Hyundai i40 review
The spacious and practical Hyundai i40 saloon offers bold looks, great economy and lots of kit
The Hyundai i40 is a watershed moment for Hyundai. The brand has already broken into the mainstream, but no model encapsulates its meteoric rise better than the i40. Hyundai’s last foray into the large family car class was with the woeful Sonata, but following on from the excellent i40 Tourer estate, the four-door model banishes any lingering association with the bargain basement and challenge the class leaders such as the Volkswagen Passat and Peugeot 508. Top-spec models come very well-equipped but do come at a price, while the punchy BlueDrive 1.7-litre CRDi diesel is efficient and cheap to tax, which should make the i40 a hit with company car buyers. Overall, there are three specifications - Active, Style and Premium - which all come with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-con, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic lights as standard. Hyundai is certainly trying to move the brand upmarket, so it can rival the likes of the Volkswagen Passat, but as a result, the prices start to rise. On the plus side private buyers will be tempted by the excellent five-year triple care package, which includes five years' free warranty, servicing and roadside assistance, too. Sister company Kia also offers a stylish saloon in the form of the Kia Optima. It shares the underpinnings and engines with the i40 but comes with a seven-year warranty, but there's little else to distinguish between the two. Hyundai also offers the i40 Estate, one of the finest looking estates on sale. It comes with a price premium of around £1,500, and a 553-litre boot space or 1,719 litres with the rear seats folded.
Our choice: i40 1.7 CRDi 136 Style
The Hyundai i40 saloon looks great, thanks to sleek lines and sporty flourishes like the subtle boot spoiler and standard-fit alloys and LED daytime running lights. Although it's not quite as attractive as its sister car, the Kia Optima, it still has more personality than the squared-off Volkswagen Passat. We’ve become used to solid and functional interiors in Hyundai’s smaller cars, but the flair and attention to detail on show in the i40 warrants special mention. The tasteful mixture of high-quality materials, simply laid-out controls and bright seven-inch touchscreen gives it a feelgood factor. There are three trim levels - Active, Style and Premium - and all versions come with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-con, automatic lights and Bluetooth. Top-spec Premium cars come with 18-inch alloys, heated seats, leather upholstery, a panoramic roof, a touchscreen sat-nav with reversing camera, and keyless entry and start.
The refined Hyundai i40 saloon is an impressively quiet cruiser. Hyundai is one of the most improved brands over the last decade (Kia, too) and that includes the way the way its cars drive. Even with the optional sport suspension, the i40 proves comfortable over rough roads, while the seats are soft and supportive. The Hyundai i40 isn't as good to drive as the Ford Mondeo or Skoda Superb, though. But the biggest issue is the steering, which is vague and light at the straight-ahead and then weights up artificially as you turn. There's just one petrol and one diesel to choose from, with the latter available in two power outputs and some come with Hyundai's eco BlueDrive technology, which costs an extra £300 and adds stop-start. The 1.6-litre petrol produces 133bhp and 164Nm of torque, which means it can go from 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds and has a top speed of 122mph. The 1.7 CRDi diesel is available with 114bhp and 192Nm or 134bhp and 240Nm. The lower powered version can go from 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds, but the more powerful version with BlueDrive cuts this to a more respectable 10.3 seconds (11.6 seconds if you opt for the six-speed automatic 'box).
The Hyundai i40 has a five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP, with an impressive 92 per cent for Adult Occupant. Every i40 comes fitted with ABS, ESP, hill-hold assist and seven airbags as standard. The optional Assist Pack adds a lane departure system, which automatically steers the car if it wanders out of its lane. Although the i40 is too new for us to judge its long-term reliability, Hyundai finished 14th place in the 2013 Driver Power Survey – a substantial drop of seven places compared with it position in the 2012 survey.. Nonetheless, every Hyundai comes with a five-year/unlimited mileage warranty and breakdown recovery, which could give extra peace of mind for potential buyers.
The Hyundai i40 saloon has a 525-litre boot, which is slightly smaller than the Ford Mondeo. Plus, with the saloon, the boot opening is a bit narrow, so loading bulky items can be a bit of a task. If you want more practicality, it might be best to opt for the estate version, the Hyundai i40 Tourer, which has a massive 1,719 litres of space with the rear seats folded. Back to the saloon, there's plenty of space for five adults and legroom is very good in the front seats, especially. Plus there's lots of clever stowage space. Unlike many cars, the transmission tunnel in the i40 doesn't hamper the comfort of passengers in the back too much. In the front there's plenty of storage areas, two cupholders and a decent-sized glovebox
The Hyundai i40 is a fairly cheap and efficient family saloon to run, with relatively low servicing costs and reasonable insurance groups. The lower powered diesel comes with Hyundai's eco-friendly Blue Drive technology, and offers fuel economy of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 113g/km. But even the more powerful diesel can manage 62.8mpg and 119g/km of CO2, which means it's no more expensive to tax than the entry-level diesel. It's best to avoid the non-BlueDrive diesel, though, as it can only manage 43.0mpg and 134g/km. It's the same for the 1.6 petrol, with the BlueDrive version returning 47.1mpg and emitting 140g/km, compared to 42.8mpg and 155g/km for the non-BlueDrive model. Hyundai also offers a five-year triple car promise, which includes a five year warranty, a five year servicing package and a five year roadside assistance package. Pick the right engine and the i40 saloon can be an efficient and economical choice.