Our latest women's choice review is on the Hyundai i40, a reasonable priced family saloon. Is it worth the money?
Lots of gadgets. Surprisingly high quality interior. Comfortable. Safe.
Ever since the iPod came out all those years ago I've craved gadgets in my cars. Anything that can help connect me to my music, make driving more pleasurable or distract my children long enough for me to not go insane behind the wheel is good news. Hyundai have always tickled my taste buds in this sense; whereas German manufacturers sell their cars as the ultimate-in-refinement-technology, Eastern manufacturers like Hyundai sell their cars with as much technology as possible - even in entry level cars...
...the Hyundai i40 is a family car that has been designed to be reasonably priced for what you get. I have had a demo model for 2 and a half weeks now, and I must say that I've enjoyed my time with it.
The Hyundai i40 is a very pretty saloon which makes the Ford Mondeo look archaic. The i40 features Hyundai's latest design language which means sculpted flanks, a sporty rear end, tasty alloy wheels and narrow headlights.
What sets the i40 apart from other saloons is that it looks like none of its rivals. It has its own distinct style. Taste is subjective, but whenever I peered on the i40 from a distance, I couldn't help but admire it, and I even caught a few people staring at it.
Hyundai has long been held as a brand that makes comfortable, willing, but not sporty cars. The exterior of the i40 sets a tone for the driving experience to be more toward the sporty end, but in reality, it's typical Hyundai - comfortable, refined, but not a match for a BMW 3-Series in terms of driver involvement.
That's not to say the i40 is dull though. It's actually very willing. My loan car was powered by a 1.7-litre turbo diesel engine and I want to go on the record as saying that it's as good as any German units I've driven as of late, and more than a match for Vauxhall's 1.7 CDTi. It is the refinement of the engine that sets the tone for the driving experience - it is quiet and even on the motorway it never shouts its way in to the cabin. Good news for families with children who like to fall asleep on the back seat, then!
My car had the lowest specification engine with 114 bhp, but it's also available with 134 bhp, and there's a 2.0-litre diesel unit available too. All cars benefit from a slick 6-speed manual gearbox which is better than a lot of fuel-economy-centric cars on the roads with a shorter throw. In terms of comfort, the i40 is very much on par with a Ford Mondeo - it never crashes over bumps and it soaks up potholes well.
When I first sat down in the Hyundai i40, I immediately smiled. Hyundai designed the exterior of the car for the European market and inside, they've got what families want bang on. The interior is spacious, roomy, and extremely well designed - like most German cars, it's covered in dark materials yet unlike a lot of Eastern cars, it's not clad in horrible plastics. The i40 is deceptively premium, and the aluminium door handles and dashboard inserts help to make the i40 feel a lot more expensive than it really is.
My car lacked leather seats, but regardless, they were extremely comfortable and they're also supportive with good side bolsters. The steering wheel, gear knob and gaiter are leather wrapped, and no matter where you rest your arm, everything just feels so soft. In the back, leg room is excellent - the i40 is available as a Tourer, but the saloon is fine for most families. The boot is well designed with 553-litres of space which can be extended to a whopping 1719-litres with the rear seats folded almost flat.
I have been extremely impressed with the i40 and the way in which it sips fuel during my two and a half weeks with it. I don't like to hang about when I'm driving, and despite the cars spritely performance and also its willingness to rev, it returned a very respectable 64.5 mpg on a 100 mile round trip, 59.2 mpg on a 300 mile round trip and in town, it never dropped below 46 mpg. Combined with the engines hushed nature, the Hyundai i40 feels like a very efficient car to drive.
Trim and equipment
The car I was loaned to test was the second-entry level Hyundai i40 Saloon 1.7 CRDi 115 B'Drive Style 4dr. I recommend Style over base Active because it is extremely well equipped. This car comes equipped as standard with climate control, cruise control, electric heated mirrors, power folding mirrors, CD player, MP3 / iPod connectivity, alloy wheels, front fog lights, satellite navigation (an optional extra in all German competitors at the equivalent trim level), Bluetooth, split / fold rear and the most coveted of all equipment, an alarm.
The range starts from Active (£18,765) and extends all the way up to Premium (£26,320). The car I was loaned to test drive had an on the road price of £20,865, which I think is very reasonable as far as equipment is concerned. Premium models come with leather heated seats as standard and different alloy wheels.
I think the Hyundai i40 is an excellent car. I drive a lot of premium German cars and the i40 is a match for them - maybe not in terms of ultimate refinement, but it certainly outdoes all of them when it comes to equipment and value for money. As a brand Hyundai is, for me, more premium than Toyota or Kia, and I'd rather have a H badge than a T or K badge any day.
Ultimately, the i40 is comfortable, it's safe, it's economical, it's practical... do you really want anything else in a family car?
If you want better quality, you'd be best off with an Audi A4, Skoda Octavia or Volkswagen Passat. If you want a livelier drive, you should check out the Ford Mondeo and Mazda 6. As it is, though, the Hyundai i40 is probably one of the best all-rounder's your money can buy when it comes to family saloons.