ix35, its hard to believe its a replacement for the successful Tucson. Gone are the boxy lines of the Tucson; replaced by the rakish, curvaceous, lines of the new comer courtesy of Hyundai’s German design centre at Russelsheim.

Space-age front and rear bumper areas, a rear roof spoiler, fat wheel arches, eye catching planes around the shoulder and door sill areas, sweeping light clusters and stylish front and rear pillars are all part of the new design.

There’s Tucson heritage, certainly, but the new kid on the block is some 10mm and a little lower all round at 170mm against the Tucson’s 186mm.

There are some interesting variants within the marque, too. Both front wheel drive and all wheel drive models adorn show rooms, and there is a choice between diesel (135 kW, 392Nm of torque) and two petrol engine versions. The latter are both four-cylinder power plants with the 2.0L version producing 122kW of power and 197Nm of torque and the 2.4L producing 130kW and 227Nm.

Selecting the right ix35 comes down to what an individual wants the vehicle to do, I guess. Towing capacity is 750kg unbraked and 1600kg braked, and I guess the diesel with its 392Nm of torque, which is a lot of twisting power from a small capacity engine, takes the cake.

Popular size sees plenty of competitors

Size wise the ix35 sits in the same niche` as the Toyota RAV4, VW Tiguan, Nissan X-Trail, Honda CRV and many others. All are SUV’s or cross-over style vehicles and all boast all round high seating, extra ground clearance and increased cargo areas; aspects loved by buyers.

Models within the ix35 range extend from the top shelf all wheel drive Highlander to the front wheel drive 2.0L Active. The all wheel drive 2.4L Elite respectively sits between the two models.

Active petrol auto reviewed

I found the 2.0L front wheel drive Active petrol six speed auto to be a well put together vehicle with an attractive, airy, feel about the interior with it’s contrasting metal accents throughout. Hyundai has kept to traditions and included also a stack of standard equipment.

Easily adjusted wide bucket seats make for plenty of comfort for those in the front. Cup and bottle holders, map pockets and other storage areas are easily identified here and there while luggage space grows from a standard 730L to 1579L with the rear seats folded down.

The front seats are spacious while rear seats remain comfortable with ample legroom; although its best with two people, three is still possible. A decent centre arm-rest is available with two enjoying the rear seat ride.

The driver will find that power everything is the norm, with USB/iPod compatible audio buttons right next to the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel.

Hyundai certainly don’t skimp on safety equipment. The Active model sports six air bags, including side curtains and active front head rests, along with ABS with assist and brake force distribution to compensate for weight distribution within the vehicle. Hill start assist and downhill brake control helps keep speed steady on the slopes. Note that the steering wheel has tilt adjustment but not reach adjustment; this will be rectified in the near future to help out taller drivers.

On the Road

I had fairly high expectations concerning the performance of the ix35 and by and large it delivered. The driving position and over all driving dynamics were pleasing and wife Denise also liked the general feel of the vehicle after a stint at the wheel.

My view is that the Active’s 2.0L engine had adequate power without being any sort of fire breather. Highway cruising was fine but highway overtaking required some careful calculations before commitment. Big hills were a bother and some down changing of gears occurred within the auto unit once the gradient increased markedly. The option of changing gears manually was also there, of course, and simply by flicking the selector to the side a driver has five manual gears at their disposal.

In the city the 2.0L Active was fine to drive; easily keeping up with other traffic at the lights and elsewhere.

Both drivers and occupants will be happy with the suspension set up. It did an excellent job of taking the washboard feel out of some back roads with little sign of it bottoming except on some really nasty holes large enough to hide a Queensland Blue pumpkin. I was surprised to find the suspension was reasonably taut for an SUV and the car did sit well around hard corners.

Overall, the Hyundai ix35 is a more than worthy replacement for the successful Tucson and sales are indicating that I’m not the only one that thinks so. As an SUV the 2.0L Active 2WD offers some advantages over standard family style sedans but it’s wise to remember that it’s best kept away from the beach and off road tracks. Dry dirt roads, city work are its forte`. Can you tow a tinny? Certainly.

Fuel economy is rated as 8.5L/100km for combined city and highway work and I nearly matched it at 8.9L/100km on a mixed drive. It’s pleasing to note that the ix35 comes with a full sized spare wheel under the rear cargo area.

Price of the Active 2.0L 2WD auto is around the $28,990 mark without on road costs, which is quite competitive given the overall specs and performance of the vehicle.

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