2012 HYUNDAI I40 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium wagon
Price: $36,490 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 5.6 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 7.0 l/100km
Is it really necessary to buy a small SUV the instant you start having children?
In the not-so-distant past, wagons were the car-of-choice for growing families, but fashion trends and the advantages of a taller ride height have seen SUVs killing wagon sales.
Enter the i40 Tourer. It may be a midsizer, but it's got interior space that's more than capable of swallowing a young family, plus all their stuff. Not only that, it drives better than most SUVs and looks gorgeous to boot.
In base Active trim, it's far from perfect though. In our opinion it's worth springing a little extra for the upscale Elite or Premium models.
Quality: The dash plastics may not be quite up to the standard of the i40’s European-sourced competitors, but it’s nicely furnished with generally good fit and finish.
A leather-wrapped steering wheel and a clean, stylish dashboard layout also help lift the cabin ambience, but there are some flimsy touches (shift paddles, door handles) and the piano-black console plastics appear scratch-prone.
Comfort: The i40 Active’s cloth-upholstered front seats have a wide range of adjustability.
They could do with some more cushioning in the squab but are reasonably supportive and, combined with the reach/rake adjustable steering wheel, it is easy to get set into a comfortable driving position.
The back seats are very roomy, with plenty of legroom, knee room and shoulder room. Face-level air vents on the back of the centre console are also a big plus, and minimal centre tunnel intrusion means the centre seat is usable.
The rear seat cushioning is a bit firm, but with the backrest adjustable for recline you should hear no complaints from backseaters during long journeys.
Equipment: Standard features on the i40 Active include 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lamps, auto-on headlamps, an electronic parking brake, cruise control, a trip computer, auto up/down windows on all doors, powered and heated wing mirrors, Bluetooth and air conditioning.
Storage: With the back seats up, there's a very useful total of 553 litres of storage space.
The rear seat backrests fold flush with the boot floor - but not entirely flat - to create a 1719 litre load area, and a couple of smaller storage pockets to either side help secure loose items.
Annoyingly though, the i40 Active doesn't come with a retractable cargo blind, nor is there provision for one. The child seat tether anchorages also cut into luggage room, thanks to their position on the boot floor.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The i40’s 1.7 litre turbodiesel inline four produces 100kW and 320Nm. It’s a stout unit that has plenty of torque to get the i40’s 1514kg body moving.
There’s the usual amount of turbodiesel throttle lag, but the CRDi engine develops maximum torque between 2000 and 2500rpm so off-the-line performance is brisk.
It’s mated to a six-speed manual as standard, but our tester was equipped with the optional six-speed automatic.
The automatic shifts smoothly and is geared to take full advantage of the engine’s low-end torque (it doesn’t enjoy being revved hard). A pair of shift paddles allow the driver to take manual control of gear selection.
It can be a bit slow to kick down for overtaking, but otherwise the auto is preferable to the taller-geared manual.
Refinement: There’s no mistaking that this is a diesel, thanks to a noticeable amount of diesel clatter that penetrates the cabin at idle. It sounds smoother at a light cruise, but even modest amounts of throttle induce a rattly engine note.
Otherwise, the i40 has decent sound suppression, with little wind noise or tyre roar, and none of the cabin boominess typically associated with wagons.
Suspension: Hyundai has made a point of tuning the suspension of many of its cars specifically for Australian conditions, with mixed results. Cars like the ix35 and Accent are too firm to be comfortable, while the i45 feels too loose.
The i40’s suspension, on the other hand, occupies a sweet spot in the middle. It lacks sophistication but is supple and quiet on poor-quality roads and cornering too is quite ok (although not in the Mondeo’s or Octavia’s class).
Braking: Braking feel is good. The i40's pedal responds in a linear fashion to driver input, and stopping performance from the all-disc hardware is secure, even with a load up.
ANCAP rating: 5 stars
Safety features: Occupants are comprehensively protected by nine airbags (front, front side, rear side, full-length curtain and driver's knee), and each seat is fitted with a three-point seatbelt.
The front seats are also equipped with seatbelt pretensioners and anti-whiplash headrests.
The i40's electronic safety suite comprises ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control and stability control, which is all overseen by the car's integrated Vehicle Stability Management system.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years, unlimited kilometres
Service costs: Servicing costs vary, consult your Hyundai dealer before purchase
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Skoda Octavia 103 TDI wagon ($35,990) - The Skoda Octavia is starting to feel dated inside, and it lacks many of the i40's modern features and feel.
But it handles better and has a more refined and powerful drivetrain. (see Octavia reviews)
Ford Mondeo LX wagon diesel ($37,340) - Ford's Mondeo is well-built and a better drive than the Hyundai. It has better drivetrain-refinement and power and torque outputs too, and costs just marginally more. (see Mondeo reviews)
Mazda6 Diesel wagon ($35,950) - Like the Ford, the Mazda6 diesel is more powerful and has more torque than the i40, but loses out to the Hyundai as it's only available with a manual transmission. (see Mazda6 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Hyundai i40 is arrestingly styled (it’s a real eye-catcher), offers plenty of room for the family and, in the diesel, provides strong performance with a frugal thirst.
The base model i40 Active comes with an appealing sticker price - especially when lined up against comparable midsized SUVs - but there are a few oversights.
It's annoying that there's no standard-fit cargo blind, and the poor positioning of the child seat anchorages is a little counter-productive when you're trying to cram baby gear and shopping into the boot.
Our recommendation is that the mid-grade Elite and high-grade Premium models offer better buying if you can stretch the budget a little further.
And, regardless of which specification you choose, the diesel and auto trans combo is also the best drivetrain configuration.
It gets a tick from us, the i40, but also look at the Octavia and Ford Mondeo wagons.
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