Hyundai ix35: First Impressions

Hyundai is a company that, along with sister’s Kia, has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. The ix35 was the first vehicle that really kicked off the brand’s revitalisation; taking on Hyundai’s trademark traits and design philosophies that have helped make them what they are today.

This week Hyundai released a facelift of their hot-selling compact SUV. However before you all begin to point out that the car doesn’t look any different, Hyundai don’t actually believe in facelifts, but rather model enhancements that see changes to anything other than body panels. Outwardly then, the new ix35 has new front headlights, new taillights, a new grille and new wheels.

On the inside there has been a shuffle regarding standard features across the line-up; with three levels of specification and two engine options making up six derivatives of the ix35. Tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment becomes standard across the range together with wheel-mounted audio controls; bigger, illuminated cupholders; keyless entry and start for the Elite derivatives; a new audio system with Bluetooth that is incorporated in a TFT 4.3 inch colour LCD touchscreen with a rearview camera (in the Executive and Elite derivatives).

The most significant change comes under the hood. The old 2.0 litre petrol engine is replaced with a new, ‘super-efficient’ 2.0 litre Multi-Port Injection engine, that while being less powerful offers a more even and efficient delivery of power and torque – with peaks of 116kW at 6 200rpm and 192Nm at 4 000rpm.

The alternate is a 2.0 litre CRDi turbodiesel engine that is also available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic; and is further enhanced by All-Wheel Drive to make this the range-topping ix35.

So, how do all the enhancements fit together to make a better SUV? Well, the new lights help keep the 3 year old shape looking fresh and the interior gets a boost of technology to keep it relevant. No doubt it won’t be long before the ix35 gets a complete cosmetic overhaul.

The underpinnings are far more influential however. The 2.0 litre turbo diesel is a gem; with exceptional power delivery and supreme refinement that makes it almost undetectable as a diesel powered motor. There’s no turbo lag and no discernable rumble at all. Furthermore it feels torquey across the rev range.

The 2.0 petrol motor on the other hand suffered a little at Joburg’s altitude. Torque isn’t available low down enough (and there probably isn’t enough of it anyway) to prevent stirring at the six speed manual ‘box to make any meaningful progress.

The chassis is largely unchanged and still stands up well when it comes to on road characteristics; it’s comfortable, body-roll is fairly limited and grip is plentiful in normal conditions. The steering doesn’t provide any meaningful feedback though; no matter which of the Comfort, Normal or Sport modes you use.

Overall I can see why the ix35 is such a large part of Hyundai’s sales figures; and indeed the overall segment. It does everything you’d want from a family SUV; and the new model continues to do those things very well.

Prices of the new Hyundai ix35 range:

2.0 NU Premium 6MT2                  R 319 900
2.0 NU Premium 6AT2                    R 334 900
2.0 NU Executive 6MT2                 R 349 900
2.0 NU Elite 6AT2                              R 369 900
R2.0 Elite 6MT2                                 R 389 900
R2.0 Elite 6AT4                                   R 449 900

First published in Autodealer KZN

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