Yes we like: looks, classy interior, features, great ride/handling

Not so much: no CarPlay, jerky DCT at low speed,

Hyundai packed their i40 chockers full of features with a simple drivetrain and trim level choice. You get a wagon (tourer) with 6 speed auto ”variable induction” petrol, or sedan/wagon 7 speed DCT(dual clutch transmission) turbo diesel all in either an Active or Premium trim level.

We tested the rather sexy looking Premium diesel tourer. Can you believe how great it looks?

i40-Series-II-tourer (7)The exterior looks and feels expensive. The LED lighting and classic Euro lines highlight a look which should appeal to a wide range of tastes. No longer will you have to say “I drive a Hyundai, but…” at dinner parties.

You get a full size spare on both the 16” Active, and 17” Premium wheels. This is getting rarer and although space saver spare wheels give the cargo area more useable space, it’s nice to be able to change a tyre without any speed restrictions. Many car makers use the dreaded “repair kits”, which are meant to give you the security of a spare wheel but only take the space of a spray can. Quite simply, they don’t work. On a cold wet night, or a stinking hot summer’s day, the last thing you want to do is spend hours waiting for a man in a van to get you out of strife. In fact, on more than one occasion my cars have been ignominiously tray-backed to a servo. It ruins your experience completely.

There is only a few tiny differences between the trim levels so even the base model looks classy. The wagon has graceful lines with a full-length glass sun roof and very wide rear doors, which don’t give quite the rear access you might expect. The sunroof has an interior shade that does a great job of keeping the heat and light out. It deploys quickly by pushing a button.

The rear hatch is fully automatic, and requires a key to be sensed, after which a series of beeps herald the raising of the door so that you don’t have to put you shopping bags on the ground. I’ve experienced “gesture control” doors before with limited success but this method seems fool proof. There is sufficient time to move away from the car if you don’t want the door to open. The cargo area is generous with 506L seats up, or a massive 1,672L with the rear seats down. The button on the lower edge of the door will close and relock it.

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The interior has a lot of lines, swoops, surfaces and materials going on. It looks graceful, and classy. There are bins and cubby holes for your stuff, and cup and bottle holders galore. The instruments are easy to read, and controls easy to use. The centre stack houses just enough buttons and knobs to give quick access to often used features like air temp and audio, but keeps the rest within the infotainment system out of the way. It makes for a very neat and well-designed look. The climate controls have the temperature on the outer-most edges of the array where both driver and passenger can reach them without mush effort. The ergonomics are excellent.

The heated front seats feel firm but comfortable and have power adjustment. The steering wheel moves to give a very good driving position. It is loaded with the obligatory auxiliary controls

i40-Series-II-tourer (4)The audio system has standard SatNav but neither model has Apple CarPlay. Remember, although you get 3 years standard map updates, phone maps are updated  every month for life. Fear not, a little bird told me it will soon be available brand-wide. Smart phone integration must become standard and reduces the temptation to text while driving. It allows voice control of Siri including the reading and reply of messages. Texting is a major cause of driver distraction.

Despite the lack of CarPlay, the unit is easy to use and fast to respond. The controls are split between knobs/buttons, and touch screen input, but I’d like physical buttons for direct radio station selection. You can scroll between station on the steering wheel so storing your favourite channels next to each other in the menu makes selection slightly better. There is no DAB.

The 1.7L turbo diesel has common rail injection and although only 104kw, feels incredibly flexible with enough nip for city traffic. A respectable 340Nm of torque gives you the oomph you need at lights while returning 4.7L/100k on the highway. Hyundai claims 5.9 around town and 5.1 combined, but our figures were higher at about 9.6L/100k around town. The difference is significant and needs a much longer test to confirm.

As with most double clutch autos, driving very slow can be a bit jerky as the clutches grab and release, but at all other times are smooth with very quick changes.

The ride is excellent even on the larger 17” wheels. The suspension feels sophisticated and allows more than a little spirited driving even with a full load on board. The Macpherson strut front, and muli-link rear both have Amplitude Adjustable Dampers (ASD). There is absolutely no sacrifice of ride for handling.

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The electric power steering is far too light for my taste but you quickly get used to it. Wherever you point, that is where you go. Only under extreme circumstances do you notice understeer. When you do, the electronic nannies sort you out to keep you on track. There is a good sense of “safety”. By that I mean i40 makes you feel like you’re a better driver than you are. Bumps mid corner leave the i40 unfazed.

Our test drive was mainly in town with brief stints at freeway speeds. Handling feels competent even in the wet. 215/50R17 tyres grip well, and on more than one occasion coped with still water laying over the road without aquaplaning. Unintended events can upset drivers and cause accidents so the better a car handles those incidents, the fewer accidents. It engenders a feeling of safety and security in the driver and is something we almost always associate very expensive luxury cars.

There is a lot of choice at a $49,497.62 price point. You can get a sportier ride in a Subaru BRZ, and a roomier ride in a Commodore SV6 wagon with double the power, and both are cheaper. In fact, Commodore sales are down 32% last month from February 2016. The figures speak for themselves.

Large cars are a dying breed. Commodore ceases production soon, and Falcon is already just a memory. They are lamented by those who love them, but not by many others. Buyers have been moving either to smaller cars, or to SUVs. Even large SUVs are doing well, and SUV sales now outnumber passenger cars as of February 2017. Last month, 6 of the top 10 best-selling cars with either SUVs, or LCV like HiLux and Ranger. The best-selling car was Corolla the Hyundai’s i30 at number 5.

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Here are a few more facts you may find interesting:


Here are the brand ratings:

Standings Marque                        Volume              Share

1            Toyota                         28,862                16.6%

2            Mazda                         19,990                11.5%

3            Hyundai                      13,706                7.9%

4            Holden                        12,908                7.4%

5            Ford                             11,581                6.7%

6            Mitsubishi                   10,833                6.2%

7            Nissan                         9,437                  5.4%

8            Volkswagen                8,613                  5.0%

9            Kia                               8,189                  4.7%

10         Subaru                         7,755                  4.5%


Here are the Vehicle sales

Rank     Vehicle               Feb-17               Feb16                 % diff

1. Toyota Corolla            3392                   3455                   -1.8%

2. Toyota Hi-Lux              3386                   3261                   +3.8%

3. Mazda3                       3143                   3354                   -6.3%

4. Ford Ranger                2931                   2655                   +10.4%

5. Hyundai i30                 2003                   2461                   -18.6%

6. Mitsubishi Triton        1990                   2165                   +8.1%

7. Mazda CX-5                 1933                   2156                   -10.3%

8. Toyota RAV4               1726                   1514                   +14.0%

9. Hyundai Tucson          1596                   1849                   -13.7%

10. Holden Commodore 1566                  2331                   -32.8%


Ride and handling are great. Fit and finish are also excellent. In fact, the European design studio led by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer has taken the Korean car maker to a carefully curated place. Slowly but surely buyers are seeing Korea as a real alternative, and not just for the cheap and cheerful entry level purchases.

The safety is second to none with enviable equipment levels like blind spot and lane departure monitoring. You also get smart entry, push button start, and semi-automated parking to make life easier.

One last thing, and I can’t say this about many cars, I like the i40. Hyundai’s fleet is a quality one and once buyers test drive they see that too. The problem has been overcoming decades of “buy us because we are cheap”.

Would I buy one? Yes. It is excellent value