HYUNDAI I45 ELITE REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium sedan
Price: $34,590 (plus on-road costs)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.4 l/100km
The i45 was a breakthrough for Hyundai in design, build and engineering quality when launched early last year - but the replacement for the Sonata was not without faults, particularly with its suspension tune.
A significant overhaul for 2011 however brings improved handling and noise-insulation, making it a genuine value proposition for new car buyers.
- Quality: The black-on-black interior of the i45 Elite is well-designed and put-together with a premium feel to the dash and door materials. The leather trim of the seats and steering wheel feels a level above its price range.
- Comfort: The front seats would benefit from more lateral support, but overall comfort front and back is good. The cabin is spacious, with leg, head and shoulder room on par with the best in the medium segment.
- Equipment: Rain-sensing wipers, ECO indicator, cruise control, steering-mounted controls and paddle shift, one-touch triple-turn signal, driver electric lumbar support, heated external mirrors, six speaker audio with auxiliary and USB connectivity.
- Storage: Rear storage is small to average for the medium segment, allowing 463 litres of luggage with the 60:40 split-fold rear seats upright. There are additional storage options for smaller items in the cabin.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: Hyundai’s 2.4 litre GDi direct-injected engine offers good power and torque for its size. With 148kW and 250Nm of torque, it is matched pretty closely to the Accord Euro and Mazda6.
While the accelerator can feel a little too touchy, the engine is paired with a very good six-speed automatic transmission.
Its mapping is designed to preserve mechanical components and for improved fuel consumption. It upshifts early in normal driving, and will occasionally skip a ratio when accelerating hard.
- Refinement: With new sound insulation for 2011, cabin noise has improved significantly. Wind noise is largely absent, although there is noticeable but low noise from the tyres of the Elite’s 17-inch wheels on coarse roads and in corners.
- Suspension: Suspension too is improved, offering good overall comfort with a smooth ride, good compliance at low speeds and a firmer ride at higher speeds.
The front to back tuning of the dampers and spring rates has been improved giving better control over broken bitumen and secondary surfaces.
The steering however is too light at the dead-ahead and overly sensitive in corners.
- Braking: Braking is smooth and consistent; pedal feel is about right for family driving.
- ANCAP rating: 5 Stars
- Safety features: Six airbags (front, front side and full-length curtain) are standard, as are front anti-whiplash headrests, three-point seatbelts on all seats, front pretensioning seatbelts, ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control and hill descent control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: Five years/unlimited kilometres.
- Service costs: Servicing intervals are set at every 15,000km/12 months. Maintenance costs vary, so contact your Hyundai dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Honda Accord Euro ($33,790) - Equal power and a touch less torque; the Euro handles better, but the i45 offers a better six-speed automatic.
Safety equipment and features are about even, although the Euro gets rear side-airbags and slightly bigger brakes. The i45 Elite also gets leather trim as standard while the entry Euro gets cloth. (see Accord Euro reviews)
- Mazda6 Limited ($29,310) - A good $5000 cheaper, but the i45 offers more power, more features and an equal array of safety equipment. The Mazda6 tops the i45 for handling however. (see Mazda6 reviews)
- Toyota Camry Ateva ($32,490) - The Camry falls short on power, and the i45 Elite is its equal or better for features, safety, and trim. The Camry will offer better resale value, but it isn’t the better car. (see Camry reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
For power, equipment, comfort and build quality, the i45 is the equal of most medium cars in its price range. If you’re looking at any of the above cars, this Hyundai should be on your list too.
The i45’s handling updates for the 2011 model year are significant too, but may not impress buyers more ‘in tune’ with that side of things.
That said, for everyday driving, there is little to fault with the i45’s drive, interior comfort and overall quality.