Porsche turns its Cayman up to 11 with the brilliant GTS
Hyundai ix35: month one
On fleet since: April 2010
Official combined mpg: 48.7mpg
Our average economy: 33.5mpg
Performance: 0-62mph 11.3secs/112mph
Power/Torque: 134hp/236lb ft
Insurance group: 19 (on scale of 50)
List price: £20,745
Options fitted: Media pack, including satnav, rear camera, uprated stereo (£700), metallic paint (£405)
Price as tested: £21,850
Pros: Compact dimensions, drives like a car, strong value
Cons: Doors hard to shut, satnav irritations, economy not there yet
Gallery: Hyundai ix35 2.0 CRDi 4wd
Where have we been?
Hyundai pulled out the stops on our ix35, getting the full tow bar and electrics installed on what may well have been one of the first cars to be delivered to a customer.
It's a Witter system, and particularly neat because the tow ball is detachable. In fact the ball came in its own bag tucked under the boot floor, and I needed to fit it as soon as the ix35 arrived on the driveway.
It wasn't easy, simply because instructions were in hieroglyphics, that 21st century solution to a proper written English. After 30 minutes of struggle I abandoned the instructions, cracked the problem and drove down to see my mate Rupert.
Rupert is a serious, competition-focussed balloonist, and the Hyundai was being tested as a tow car for his equipment, and a chase car once the balloon was in flight.
All looked well, so at 5am the next morning we hooked the trailer up and set off. The rear-view camera that forms part of the ix35's £700 media pack comes into its own when positioning a car up against a trailer.
What do we like?
It turned out I was crewing on the first flight, so Sabine jumped into the Hyundai and followed us with a mix of visual sightings and walkie-talkie. I thought the ix35 had towed very well and Sabine confirmed that it was as good as their own larger-engined Honda CR-V.
The detachable tow hook at the front was useful to anchor the balloon as we inflated it - on his Honda Rupert has to crawl underneath to fasten the strop to part of the suspension.
We even managed a bit of off-roading, first onto Thame showground and then into a field to collect the balloon at the end of the flight. We didn't make the landing target, sadly, but there's always the next flight.
Except a misjudgement and a sudden change in wind direction meant the canopy was snagged on a barbed wire fence, so that was the end of the day for everyone.
For semi-serious jobs like this, the ix35 works well. Visibility is good, steering light and accurate and the turning circle particularly tight.
Thankfully it lacks my pet diesel hate, encountered in so many Fords, of sudden engine death. Let the revs drop just a shade too low and the engine simply stops. With the sudden jolt.
The Hyundai ix35 is more flexible, and an all-round easy car to live with. Performance from the two-litre diesel is both punchy and effortless.
The Premium trim level gets keyless locks and ignition. You need to touch the door lock first, rather than simply grab the handle as you do in some rivals, but the hands-free system is still very convenient.
Better is the routine of getting in, pushing your foot on the clutch, pressing the Start button once and then putting the safety belt on as the glow plugs warm and the engine starts. Not a second wasted.
What don't we like
It's not quite bulletproof, though. Open the doors before the engine has been switched off and there's a buzzer that's reluctant to stop. And the radio won't stay on long if you are sitting in the car with the engine off.
I have just come back from a 100-mile thrash around the Oxfordshire countryside on a reconnaissance for a classic car rally. Four-up didn't affect the performance one bit, but bumpier roads limit speed if you have any sensitivity for passenger comfort.
But the passengers certainly rated the room and simply loved the twin panoramic glass sunroof, which makes it much lighter in the rear seats.
I am still having issues with the stereo and satnav, but a new disc has been promised that should cure the niggles. I haven't tried a CD yet, sticking with the iPod interface. Controls for that on the steering wheel would be very useful, rather than plugging away at the touch screen.
I'd hoped for more from the economy. The first tank returned 28.2pmg but since then, post-towing, it has risen to 33.5. That's a long way short of the 48.7mpg claimed average, but maybe more miles will help. The next few weeks should prove ideal for maximising economy.
What now for the ix35?
I'll admit to being quite excited about this. We are taking the Hyundai on Brittany Ferries to Caen, then driving down to Barcelona avoiding the Autoroute, right across the Pyrenees.
Then a ferry to Mallorca for ten days relaxation and a bit of off-roading, before heading back to Santander and the long crossing back to the UK. I am already quietly confident the ix35 will be a good tool.
Sure a Jaguar XJ would be more luxurious, but the ix35 is the sort of car you feel less precious about. I just have to make sure we don't get our tyres punctured by thieves in Barcelona, who then proceed to rob us.
Report 1: Hyundai ix35 arrival
Report 2: Hyundai ix35 goes ballooning (this report)
Report 3: Hyundai ix35 goes on holiday
Report 4: Hyundai ix35 off-roading in Mallorca
Report 5: Hyundai ix35 nips to the shops
Report 6: Hyundai ix35 goes biking
Report 7: Hyundai ix35 in the snow
Report 8: Hyundai ix35 final report
Review: Hyundai ix35
Hyundai videos from MSN Cars
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
Watch as this professional driver demonstrates incredible Touge drifts in his Toyota Supra on a dry closed-circuit road. Please do not try this on your own! Credit to 'TenguDrift'.
Date 20 hrs ago, Duration 1:00, Views 962