Regarded as one of the best selling SUVs in our country, the iX35 is one of Hyundai’s more popular offerings. Introduced nearly three years ago, this compact yet roomy SUV quickly gained a steady following from buyers who liked the styling, the high driving position and the over all roominess that goes hand in glove with a medium sized SUV.
The initial model sold well, with just a few grumbles from owners about the suspension which was on the harder side of firm. The good news is that the Series II iX35 is going to ride noticeably better thanks to retuned suspension.
Exterior changes involve new projector-style headlights, new wheels and the inclusion of roof rails. Under the bonnet there are engine changes, with upgrades offering more power without much detriment to economy.
On the interior of the iX35, changed upholstery on base models is offered while more upmarket models are kitted with metal highlights to break up the otherwise uninteresting dash layout. There’s also a larger touch screen and reversing camera on high-end models.
Overall, though, the Hyundai’s cabin layout is still very good and ideal for even longer journeys by four adults (or three youngsters plus Mum and Dad) thanks to ample head and leg room, and comfortable seats that you actually sit in rather than on. And with plenty of storage areas it’s easy to relax after shedding a few odds and ends.
Bluetooth phone and audio are standard, and the audio system with its touch screen had six speakers plus steering wheel controls. USB auto input with iPod compatibility is standard, as is an aux input jack.
And let’s not forget the all-important SUV road stance, where the higher seating and ground clearance give you a ‘commanding’ driving experience. There’s also the bonus of wide opening doors, which allow easy entry and exit for those of us who aren’t quite as young as we used to be.
The iX35 still remains a brilliantly practical vehicle in many respects. Power operation for most functions is standard and the buyer has the choice of manual or auto in base grades or all auto for those more well-appointed models.
Ride comfort is the big thing to note. With changes to suspension settings, the resulting improvement sees far less body roll, and quicker settling after impact with bad surfaces. It’s been reported that Hyundai trialled over a dozen different suspension settings, both front and rear, prior to arriving at the current version. It’s still somewhat firm but definitely an improvement.
Steering has also been improved with less turns lock to lock than previously and far more response to boot. Again, full marks to Hyundai.
Engine choices are a three way proposition. The four-cylinder 2.0L (122 kW and 197 Nm) and 2.4L (136kW and 240Nm) petrol units both now have direct fuel injection while the brilliant 2.0L diesel (135 kW and 392 Nm of torque) remains still the best engine by far given its tremendous strength. Note that only the base 2.0 petrol can be purchased with a manual gearbox.
Reviewed was the base Active four-cylinder petrol, a 2WD with auto transmission. Base model it might have been but it still came with a lot of features, including the highest 5-star ANCAP crash rating. Note that every iX35 variant has six air bags, along with EBD, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Down Hill Brake Control and Hill Start Assist. Parking beepers are standard across the range as well.
Whether on the highway or in traffic, the ix35 was a very smooth and easy car to drive. The six-speed auto unit linked smoothly with the wheel-activated cruise control and maintained the selected speed with great accuracy. (Which doesn’t always happen, just quietly.)
At speed on the highway the petrol cruised very smoothly, with always plenty of power in reserve for overtaking or maintaining easy going up a range. Dropping a gear on a steep hill does see a little engine buzz intruding but it’s usually only momentarily until you select the next gear. What was apparent was some tyre and wind noise but doubtlessly the next model released will see that situation changed.
The ride was as sharp as a pin with even quite hard cornering seeing the Hyundai staying right on line. Fuel consumption was 8.7L per 100km, a little above Hyundai’s acclaimed 8.4L per 100km.
One thing I did notice was some shortcomings with rear visibility, being somewhat obscured by the rear quarter glass windows which made over-shoulder glances when changing lines somewhat difficult – ditto reversing into a tight area. Unfortunately, a rear view camera is not standard on the base model.
The iX35’s cargo area is generous at 465L standard, and with the option of lowering one of the rear seats which have a 60:40 split, the excellent load space only gets better. For those who want to tow a small boat, the iX35 is rated for a 750kg unbraked trailer, or a 1500kg braked trailer.
When it comes to the new iX35, I believe there is a lot to like about this car. It’s obvious that Hyundai is endeavouring to keeping apace of rivals in this very tight segment of the SUV market, and sales results will speak for themselves. The Active 2WD auto would come home for around the $26,990 mark plus on-road costs.
Note that a five-year unlimited warranty was pioneered by Hyundai and continues today. Capped price service is also offered.Reads: 921