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Hyundai ix35 Elite 2.0

 

Crossovers, sports utility vehicles: call them what you will, but off-road-style wagons are now the single most popular type of new vehicle sold in New Zealand.

Base price: $44,990.

Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre petrol four, 122kW/205Nm, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, Combined economy 9.8 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 4410mm long, 1680mm high, luggage capacity 465 litres, fuel tank 58 litres, 18-inch alloy wheels.

We like: Sensible specification, eager engine and adept transmission.

We don’t like: Relative thirst, hard ride.

How it rates: 7/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?

Crossovers, sports utility vehicles: call them what you will, but off-road-style wagons are now the single most popular type of new vehicle sold in New Zealand.

We say off-road “style” because in fact four-wheel drive is no longer considered essential for these high-riding machines. It’s a tacit admission from the industry and buyers that no, most of these vehicles really don’t go off-road.

The compact-crossover segment (think Toyota RAV4) is the most heavily populated and perhaps the most competitive of the genre. All but two makers in this market offer two-wheel drive versions of their crossover models, which makes a lot of sense. However, most are lower-end models – the more luxuriously equipped versions still tend to feature four-wheel drive technology.

That’s where the revised Hyundai ix35 comes in. The Korean brand has reasoned that there must be buyers out there who aren’t fixated on having the top powertrain, but still want flagship levels of style and equipment.

Enter the ix35 Elite: top shelf when it comes to standard specification, but powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine (other ix35 variants get a 2.4-litre) driving the front wheels.

How do you spot the new ix35? There are new headlight shapes, revised alloy wheel designs and metal-effect roof rails. New colours too, including the searing Atomic orange of our test car.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

The direct-injection 2.0-litre engine is quite a crisp performer, providing you’re not expecting sports-car acceleration. It’s only on big inclines and fast overtaking manoeuvres that the power delivery starts to feel a little thin, although in those situations the six-speed automatic gearbox steps in and does its part.

It’s a shame that the ix35 2.0 isn’t a bit more thrifty, though. The official figure of 9.8 litres per 100km isn’t impressive and real-world driving certainly doesn’t yield better results. Perhaps there’s a point at which a smaller engine is subject to diminishing returns, as it works harder to move a vehicle of the Hyundai’s size.

The ix35 has never been a star in the corners, but it is safe and predictable. The latest model has gained Hyundai’s Flex Steer system, which allows you to choose between three different steering weights. A novel touch, although it doesn’t add any more feel.

The chassis is firm so body roll is contained in corners, but it’s definitely at the cost of ride comfort around town. We’d opt for a bit more compliance in a family car like this – especially one that emphasises the comforts of home over outright performance.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH?

The ix35 still has quite a striking visual style, although hand-in-hand with that goes quite a bit of bling inside and out. That’ll be a matter of taste: some love it, others reckon it’s a touch too much for the eyes.

Beyond the looks, the cabin is nicely assembled but does rely on hard plastics. The Elite has leather upholstery, which adds a touch of luxury but doesn’t help in seat comfort: the ix35’s chairs lack shape, but the cloth-covering in lower-end versions does provide a better base and support.

New for the facelifted ix35 are reclining rear seats and soft-touch upper door trim in the Elite model.

SHOULD I BUY ONE?

Buyers in the compact-crossover class really are spoilt for choice, so it’s very hard for one model to stand out. The ix35 is only average in terms of performance and practicality, but it does have a couple of things going for it.

The first is that Hyundai remains an aspirational brand for many, especially in the crossover sphere where ix35 gets some image trickle-down from the very polished Santa Fe.

The other is that it rewards buyers who are realistic enough to know what they want is a high-end look and equipment and aren’t too worried about sheer performance or off-road ability. It makes sense.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

Air conditioning: Dual climate

Audio: CD, iPod compatible

Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/No

Blind spot warning: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Cruise control: Yes

Driver footrest: Yes

Head-up display: No

Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No

Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes

Lane guidance: No

Leather upholstery: Yes

Parking radar: Yes rear with camera

Power boot or tailgate: No

Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No

Remote audio controls: Yes

Satellite navigation: Yes

Seat height adjustment: Yes

Self-parking technology: No

Split/folding rear seats: 60/40

Steering reach adjustment: Yes

Stop-start: No

Trip computer: Yes

Find a Hyundai ix35 HERE


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