$26,990 – $37,590
Good: Modern & funky exterior PLUS a powerful-yet-frugal Turbo Diesel engine PLUS six-speed automatic gearbox PLUS an improved interior EQUALS strong value for money.
Not so Good: Relatively heavy design. The Petrol engine’s noisy under hard acceleration. Firm ride over rough surfaces.
Design and Engineering
Good : Styled in Hyundai’s German design studio, the ix35 was the first Hyundai to feature the brands ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ theme when it arrived Down Under in February 2010 (we’d go so far as saying it’s one of the ‘coolest’ looking Compact SUV’s on the market). From the large hexagonal grille up-front, which immediately gives the Hyundai a presence when you spot one in your rear-view mirror, to the rear hatch which features what could be called a ‘mini duck tail’ (Porsche 911 fans will understand this term), the ix35’s design gets the Car Verdict Thumbs Up.
Not so good : Considering the size of the vehicles ‘footprint’ the Hyundai ix35 is no lightweight design – tipping the scales between 1.6 & 1.8 tonnes (compare this to a medium family-sized wagon and you’ll see that on average SUV’s are definitely heavier creatures). The front grille is body coloured on the entry-level ‘Active’ grade and as a result (to our eyes) it doesn’t appear as well integrated as the grey coloured versions on the mid and upper-grades.
Interior and Styling
Good : The steering wheel is a funky four-spoke design and the driver’s seat features six-way power adjustment (except on the entry-level Active grade). The seat position is relatively high, providing good frontal visibility.
The rear seats offer sufficient head room and feature a fold-down centre armrest with decent sized cupholders. The Hyundai ix35’s cabin storage space is great for a family car and the rear seats fold flat to increase cargo space from almost 600L to over 1,400L! The panoramic glass roof, standard on the Highlander grade, creates a lovely lightened feel to the interior.
Pre October 2010 the Hyundai ix35’s steering wheel adjusted for tilt (up & down) but not reach (in & out). Not any more, thankfully it now does both. The 2011 ix35 range also gains additional sound deadening materials to reduce road noise levels.
Not so good : The dash features more hard plastics than we’d like. Rear legroom is adequate rather than generous, and the rising lower window-line means little kids in the second row may struggle to get a good view of the outside world…
Good : Entry-level Active’s 2.0-litre Petrol engine produces a respectable 122kW of power (& 197Nm of torque) and whilst noisy under hard acceleration it is by no means forgotten – it’s the sole front-wheel drive variant and subsequently lighter than the AWD ix35’s.
The mid-spec 2.4-litre Petrol benefits from significantly more torque (227Nm); however by far the most impressive engine is the smooth-sounding 2.0L Turbo Diesel which generates a whopping 135kW of power and 392Nm of torque.
Not so good : In real-world driving the 2.4-litre Petrol engine doesn’t feel any quicker than the entry-level 2.0-litre; however it does sound less noisy.
Ride and Handling
Good : The Hyundai ix35 is one of the flatter-riding Compact SUV’s on the market and is not afraid of being flicked through the corners (relatively speaking of course). Considering the Highlander grade rides on larger 18-inch alloy wheels it is impressive that this grade’s ride is as comfortable, if not more, than the mid-spec Elite model.
Not so good : The steering is on the light side, but considering this isn’t a sports car, it’s hardly worth mentioning. Under hard acceleration the Turbo Diesel grades can suffer from torque steer through the steering wheel (no surprise considering how much pulling power this engine has). The impressive handling (for a high-riding SUV anyway) does come at the expense of ride quality; whilst fine over smooth surfaces the ride is a touch on the firm side over rougher surfaces… From October 2010 the electronic power steering has been changed to improve steering feel and in order to improve the ride quality all AWD variants now get ASD suspension as standard. We’ll let you know what we think of the changes very soon, once we spend some time driving the updated range.
Buying and Owning
Good : All ix35’s are great value for money with high levels of standard features. The automatic is a quality six-speed box – a significant improvement over a number of competitors’ four-speed gearboxes. The ix35 comes with impressive safety features as standard: six airbags, ABS brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution, traction & stability control, Downhill Brake Control and Hill Start Assist Control. October 2010 saw the introduction of rear park assist as standard across all grades.
Not so good : The two Petrol powered ix35’s offer only on-par fuel economy. The Turbo Diesel’s economy is towards the most frugal for a Compact SUV – BUT – it’s slightly surprising that the official combined fuel economy figure is the same as Hyundai’s larger & heavier seven-seat Diesel powered Santa Fe (we thought it would be lower?)