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Hyundai i40 Tourer review (2011 onwards)
What - Hyundai i40 Tourer
Where - Norway
Date - June 2011
Price - £18,395 - £25,895
Available - 8 September 2011
Key rivals -Ford Mondeo, Skoda Superb, Peugeot 508, Renault Laguna, Vauxhall Insignia, Volkswagen Passat
Summary - The Hyundai i40 Tourer brings masses of space, strong levels of standard equipment, low CO2 and a surprising slice of style to the D-segment, and delivers a serious wake up call to the opposition in the process
We like - Enormous inside, refined, well made, good to drive, comfortable, well equipped
We don't like - manual gearbox could be slicker, no more bargain basement pricing, hoping image isn't everything
The i40 is unapologetically a Hyundai. A new challenger in the Mondeo-sized 'D-segment', the i40 combines Hyundai's traditional warranty and value strengths with sleek looks and a thoroughly acceptable driving experience.
In other words, everyone else should be very worried indeed.
No, they really should. Launching first as a Tourer - a four-door saloon follows at the end of this year - the i40 is a genuinely desirable car, as the European-designed looks and European engineered chassis complete the Korean marque's armoury.
While there are hints of Mondeo and Insignia about its appearance, taken as a whole the i40 is clearly its own machine - low slung, tautly profiled and the most developed example yet of Hyundai's 'fluidic sculpture' design language.
Some of the detailing is - perhaps aptly - named for a bird of prey: the 'Falcon Eye' headlamps, complete with wiggly daytime running lights, and 'Falcon Wing' LED rear lamps. The overall appearance is highly confident, and sophisticated.
Add this new-found strength of identity to the i40's deliberate emphasis on low CO2 efficiency, stacks of standard equipment and a colossal, Skoda Superb-rivaling amount of passenger space, and you've got a serious proposition in this sector - reflected by the mainstream price.
The i40 is available in a deliberately limited range of variants, comprising three familiar trim levels - Active, Style and Premium - and four engines; 135hp 1.6-litre and 177hp 2.0-litre petrols are joined by two flavours of 1.7-litre CRDi turbodiesel offering 115hp and 136hp.
Only the top spec diesel and petrol variants were available to drive on the launch, and given that most sensible people will be opting for the diesel we're happy to report that this is the better package.
It isn't hugely vigorous. Hyundai has deliberately focused on low CO2 targets rather than outright performance - which means stirring the slightly clunky six-speed manual gearbox more than you might imagine - but refinement is comparable to everything else in the sector (excepting the supremely silent Volkswagen Passat).
Motorway miles therefore pass with little complaint. By contrast the 2.0 petrol we sampled suffered with a small amount of driveline shunt, and although quicker on paper this is hardly apparent in the real-world. The refinement benefits are limited, and you'll be seeing more of the fuel station forecourt.
Ride and handling
As the vast amount of cabin space suggests, the i40 isn't exactly of modest dimensions - and among its endowments is a suitably lengthy wheelbase, explaining both the amount of back seat legroom and the smooth ride comfort.
Exactly how well it will cope with the more regular surface intrusions of UK tarmac we can't be entirely sure, but it dealt with the considerably less common imperfections of Norway's roads with very limited drama.
Bumps and abrasions are easily absorbed, and although it does lean a little through the corner, the i40 hardly wallows - following the contained yet competent example set by the ix35. As entertaining as a Mondeo? No - but very neat and tidy, nonetheless.
We found the optional Lane Keeping Assist system - which acts on the steering to prevent the car from wandering between lanes - did some funny things to the steering weighting when making turns, but this isn't unusual for such devices and the interference goes away when you switch it off.
Even with the front seats (electrically operated in the case of our test examples) at maximum extension - which is a loooong way back from the dashboard (your scribe is 5'11" and could hardly reach the pedals) - there is still plenty of rear leg and knee room for a generously proportioned adult passenger.
It's hard to overplay just how much interior space the new i40 offers. This is a massively roomy car - and if space is still the ultimate luxury, it's right up with the Superb as a contender in this category, and that's compared to already roomy rivals such as the Mondeo.
Like the outside, the inside is now also unashamedly Hyundai. The centre console is distinctive in this regard - which is to say that with the sat nav screen and the vents it looks like the imbedded head of a Transformer - and the material quality is the best we've seen from the Koreans yet.
Speaking of the satellite navigation system - touchscreen, easy to use, occasionally dodgy positional lock in Norway (at one point it briefly thought we were in the sea...) - this comes as standard from the mid-point Style specification onwards.
Style is £1,800 more than the entry-level Active, and also includes dual zone climate, all-round parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, and innovative auto defogging windscreen.
But even the base model features Bluetooth, heated-electric mirrors with LED indicators, audio controls on the steering wheel, front and rear electric windows, air conditioning and alloy wheels. Move up to Premium and you get leather, keyless go, panoramic sunroof, heated seats, upgraded instrument panel...
The list goes on. Options - available on Premium only - include dynamic headlights, heated steering wheel, front seat cooling, rear seat heating, and a self-parking system, all portioned up into various Packs.
On top of which, the i40 being produced in estate-only form at first, the Tourer offers 553 litres of bootspace before you fold the rear seats down, and 1,719 litres overall. Plus there are handy load organisers to stop things moving around too much at speed.
We did have some inconsistent niggles with the driving position - the steering wheel wouldn't go high enough in some cars, while the seat wouldn't go low enough; oddly, however, some cars were better than others in this regard.
Economy and safety
Hyundai has really gone to town on the economy measures. 'Drive Blue' variants - available on petrol and diesel models below Premium spec - feature stop-start technology, low-rolling resistance tyres, and clever engine management.
This means the 115hp 1.7 in Active Blue Drive trim emits just 113g/km CO2, while the 136hp Blue Drive version of both Active and Style emits just 119g/km CO2. That's a claimed 65.7mpg and 62.8mpg, respectively.
Very impressive for a car of the i40's size and equipment levels. As for safety, there is no Euro NCAP result yet, but ESP and seven airbags are standard, and it's safe - pardon the pun - to say the i40 is unlikely to get a poor result.
The MSN Cars verdict
The i40 represents the culmination of years of hard work from Hyundai.
Having established its credentials as a value player, then bolstered these with the five-year unlimited-mileage warranty - which now includes five years' roadside recovery and annual health checks, too - the i40 sees Hyundai achieve design flair and driving satisfaction goals that should spark any D-segment customer's interest.
Sure, you can carry on being a badge snob. But in reality, Hyundai now has an upwardly thrusting image that demands if not admiration then certainly respect.
The i40's pricing may not have the bargain basement appeal of Hyundais past - in fact, it's happy trading punches with rivals on their terms - but with the level of kit and the sheer competence of the car you're still getting exceptional value.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||1.6, 2.0|
|Engines, diesel||1.7 (115), 1.5 (136)|
|Power, hp||115 - 177|
|Torque, lb ft||121 - 240|
|0-62 mph, secs||9.7 - 12.9|
|Top speed, mph||118 - 132|
|Mpg combined||39.2 - 65.7|
|CO2, tax||113 - 169g/km, 10 - 23%|
|Ratings||Hyundai i40 Tourer 1.7 CRDi (136) Premium|
|Ride & handling||****|
|MSN Cars verdict||****|
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