The skinny: As its name suggests, the i40 Series II is a mid-life update of the three-year-old sedan and wagon range. It mainly adds a stronger diesel, a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and more active safety equipment while also cutting prices.
The i40 Series II remains Euro-focused, and forms part of Hyundai’s two-pronged attack in the medium segment following the recent launch of the US-based Sonata.
They complement rather than compete with each other – the Sonata is larger and with petrol power; this i40 is slightly smaller and offers a wagon variant with frugal diesel power (as we’re testing here in flagship $44K Premium guise).
Vehicle Style: Medium wagon
Price: $43,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 104kW/340Nm 1.7 4cyl turbo-diesel | 7sp dual-clutch automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.1 l/100km | tested: 6.8 l/100km
Want proof? The new Tucson has been on-sale for the last three months, yet has racked up 1037 sales to September 2015. The i40 has had the whole year – or another six months – to muster just 1339 units.
Is it time, though, to champion the Hyundai i40 Tourer Series II against the odds? Would a smart wagon suit you better than SUV?
- Standard equipment: cruise control, power windows and mirrors, keyless auto-entry, multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, leather seat trim with front heating, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, electric tail-gate, rain-sensing wipers, panoramic sunroof
- Infotainment: 7.0in touchscreen with USB/AUX, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and satellite navigation
- Cargo volume: 506 litres (1672L back seat folded)
The Hyundai i40 Series II scores among the finest interior plastics of any model from South Korea, with plush surfacing consistently matched across door trims and dashboard.
The small 7.0-inch touchscreen does, however, lack an intuitive interface and misses out on the latest connectivity options such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration (available on some Tucson models). Some switchgear also feels cheap, shared with older Hyundai models.
In $43,990 Premium Tourer specification – $2K more than Premium sedan – some equipment has been sacrificed in the switch to Series II, such as the 18-inch alloy wheels (now 17s), electrically adjustable passenger seat (now driver-only), ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.
There’s some new equipment though, and this model is now $3600 cheaper than the pre-facelift Premium Tourer. 'Lane-keep assistance' is a rare feature in this class, subtly moving the steering wheel for the driver to keep the i40 Series II centred in its lane on the freeway, and the Premium Tourer can now auto-park itself.
Despite the electric adjustment and cooling deletion, the front leather-trimmed seats remain extremely comfortable.
Rear occupants are similarly treated to supportive pews, and they score a two-tier adjustable backrest. The panoramic sunroof doesn’t eat much into head space and there are large-wagon levels of legroom.
While cabin space is similar to the Tucson medium SUV, the 300mm-longer i40 Tourer far excels out back.
Its 506-litre luggage volume places the wagon 18L ahead of the similarly-priced SUV Tucson, while that lead extends even further when the rear seats are folded (1672L versus 1478L).
ON THE ROAD
- 104kW/340Nm 1.7 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
- Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front suspension, independent rear suspension
- Four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front and solid rear
- Electrically assisted power steering, turning circle: 10.9m
- Towing capacity: 700kg (unbraked), 1500kg (braked)
Behind the new grille and LED-laden front bumper of the i40 Series II lies a revised 1.7-litre turbo-diesel engine. It now produces 104kW at 4000rpm and 340Nm between 1750rpm and 2500rpm, increases of 4kW/20Nm.
It ties to Hyundai’s home-grown seven-speed dual-clutch rather than the torque converter automatic used previously, helping to reduce official combined cycle fuel consumption from 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres to 5.1L/100km.
This combination is certainly more about economy than performance.
The new dual-clutcher isn’t perfectly smooth at low speeds, lurching upon a slight lift of the brake when attempting to creep in traffic. It is quick to upshift, though, and downshifts surprisingly aggressively under brakes to aid engine braking.
The diesel itself is refined until the top end of the tachometer is reached, at which point it becomes boomy. The i40 Series II Premium Tourer is no lightweight at 1692kg, so the little diesel needs to go there often.
Yet it pants rather than powers ahead when the throttle is pinned during an overtaking manoeuvre.
The i40 Series II scores a faster electric power-steering system and also features revisions to the suspension by Hyundai's Australian engineering section.
It feels sportier than the Tucson and Sonata, which are mostly lush but with a hint of float over big hits.
Fittingly for a Euro-focused car, the latest Premium Tourer stays tied-down over big undulations on a country road, although the suspension filters through more little bumps that the Tucson and Sonata would both ignore. The result is less refinement overall.
Through corners, however, the i40 Series II is stable and balanced, if not as sharp as a Mazda6, and the low-rent Nexen tyres let the side down for handling (though they are very quiet).
The steering lacks the on-centre alacrity of the newer Hyundai mid-sizers, though its lane-keep assistance works subtly on the freeway.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.18 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Nine airbags including dual-front, front-side, rear-side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee, ABS, ESC, front and rear parking sensors, reverse-view camera, lane-keep assist.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Mazda6, Mondeo and Passat are more premium inside and more dynamic, but are also pricier. The Subaru Outback doesn’t steer as well as the i40 but is more refined and spacious.
The Octavia RS 135TDI is the sportiest and most affordable of the lot, but it is the least quiet. All rivals also have stronger diesel engines than that in the Hyundai.
- Ford Mondeo Titanium TDCi wagon
- Mazda6 GT diesel wagon
- Skoda Octavia RS 135TDI
- Subaru Outback 2.0D Premium
- Volkswagen Passat 140TDI
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Hyundai i40 Series II is better value than ever in Premium Tourer guise, well equipped for its $44K ask, impressively roomy, decently refined and very economical.
Sadly for anyone cheering on the underdog wagon genre, though, the i40 can’t quite hit the highs of the newer Tucson.
It needs the excellent 136kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel available in that SUV, however Hyundai says that engine simply isn’t available in this wagon.
The i40’s ride isn’t as soothing, yet the softer Tucson Highlander manages to feel more dynamic thanks to its extra grip (on 19in Continental tyres) and sharper steering.
Still, in isolation, the i40 Series II is a likeable and capable wagon that remains a fine choice for those who don’t like following a crowd. And it wins on space.
MORE: Hyundai News and Reviews