David Bonnici tests the turbo diesel Hyundai i40 Series II and finds a family car that’s as economical as it is good looking
Hyundai has made great inroads to the Australian car market, with many of its models being hits in their respective classes.
One model that hasn’t quite become a household name is the mid-sized i40, which has plenty of tough competition, with the Toyota Camry, Kia Optima and even the Hyundai Sonata sitting next to it in showrooms.
The i40 was also one of the more bland-looking Hyundai’s when compared to stablemates such as the Elantra. But that’s changed with the Series II, which comes with a tasteful facelift that gives it graceful sweeping lines, pretty teardrop headlights and a big-bold grille.
It has more technical features than the petrol-powered Sonata and comes with a very economical 1.7-litre turbo-diesel engine.
The i40 comes in sedan and station wagon (Tourer) and in two specs, Active and Premium.
I test drove the i40 Premium sedan, which has plenty of features for a drive-away price starting about $44,000.
The i40 Premium is a nice car to be in and very well appointed. The first thing you notice is the big sunroof, which really adds to the ambience.
The leather-appointed seats are firm and take a bit of getting used to but once you do you’ll enjoy the back support. The driver’s seat has 10 electronic adjustments and both front seats have heating.
The dashboard is nice to look at, with a futuristic design including angular air vents that lead to the seven-inch touch screen that shows entertainment, phone, reverse camera and sat-nav functions.
The gauge cluster has information/trip computer screen in between the tacho and speedometer, which is controlled from the steering wheel, along with cruise control, phone and radio/media mode and volume.
It has ample storage – the centre console has a nice big bucket under the arm rest along with a couple of cup holders.
There’s a nice deep aperture in front of the gear stick where you can put and plug in your phone to USB and auxiliary sockets. You can also put your keys in there, which is good for a car with push button start.
The back seat has plenty of leg and head room for a medium car. Back-seat passengers have their own air vents and a fold-down armrest in the middle with drink holders and storage space under a flip-up lid.
The boot is huge – its 505-litre capacity is bigger than the Holden Commodore.
Beyond the standard safety features, the i40 Premium has a host of extras including: Auto Hold (which engages the electronic park brake when stopped on an incline), Park Assist sensors, Emergency Stop Signal, Lane Keeping Assist SysteM, and Smart Park Assist, which automatically steers the car into a parallel parking spot.
I’ve tested a few cars with the latter but have always found it complicated.
This seemed a lot simpler albeit still very counter-instinctive – you need to remember that it doesn’t control speed or brakes.
That said, the car is easy enough to park manually thanks to the clear reverse camera display.
The 1.7-litre turbo diesel engine feels smooth once you’re driving and the seven-speed automatic transmission sends the power through the gears quite nicely.
One thing I didn’t like was the noticeable lag if you stomp on the pedal, particularly from a standing start. Be very careful at busy roundabouts.
On the plus side, the i40 is incredibly economical, with a published combined economy rate of 5.1 litres/100 kilometres – less than Toyota’s Hybrid Camry.
Cars like this will come into their own once Australia’s favourite family cars are no longer built here.