Hyundai i40 wagon puts up the challenge
  |  First Published: September 2012

Styled in Germany and manufactured in South Korea, Hyundai’s all new i40 wagon offers a brilliant combination of eye catching lines, generous amounts of passenger and luggage room and a frugal yet powerful diesel engine.

The i40 is an interesting and impressive vehicle. It’s aesthetically pleasing with sweeping lines and low roof line, but practicality isn’t lost in looks; it’s surprising roominess and huge amount of features is very refreshing to see.

The i40 has given the usual boxy shaped wagon a much-needed makeover. Hyundai’s European heritage offers a design that’s sleek, with up to the minute styling inside and out.

Available in petrol and diesel variants, the i40 range consists of three models. There’s the reviewed Active, the Elite and Premium model. Although only a base model, the i40 Active still manages to combine a lot of what Hyundai have strived for in past years in the way of convenience, safety features, innovation and providing a thoroughly comfortable car to drive.

Styling is very modern with the current Hyundai look prominent; a large lower grille, very stylish dusk-sensing headlights and an array of LED daytime lighting also featured in the up market Euro style. The i40’s bonnet and guards are also given sweeping, deeply sculptured lines that add to the overall look. The rear end also features curving lines, a spoiler and very large LED rear lighting. In all, a very smart styling job creating definite road presence.

6-speed auto diesel

The reviewed shiny black Active came in six speed auto transmission mated to a surprisingly quiet common-rail intercooled 1.7L turbo diesel engine. Output was an excellent 100kw of power and 330Nm of torque. It didn’t really provide jack rabbit style take offs, but certainly shifted the solid Hyundai along readily enough for cut and thrust traffic situations.

There’s little doubt Hyundai are aiming to take on European stalwarts, with the i40 given the ultra smooth diesel power plant, smart styling and all round performance levels. Some major rivals in the market offer more power, but the Hyundai is not lacking in acceleration in day to day driving scenarios, and the engine receives distinctively reduced stress. On the freeway the engine ticked over in sixth gear at 1800rpm and 110km/h.

Luxurious interior

The i40 interior also reflects Hyundai’s German influence; it just oozes class. The i40’s sweeping exterior lines somehow seem to extend within the cabin. Everything has an easy to use feel about it with classy dials and switches that aren’t too overwhelming. Within five minutes of sitting behind the wheel I was at ease with all controls from the high quality instrumentation through to the height adjustable seat and rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel.

The audio system is a four speaker CD/MP3 system with iPod cable, Bluetooth connectivity and left side steering wheel controls. A very tidy cruise control system snugly sits into the right side of the leather bound wheel.

Rear seat passengers are certainly not neglected either, with doors opening almost at right angles to the central pillar to allow easy access. Rear air conditioning is standard, as is ample head and legroom. A centre armrest completes the comfort standards for rear passengers in this five door, five seater.

Rear luggage room is worthy of mention. There’s 553L of space with rear seats upright, and 1719L available with the 60/40 split fold seats down flat.

On the Road

A mix of city and country driving gave us a good idea of what the i40 offers the average buyer. Fuel consumption around town was very good with 6-8L/100km averaged. With Hyundai claiming figures of around 5L/100km from the i40’s 70L tank, long range touring could see 1000km between top ups. This is thanks to the six speed auto’s tall gearing. For those that like to change gears manually, the combination of paddles and ‘sport’ mode do provide some excellent driver input.

Suspension consisted of front Macpherson struts and a multi-link rear, which made light work of most of the suburban pot holes; only the deepest holes caused discomfort. Handling was spot on even with the car well loaded, however the electric steering system that has replaced the usual power steering does take some time to get used to. Hyundai, like other switched on makers, have turned to electric steering to save fuel, which is important. However it’s quite removed from the direct steering responses of old.

Summing Up

There’s little doubt the i40 is going to offer stiff competition within its mid-sized wagon market, where the likes of the Ford Mondeo, Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat are firmly entrenched.

The Hyundai i40 is priced around the $33,990 mark for the six speed auto diesel. Pricing is very sharp given the features that are packed into this smartly designed vehicle. Safety features are plentiful; from nine air bags through to hill start assist. Braked trailer rating is 1500kg, and unbraked is 700kg, so towing a boat or camper trailer shouldn’t be an issue.

Hyundai’s five year, unlimited km warranty with roadside assist is exceptional. Obviously there’s plenty of confidence in the product!

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