Hyundai ix35 SUV

Price range

$26,990 – $37,590

Overall

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…

Performance

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?)

Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

Price range

$36,990 – $49,990

Overall

Good: Affordable; Value-packed; Fuel-efficient; Awesome styling; Comfortable and care free driving.

Not so Good: Third row seats are reserved for kids (it’s pretty tight); Steering feel not as good as the competition.

Design and Engineering

Good : Arriving down under in September 2012 the Hyundai Santa Fe is set to make its competition quake in their boots.

Featuring Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design, the seven-seater Santa Fe falls into line with the rest of Hyundai’s model lineup.

Hyundai calls its latest design concept ‘Storm Edge’; apparently it captures the strong and dynamic images created by nature during the formation of a storm. All we know is it looks great.

From the front the Santa Fe strikes a bold and muscular appearance, the signature diamond shaped front grille is blinged out with chrome highlights and the strong crease lines that run down the bonnet complement the bold look.

Active models receive 17-inch alloy wheels, while Elite models get 18-inch alloy wheels and the top spec Highlander gets 19-inch alloy wheels as standard.

From the rear, the Santa Fe continues its bold design, the rear shoulder lines sits high and wide, while the roof slopes sharply and the rear window lip spoiler gives the rear a sporty design.

Not so good : We are really impressed with the new design and styling of the Santa Fe, so we’ll leave it up to you guys to decide.

Interior and Styling

Good : Inside, the Santa Fe looks great, the centre dash features sharply sculpted air vents and geometric shapes that intertwine with one another.

Most surfaces are finished in a soft-touch material while satin chrome details are matched back to either cloth or leather/leatherette seats depending on grade.

There is also a 4.3-inch touch screen audio system for Active models and a 7-inch touch screen premium audio system with satellite navigation for Elite & Highlander models. And, it gets even better with a rear view camera and rear park assist, automatic dusk-sensing headlamps and front & rear air-conditioning with third row air-conditioning vents all standard across the range.

Elite and Highlander models add a suite of features including; proximity key with push-button start, auto-dimming mirror with in-built compass, climate control air-conditioning, and solar control glass with a privacy tint.

There is also an abundance of room with seven seats that are easily adjustable and come standard across the range.

The second row seats are 40:20:40 split to offer exceptional convenience for loading and stowage, while the third row features 50:50 split full-folding seats.

The list of STANDARD features makes the Santa Fe quite a strong value-for-money proposition, and indeed, a class-leader in many categories.

Not so good : There are no complaints from us here; the Santa Fe is a solid package no matter what grade you choose.

Performance

Good : The Hyundai Santa Fe comes with the choice of two engines, petrol and diesel.

First up is a 2.4-litre GDi petrol engine (Active models only), producing 141kW of power and 242Nm of torque when matched to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic (optional). Next up, available across all grades, the 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine produces 145kW of power and 421 Nm (manual), 436 Nm (auto) of torque. Active models come standard with a six-speed manual, while Elite and Highlander models come with a six-speed automatic as standard.

The 2.2-litre CRDi diesel engine matched to the 6-speed automatic delivers power to the wheels in a smooth and linear manner. The diesel is also quite refined, with minimal engine vibration noticeable while sitting idle at the lights.

Not so good : On paper the 2.4-litre GDi petrol engine looks a little underpowered when compared to Ford’s V6 Territory and Toyota’s V6 Kluger.

Ride and Handling

Good : The Santa Fe features an active AWD system that automatically adapts to road conditions – depending on the situation the system engages rear wheel traction control for optimum full-time all-wheel-drive performance.

There is also a 4WD ‘Lock’ mode that is easily engaged at the push of a button (located on the console), and instantly splits power 50/50 front-to-rear. However, you can only travel to speeds up to 40 km/h before the system switches to ‘Auto’ mode.

Hyundai say they have done extensive suspension tuning over Australian roads, and it shows. The Santa Fe remains compliant over most road surfaces and soaks up any imperfections with ease.

Not so good : The Santa Fe is fitted with Hyundai’s Flex Steer system, apparently the systems allows drivers to adjust the feel and feedback. We found the level of feedback not as sharp as the competition.

Buying and Owning

Good : The list of standard features makes the Santa Fe great value-for-money. There’s also Hyundai’s 5 Year / unlimited kilometre Warranty, Capped Price Servicing and 12 months Roadside Assist.

Plus you have the peace of mind in knowing that the Santa Fe comes with a 5 Star ANCAP rating, featuring Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), Anti-skid Braking Systemn (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist System (BAS), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Downhill Brake Control (DBC) and seven airbags.

Not so good : Perhaps the only thing that will deter potential buyers is the 100kg maximum towball towing capacity, but if you don’t plan on towing a trailer then the Santa Fe is defiantly worth a look.

Hyundai Sonata Sedan

Price range

$27,990 – $36,990

Overall

Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA JUNE 2010. A conservative, smart design; great for leisurely highway cruising. A well priced and extremely fuel efficient turbo diesel option.

Not so Good: It’s no Medium Class leader and could be described as more of a ‘comfy slipper’ than a ‘trendy sneaker’ (but of course, everyone has different tastes and needs!). Replaced by the far superior i45 in May 2010.

Design and Engineering

Good : The elegant exterior design has elements of the more expensive VW and Audi European designs. It’s well built and small details like paint quality are impressive.

Not so good: The hint of VW or Audi design relates more to the start of the decade rather than 2010. Not exactly an incredibly exciting design. The chassis is starting to feel dated.

Interior and Styling

Good : Plenty of standard equipment and creature comforts (in both grades). There’s more than enough space for most modern families and the rear seats split-fold to create a large cargo carrying space. Plus there are nice little touches like a flock-lined glovebox.

Not so good : Some drivers may find it difficult to find a comfortable driving position and the ‘old school’ steering wheel isn’t great to hold. Like other parts of the Sonata, the interior feels a little dated; the interior plastics are quite hard and there’s a lack of second row storage compartments.

Performance

Good : Turbo Diesel has sufficient ‘get up & go’ whilst remaining very frugal at the bowser – and is relatively quiet on the move.

Not so good : The Sonata’s 4-speed automatic is behind competitors’ 5 and 6-speed auto transmissions.

Ride and Handling

Good : Relatively refined at highway speeds; the mid-year ’08 facelift brought along improved steering and suspension.

Not so good : Not great over rough Aussie roads – you’re better off taking it easy and enjoying the ride. The steering is still lacking in feel and feedback when pushed. The suspension is too soft for spirited driving compared to leading Medium Class competitors which are way more fun to drive.

Buying and Owning

Good : Design is standing up well to the test of time; standard safety equipment; excellent fuel economy (diesel grade); generous five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The Hyundai brand is continuing to improve its quality and reliability.

Not so good : Replaced by the i45 – a far superior car in so many ways to the Sonata.

Hyundai Tiburon Coupe

Price range

$34,990 – $39,380

Overall

Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA FEB 2010. A good value coupe with great ride & handling. Has few true competitors.

Not so Good: It’s fairly unremarkable. Poor fuel economy. It’s getting old now and we’d much rather Hyundai fast-tracked their tasty new rear-wheel drive coupe to Australia.

Design and Engineering

Good : It’s got a sporty design that looks good from most angles… This old design is holding up surprisingly well; however, it has had two facelifts since it was launched.

Not so good : More show than go. We don’t love the ugly door mirror design.

Interior and Styling

Good : Nice low seating position and funky round air vents (just like the first Audi TT).

Not so good : The ‘nice low seating position’ is a poor driving position. The plastic quality is nowhere near premium. The rear ¾ vision from the driver seat is terrible…plus the tiny rear seats are useless for adults. If you’re over 6 foot tall good luck getting comfortable…

Performance

Good : The 2.7L V6 engine produces a sweet note from the dual exhaust. There’s a 6-speed manual on offer with great clutch feel.

Not so good : The V6’s performance is unremarkable (only 123kW) yet you’ve still got to pay for 6-cylinder fuel economy. It’s slower than every 4-cyl Hot Hatch. The auto transmission is an old school 4-speed.

Ride and Handling

Good : The chassis handles nicely and the steering inspires confidence for the driver. Overall smooth ride and quite refined at high speeds.

Not so good : Brakes aren’t worthy of a sports car.

Buying and Owning

Good : Inexpensive pricing. Generous five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Not so good : It’s cheap, but you’ll spend what you save on filling the tank.

Hyundai Tucson SUV

Price range

$25,490 – $31,490

Overall

Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA APRIL 2010. Good value Compact SUV and, passive safety items are standard, not optional like a number of competitors…

Not so Good: Off the pace compared to the best Compact SUV’s regarding ride & handling. The V6 is pretty thirsty – where’s the Turbo Diesel option? Replaced by the ix35 in April 2010 – which is a significantly superior product.

Design and Engineering

Good : The Tucson is the right size for a Compact SUV – not too big, not too small; with ‘friendly’ styling for an SUV. Available in AWD & 2WD (which is all most drivers probably ever need).

Not so good : The vehicle’s platform is a generation behind the new ix35, and so is the styling.

Interior and Styling

Good : There’s good visibility in the Tucson – it’s comfortable up-front and the layout is basic and functional. The 2nd row seats fold flat, helping to provide generous cargo space – plus there’s plenty of storage options front and rear.

Not so good : The interior is…bland. The leather steering wheel lacks grip and the flat front seats are short on support.

Performance

Good : The V6 is smooth; however the 4-cylinder engine is a better compromise.

Not so good : V6 not powerful or quick enough and lacks torque. The outdated 4-speed auto transmission really needs a fifth gear.

Ride and Handling

Good : It is relatively quiet and refined on road, and handles okay for a Compact SUV.

Not so good : Not exactly fun to drive on or off-road – the handling lacks the refinement of Class-Leading Compact SUV’s… The V6’s handling is too nose-heavy.

Buying and Owning

Good : In 2009 it sold like hot cakes – so it must suit the Australian needs! Great pricing and the 4-cyl is smart buying. The standard active safety features are excellent for the price. Don’t forget the generous five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

Not so good : V6 drinks too much fuel. Getting on…this current generation has been on sale since 2004 – and has effectively been replaced by the Hyundai ix35.

Hyundai Veloster Sport Coupe

Price range

$23,990 – $33,990

overall

Good: Unique three-door design; Colour accented alloy wheels; Dual centre exhaust system; Turbocharged excitement.

Not so Good: Underpowered 1.6-litre petrol engine; Cornering and handling performance (non turbo).

Design and Engineering

Good : The Hyundai Veloster made its way to Australian shores in February 2012. Throwing all conventional design theories out the window. The new Veloster features a coupe like design with three doors instead of the normal two door design found in most sports coupes today.

The unique design features a single door on the driver’s side and two doors on the passenger side. The forward-hinged third door on the passenger side offers safe access for passengers.

In August 2012 the Veloster line-up got a little more exciting with the arrival of the Veloster SR Turbo.

Like many of Hyundai’s latest vehicles the Veloster adopts elements of Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Design’. From the front the Veloster features Hyundai’s trade mark curved daytime running lights and hexagon shaped opening that makes up the bottom air vent and grille.

From the side the Veloster features black A-pillars and B-pillars creating a visor shape that wraps around the vehicle. The profile of the vehicle is sleek as the roof slopes from the front down to the rear of the car. There‘s also two bold crease lines that stand out from the side of the car adding to the overall unique design.

Also, not to forget the rear passenger door is somewhat concealed as the door handle is tucked away next to the c-pillar and rear passenger window, this gives the illusion that there isn’t actually a door there – pretty cool huh?

From the rear the Veloster features a wide stance that is emphasised by the flared wheel arches while the centred twin exhaust system gives the car a sporty look.

Meanwhile, the Veloster SR Turbo features the same funky three door design, however, Hyundai have not only hotted the engine up but also given the Veloster a very aggressive and sporty exterior treatment.

At the rear the SR Turbo features a massive rear lip spoiler, aggressive rear bumper and a pair of massive exhaust tips.

Not so good : We admire that Hyundai have taken some risks in designing something that goes against traditional design theories and it pays off. The Veloster looks fantastic, but does form outweigh function? For some people yes, but for the others who will be prepared to climb over the middle cup holders to get to the rear passenger seat behind the driver?

Interior and Styling

Good : Inside the Veloster features a very futuristic design. The centre dash features a 7-inch colour touch screen display that supports Divx, MP3, CD player and AM/FM radio, there is also AUX/USB audio input and Bluetooth connectivity for both handsfree phone operation and audio streaming. The sport bucket seats up front are very comfortable, the driver’s seat can be adjusted for slide, tilt and height with manual recline, plus electric lumbar support – so there shouldn’t be any trouble getting comfortable. The interior colour scheme is quite dull in comparison to the vibrant exterior colours on offer. Black, grey and silver are the main colours found throughout the interior. There are silver/metallic highlights on the doors, centre dash, steering wheel and around the air vents. Inside the SR Turbo features leather accented seats that have a ‘turbo’ motif that is stitched into both driver and passenger seats while the rest of the interior remains mostly unchanged.

Not so good : Interior styling is quite busy; there’s a range of highlight touches that seem to divert your eyes around the cabin. Larger occupants will feel rather claustrophobic.

Not enough differentiation between standard and SR Turbo models.

Performance

Good : The Hyundai Veloster is powered by a 1.6-litre in-line four cylinder petrol engine producing 103kW of power and 166Nm of torque when matched to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed double clutch automatic transmission.

And, for the thrill seekers, the SR Turbo features a 1.6-litre direct-injected twin-scroll turbocharged petrol engine producing 150kW of power and 265Nm of torque when matched to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Over the course of a week we found the 6-speed double clutch automatic transmission was the better match for the 1.6-litre petrol engine. Acceleration is smooth and the double clutch automatic allows for quickly gear changes without jerking the car like some DSG applications. The steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters enable the driver to changes for a more engaged driving experience.

The same can be said for the SR Turbo,the 6-speed automatic (not dual clutch) felt like the better match for the turbo engine. While the manual transmission feels light and allows for quick gear changes it doesn’t feel as connected to the engine like the 6-speed auto box does.

Not so good : The 1.6-litre petrol feels like it could do with a few extra kW’s under its belt, lucky buyers have the option of the SR Turbo.

Ride and Handling

Good : The suspension set up in the Veloster feels like it is tuned more for comfort than cornering and handling performance. Over rough and pot marked roads the Veloster handles our unique road surface quite well considering it rides on massive 18-inch alloys.

However, when you start to push the car through corners at pace we noticed that the Veloster has a tendency to understeer.

The Veloster SR Turbo definitely feels sharper in the handling department while still maintaining a comfortable ride.

Not so good : Inner city driving was ok given that there are a few blind spots in the Veloster thanks to the steep roofline, however parking is made easy by the reverse camera and rear park assist.

Buying and Owning

Good : Move over Mini, move over Renault, because there is a new player that wants the title for the most unique and quirky design.

The three-door design is definitely a plus for the Veloster and the bold range of exterior colours also adds to the appeal.

The Hyundai Veloster has some serious on road presence and the with the arrival of the SR Turbo, the performance to go with it.

Not so good : We like the idea of the three-door design and the Veloster is a great car for singles or young couples but not so much for family’s as climbing across the rear seat may become tiresome.

However, if your energetic and slightly athletic the single rear door shouldn’t be a problem.

Hyundai Accent Hatchback

Price range

$16,990 – $22,990

Overall

Good: The Hyundai Accent is a stylish hatch both inside and out. Five-star safety rating.

Not so Good: Steering feel; In-cabin road noise; Manual gearbox.

Design and Engineering

Good : Arriving in Australia August 2011 the Hyundai Accent offers customers a modern and stylish design that looks at home in the ever expanding Hyundai model line-up. The new Accent features Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design that gives the exterior a European ‘look’.

The Hyundai Accent’s sculptured lines are emphasised by Hyundai’s signature hexagonal front grille, swept-back headlights and bonnet lines.

Not so good : The Hyundai Accent shares its platform with the i20, Kia Rio and Kia Soul. But unlike the aforementioned, the Accent doesn’t seem to share the same on road dynamics.

Interior and Styling

Good : The Hyundai Accent features a stylish and modern interior that offers plenty of space and comfort for driver and passengers alike. The rear seat is also very generous for a sleekly designed car.

The base model Accent Active features a four-speaker CD sound system while the Elite (mid spec) and Premium (top spec) feature a six-speaker CD sound system that is integrated into the symmetric ‘Y-shaped’ dash. Both systems have Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and Aux ports for portable music players and iPod/iPhone connectivity.

Other standard equipment includes steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows (auto up/down on the driver’s door), power mirrors, air conditioning and trip computer. The mid spec Accent Elite and top spec Accent Premium get piano black interior highlights, upgraded steering wheel and a premium gear knob.

Meanwhile the top spec Accent Premium adds a reversing camera that displays rearward obstacles in the rear view mirror, rear parking sensors, push-button start/stop with proximity key and leatherette seats and door trim.

Not so good : The interior plastics and trim materials are less than desirable but don’t look too bad.

There is no option for cruise control or sat nav and there is no telescopic reach adjustment on the steering wheel.

In-cabin noise and road roar aren’t the best especially during highway driving.

Performance

Good : The Hyundai Accent is powered by a 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol engine that produces 91kW of power and 156Nm of torque. Sending power to the front wheels is a 5-speed manual transmission or the optional four-speed automatic with sequential manual mode.

The four speed automatic with sequential manual mode seemed a better match for the 1.6-litre and changed gears fairly smoothly.

The Hyundai Accent performs well around town and is quite comfortable during the daily commute.

Not so good : We found the manual gearbox a little notchy when changing gears, but the clutch was well weighted.

The 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol engine was up to the task but sounds very noisy when pushed hard and highway driving would be better if there was a sixth gear for the manual transmission.

Ride and Handling

Good : The Hyundai Accent benefits from the smaller 14-inch steel wheels, the suspension feels more compliant over harsher country roads. The steering is light which suits urban driving and the 10.4 meter turning circle is good enough for city maneuverability.

Not so good : The 16-inch alloy wheels look great but give the Accent a less comfortable ride. The electronic steering lacks driver feel and feedback which is a shame because the suspension seems quite good.

Buying and Owning

Good : 5-Star ANCAP safety, impressive list of standard features, a 1.6-litre petrol engine that gets the job done and sleek European styling at an affordable – what’s not to like?

The Hyundai Accent is up against a lot of competition, but it is worth a look. The Accent Elite at $18,490 is a bargain when you consider the standard features and the 5-star ANCAP rating.

Not so good : At this point there is no option for Sat nav or cruise control and the lack of telescopic reach adjustment just seems odd.

Hyundai Elantra Sedan

Price range

$20,590 – $28,990

Overall

Good: Modern exterior design; Impressive standard features list; Roomy interior.

Not so Good: Course engine note; Light steering feel; Noise insulation; Lack of diesel option.

Design and Engineering

Good : Formerly named the Hyundai Lantra first arrived on our shores in 1990 before changing its name to the Elantra due to a name similarity of the Mitsubishi Magna Elante.

Now in its fifth generation the current Hyundai Elantra sedan arrived on our shores in June 2011. Featuring sleek, contemporary exterior styling, a long list of safety features and larger than usual cabin space for a small sedan.

The new Hyundai Elantra is easily identified by its ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design that it shares with its i45 sedan and i40 wagon siblings. The design is said to create the illusion of constant motion through the use of flowing lines; sounds like a heap of mumbo jumbo to us, but what we do know is that we love the design and that Hyundai is moving in the right direction with the styling of its vehicles.

Not so good : Some people might find the design of the Hyundai Elantra sedan a little too contemporary and that’s why these buyers would choose the more subtle design of the Elantras competitors. However, did we mention we love the design?

Interior and Styling

Good : Stepping inside of the Hyundai Elantra you are greeted with a flowing, futuristic dash that flows on down the centre console. The mostly black themed interior features chrome ‘look’ and piano-black highlights that give the interior a high-tech premium feel.

The instrument cluster features a slightly angled design (looks like alien eyes peering back at you), nestled in between the rev meter and speedo is an LCD screen that displays the usual trip, fuel levels, temperature, kilometre before empty etc.

Dash instruments are illuminated with an ice blue hue that is easy to read day or night.

All models include cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and MP3 audio – with steering wheel mounted controls as standard, while higher grades offer dual-zone air-conditioning, rear park sensors, rain-sensing wipers, push-button start with proximity key, front seat heating and a sunroof.

Not so good : While the interior looks great we found the quality of materials used weren’t as good as what some of its competitors offer. Overall not too bad.

Performance

Good : Powering all three grades is a 1.8-litre direct injection four-cylinder petrol engine producing 110kW of power and 178Nm of torque.

The entry level Active comes with a six-speed manual with the option if a six-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile the mid-spec Elite and top-spec Premium Only come with a six-speed automatic.

The 1.8-litre engine has enough power and torque to move the 1277kg to 1289kg (depending on grade) around in relative comfort. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts well and is a smooth unit; you can also put the shifter into manual mode and select gears yourself.

Not so good : To say that the Elantra is sporty is a stretch, the 1.8-litre sounds very course when the revs start to rise. But, under normal driving conditions the Elantra does the job.

Ride and Handling

Good : Featuring MacPherson struts and coil springs up front and a coupled torsion beam at the rear – Hyundai say that they have done extensive on-road testing to suit unique Australian roads and it shows. The Elantra does well over most road surfaces but can become unsettled when pushed through some fast corners. Overall the suspension is comfortable and best suits city roads.

All models include electronic stability, traction control (known as Vehicle Stability Management, or VSM) and four-channel ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution.

Not so good : We found the electric power-steering set-up way too light, offering the driver little to no feedback even at speed.

Buying and Owning

Good : The fifth generation Hyundai Elantra sedan offers up a great package with an impressive list of features that come as standard. The contemporary exterior styling and futuristic interior also add to the Elantras appeal.

It will definitely draw buyers away from the Ford Focus and the Mazda3 especially for those buyers that what a little bit of extra room inside.

Not so good : The Hyundai Elantra does have a few minor refinement issues in terms of steering feel and interior materials, but if you look at the equipment levels and price all is forgiven.

Hyundai Getz Hatchback

Price range

$13,990 – $18,340

Overall

Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA DEC 2011. Excellent value for money, clean exterior design and a great engine for the price (1.6L) – a huge improvement over previous entry level Hyundai’s.

Not so Good: The Hyundai Getz is far from class-leading (however, superior competitors cost more); ride and handling suffer as a result of inexpensive tyres and an underdeveloped chassis and suspension.

Design and Engineering

Good : The Hyundai Getz was the first Hyundai to feature European styling and at launch it was by far the best ever Hyundai design.

Not so good : The Getz’s Australian launch was way back in August 2002 so no surprise its looks are starting to date against newer competitors. The mid life facelift arrived here in October 2005.

Interior and Styling

Good : Good visibility and a low dashboard provides an open, ‘airy’ feeling for the driver and front passenger. The 3 and 5 doors both have a decent sized boot.

Not so good : Unsupportive seats; cheap aftermarket-looking audio system; rear seat room is smaller than competitors; the floor covering in the Getz is so thin it should not be called carpet.

Performance

Good : The engine is responsive and smooth, the 1.6L engine has a lively heartbeat.

Not so good : Like most SUPERMINI’s the Automatic transmission is not as good as the Manual.

Ride and Handling

Good : Whilst the ride and handling in the Getz is not class-leading it is better than a number of larger, more expensive vehicles.

Not so good : This is where the Hyundai Getz is off the pace; the steering is vague with a strong tendency to understeer; suspension lets the team down with too much bounce; cheapskate tyres.

Buying and Owning

Good : Low entry level pricing on the Getz is very appealing in this price sensitive segment; generous five year unlimited kilometer warranty is a big advantage. The Hyundai Getz has proved to be a very reliable vehicle.

Not so good : Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is off the pace compared to class leaders; resale is nothing to brag about.

Hyundai Grandeur Sedan

Price range

$39,990 – $41,990

Overall

Good: NOTE: DISCONTINUED IN AUSTRALIA DEC 2010 Impressive 3.8L V6 petrol engine and a powerful yet economical turbo diesel; much improved over the previous model (as is every new Hyundai these days).

Not so Good: Falls short of it’s lofty name; improved yes – but previous model was nothing special. Far from being the Large Class leader.

Design and Engineering

Good : The mid-life facelift arrived here in June 2010 with updated styling front and rear. As with the pre-facelift Grandeur the still non-offensive design won’t ruffle any feathers in the car park…

Not so good : The overall shape was launched Down Under back in mid 2006 and is getting on in car years. We wouldn’t argue with you if you thought the styling is bland – its styling is more American than European (but of course, design appeal is subjective).

Interior and Styling

Good : Only one grade available (but two engines on offer) means it’s loaded full of standard safety and equipment such as eight airbags and dual-zone air-conditioning PLUS there’s plenty of back seat room and a large 523 litre boot. From mid 2010 the Grandeur’s cabin now has a metal finish on the centre console, an improvement over the pre-facelift model.

Not so good : It’s difficult to find that perfect driving position; front seats lacking support. The blue backlight in the centre console doesn’t match the white backlight in the drivers console and is far too bright at night.

Performance

Good : Smooth 3.8L Petrol V6. Plus, there’s sufficient torque coming from Australia’s least-expensive Large segment Turbo Diesel.

Not so good : 5-speed auto could be better tuned to Turbo Diesel engine. The V6 Petrol’s fuel economy is nothing to write home about…

Ride and Handling

Good : The Grandeur sedan has a very comfortable ride when the pace is relaxed.

Not so good : When it’s pushed a bit, it falls well behind its more dynamic competitors, with a strong tendency to understeer into corners. Also, the steering feels too light and offers no feedback, thus could do with greater accuracy.

Buying and Owning

Good : The Grandeur has improved its value and changed its price…plus its five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. It has great fuel economy for a Large sedan (Turbo Diesel). Hyundai is a brand on the up, and is going places.

Not so good : Unlikely to hold its value as well as competitors. Plus, new car sales are now in tiny numbers so demand is low.

Hyundai i20 Hatchback

Price range

$15,590 – $19,590

Overall

Good: Spacious and comfortable interior; Frugal engines; Good handling and ride balance; 6 airbags across all grades; Another step forward for Hyundai.

Not so Good: Slightly plain-Jane styling (compared to the brands more ‘wow’ shaped i45 and ix35 models); Engine’s get a little noisy at high revs; Does nothing amazingly well (but does nothing majorly wrong either).

Design and Engineering

Good : Arriving in Australia in July 2010, Hyundai’s i20 is a stylish, yet slightly conservative Supermini that is longer and wider than the brands soon to be gone Getz predecessor.

Design details are more prominent this time around; we’re fans of the rakish side profile and the flowing character line that run the length of the doors and the stylish front fog light housing on either side of the sporty front air dam.

Designed in Europe (by a former BMW designer), built in India and available in both three and five door hatch bodystyles, the underneath of the i20 is typical contemporary Supermini. Build quality is also on the money.

Not so good : Compared to the competing Ford Fiesta and also the Mazda 2, the i20’s overall shape and stance is more plain-Jane, lacking the visual ‘wow’ of funkier rivals. As a result the Hyundai doesn’t stand out as much on the road (however this is not necessarily a negative point).

Whilst the Hyundai ix35 and i45 feature the brands super modern ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ styling (which we’re big fans of), unfortunately the i20 preceded this design movement. Close up and definitely when compared to the less premium Getz, the i20 must still be viewed as a design step forward though.

Interior and Styling

Good : The interior is well designed, has stylish elements (we particularly like the elegantly sloping line running across the top of the dash) and the driver’s and the centre console controls are functional and clearly laid out.

The driving position is good – thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts for both rake (up and down) and reach (in and out) and a driver’s seat with height adjustment; the glovebox is spacious, illuminated and also cooled (as it’s linked to the air-conditioning system) and all i20’s thankfully come standard with an iPod connector.

For a Supermini player, the Hyundai i20 is spacious inside with enough room for four six-foot adults to sit in relative comfort (as with all Supermini’s the rear centre seat is best kept for children and teens). Headroom all round is impressive, as is knee and foot space.

The boot holds a decent 295-litres of luggage and is nice and wide. As usual the rear seats can be split folded (in a 60/40 format) for carrying larger loads.

Build quality inside is impressive and another step forward for Hyundai and the materials used feel sturdy and hard wearing.

Not so good : As with the exterior, the overall feel of the interior is less funky than a couple of competitors (however, it’s by no means boring). Most of the plastics are of the hard and non premium variety and the grab handles lack damping (however even the competing Volkswagen Polo, a semi-premium player, has to make do with some hard interior plastics inside).

The interior lacks the cleverness of the Honda Jazz (so the rear seats don’t feature a one-touch fold function and the rear bench seat back is slightly higher than the boot floor when folded down.

Performance

Good : Two four-cylinder petrol engines on offer. The entry level ‘Active’ grade (available in a three and five door bodystyle) comes with a 1.4-litre with 73kW of power and 136Nm of torque. The mid level ‘Elite’ and the top spec ‘Premium’ grades (both only available as a five door) come with a 1.6-litre, with an impressive 91kW of power and 156Nm of torque.

The 1.4-litre engine feels adequately powered and has no problem keeping up with traffic. However the pick of the two engines is the 1.6L – it’s one of the more powerful offerings in the Supermini segment (discounting hot hatches of course). We like the amount of ‘oomph’ from low in the rev range, which equates to the Elite and Premium grades feeling more responsive and less likely to need to change down through the gears when overtaking.

Fuel economy is impressive (against competing petrol powered competitors). The 1.4L with the five speed manual averages 6.0L, the four speed automatic 6.4 litres, the 1.6-litre manual averages a barely more 6.1 litres and with the auto 6.5 litres (all official combined figures).

Not so good : Both engines feel like they lack a little in refinement against the segment best, becoming noisy and a little coarse at high revs (in isolation they are both o.k.). Hyundai also offer the i20 with a frugal 1.4-litre turbo diesel overseas – but unfortunately it is unlikely to go on sale Down Under any time soon.

Ride and Handling

Good : Overall the Hyundai i20 strikes a good balance between ride and handling. The setup feels more focused on ride comfort over sports car-like handling (the right direction considering the vehicles intended use), however it stays relatively composed when pushing-on through corners, and body roll is less than the brands previous Supermini (the Getz). Whilst Australian model i20’s feature locally tuned and honed suspension, most of the car’s chassis development was done at the company’s European office (in Germany, and that’s a good thing).

At the same time the i20 is easy to drive at slower urban speeds, with light yet responsive electric steering, a baulk free gearbox and decent pedal weightings.

Not so good : The handling can’t match that of the class leading Ford Fiesta and isn’t as fun to scoot along in either. Over typical Australian secondary road surfaces (i.e. rough, broken-up bitumen) the i20 looses’ a little composure – with the rear suspension struggling to keep things quiet and refined. Overall though the ride and handling is better than the class average.

Buying and Owning

Good : As a whole model range the i20 offers decent value for money (very good at the lower price end and o.k. at the higher end) and overall is a step forward for the brand in the Supermini segment.

The October 2010 upgrade sees Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity as standard across all grades, while the dashboard illumination has changed from orange to blue.

The entry level Active grade comes standard with air-conditioning, power windows and an external temperature display. It also ticks the safety box with standard Electronic Stability Control as well as Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Brake Distribution and Traction Control.

The mid level Elite grade adds a leather finished gear knob and steering wheel (also with audio controls), six instead of four speakers, a trip computer, a luggage net in the rear cargo zone and alloy instead of steel wheels (as well as the larger engine).

The Premium grade adds partially leather trimmed seats and a leather covered driver’s armrest, climate control air-conditioning, individual driver and front passenger map lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels (other grades feature 15-inch wheels). All grades come standard with a full sized spare wheel rather than a temporary space saver.

From October 2010 all grades come standard with six airbags – driver and front passenger front, front side and curtain airbags.

Not so good : Cruise control is not offered (however not many Supermini players do). The standard red piping on the leather trimmed Premium grade is a little garish (however we admit this is purely subjective).

Hyundai i30 Hatchback

Price range

$20,990 – $32,590

Overall

Good: Stylish exterior; 1.6-litre diesel engine; Impressive list of standard features; Seven airbags across the entire range.

Not so Good: Lack of wagon bodystyle; Gimmicky Flex Steer technology; Space saver on base model.

Design and Engineering

Good : The second generation Hyundai i30 hit Australian shores in May 2012. The new Hyundai i30 features a more refined and stylish European exterior design. The Koreans like to call it ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ styling which comes from their German design house in Rüsselsheim. All we know is it looks bloody fantastic!

From the front the i30 has a large hexagon shaped opening that makes up the front grille and lower air vent. The front headlights are raked sharply; starting from the front bumper they make their way up across the side of the vehicle and end on the front quarter panel, this gives the i30 a more aerodynamic look. The bonnet also looks aerodynamic with two fold lines that start from the bottom of the A-pillars and make their way down to the front grille.

From the side the i30 has a crease line that rounds the front wheel arch and makes its way down the side of the car and into the rear tail lights. The crease line gives the car a feeling of forward motion whilst standing still.

Depending on grade – Active, Elite and Premium the new i30 comes fitted with 16-inch steels for the Active, 16-inch alloys for the Elite and the fantastic looking 17-inch alloys for the Premium.

Making our way to the rear of the vehicle, the i30 features an angular rear bumper and boot. The shoulder line continues around the rear of the car and right across the boot forming a belt. The rear bumper features a smiley shaped face that houses the number plate.

Overall the exterior styling of the new i30 is quite a step up from the previous generation.

Not so good : Hyundai designers have been clever in that they have hidden their reverse camera behind the Hyundai badge (Elite and Premium). However, some people may mistake the flip down badge as a boot release or boot handle.

Interior and Styling

Good : Stepping in side you’re greeted with a modern interior. You instantly notice the level of upmarket materials that look good and feel great.

Sitting in the centre of the dash is a 5-inch touch screen audio system that features ‘media ripping’ and storage capabilities plus album art display for Active models. Meanwhile, Elite and Premium models get a 7-inch touch screen with satellite navigation and SUNA live traffic updates.

There is also a whole host of storage compartments and cup holders throughout the cabin to keep passengers happy.

The Hyundai i30 has grown in size since the previous generation; the overall length and width of the vehicle have increased to benefit cabin and cargo space.

Boot capacity has been increased by up to 38-litres for a total of 378-litre, while the glove box has grown by 2.2-litres to 8-litres.

The comfortable seats are covered in quality fabrics for Active and Elite models while the Premium gets leather/ leatherette seats. Premium models also get power adjustable seats with electric lumbar support.

The multifunction steering wheel can be adjusted for both rake (up & down) and reach (in & out) so drivers shouldn’t have any trouble finding a comfortable driving position.

Not so good : Hyundai haven’t done anything wrong in terms of the interior fit and finish or choice of materials used. But, in saying that there isn’t anything here that has a true ‘WOW’ factor.

Performance

Good : The Hyundai i30 range comes with the choice of two engines, petrol and diesel.

To kick things off the 1.8-litre in-line four cylinder petrol engine produces 110kW of power and 178Nm of torque.

Next up is the 1.6-litre in-line four cylinder turbo diesel that produces 94kW of power and 260Nm of torque.

Both engines come fitted with a 6-speed manual as standard while the 6-speed automatic is an option.

The turbo diesel auto is definitely our pick of the two power plants, offering up plenty of torque to tackle countryside hills and highway overtaking.

Not so good : The 1.8-litre petrol engine feels a little bit underpowered especially when you start to load the car up with passengers and have the air conditioner on.

Ride and Handling

Good : The engineers over at Hyundai tell us that the new i30 has undergone extensive local testing to ensure that the i30 delivers optimum performance for Australia’s unique road surfaces. And they didn’t lie; the i30 performs great over potted and broken roads with the suspension absorbing almost anything thrown its way.

The newest addition to the i30 range is ‘Flex Steer’ this new feature offers three driver-selected steering calibrations.

‘Normal’ mode provides a balance between steering effort and driver feedback. The ‘Comfort’ setting further reduces the weight of the steering and allows for effortless manoeuvring, making it ideal for drivers who prefer a more relaxed driving experience. Finally, the ‘Sport’ setting increases steering weight and driver feedback for maximum driver involvement.

Not so good:  Flex Steer is a good inclusion however it does come across as a little gimmicky. Instead of offering it as a driver-selected option why not just make the steering sharpen or relax automatically depending on what speed you are travelling. Other than that small criticism the new i30’s ride and handling is right on the money.

Buying and Owning

Good : Hyundai’s i30 is a great overall package no matter what grade you choose. All models come equipped as standard with seven airbags, Bluetooth handsfree with audio streaming, cruise control, keyless entry and fog lamps.

Not so good : There is no denying that the i30 is a great package, but Hyundai have some pretty stiff competition in the way of Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf.