Hyundai ix35 review
The Hyundai ix35 is a stylish and practical alternative to the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage
The crowded crossover class has become one of the most closely fought in the UK. Ever since the original Nissan Qashqai set the fashionable template in 2007, rival makers have been clamouring to get a slice of the action.
Given the stiff competition, it’s no surprise that the Hyundai ix35 has been refreshed after only a few years. With its tweaked styling and uprated chassis, the new model promises to be even more eye-catching and better to drive.Tweaked looks, new trim levels and more kit help add extra showroom appeal, while revised suspension settings aim to deliver a sharper driving experience.
Elsewhere, the ix35 remains largely unchanged. This means the same line-up of 1.6-litre petrol, plus 1.7 and 2.0 diesel engines. You can also choose between efficiency-boosting two-wheel-drive and grippy four-wheel-drive transmissions.
Our choice: ix35 1.7 CRDi 2WD
• Read our Hyundai ix35 used buyer's guide
Hyundai has played safe with the revised looks of the ix35, which means you get the same bold mix of creases and curves, slab sides and tall stance.
Careful inspection reveals the new LED daytime running lights and reworked tail-lamps, but that’s about it as far as the changes go. Still, all versions get alloy wheels plus body-coloured bumpers and door mirrors, while SE versions and above benefit from silver-finish roof rails. Optional extras such as bi-xenon headlamps, 18-inch alloys and chrome door handles model can give an extra visual lift.
There have been even fewer changes inside, where you’ll find the same striking dashboard and decent-quality finish. There are plenty of soft-touch materials, the switchgear operates with precision, the blue backlighting gives a classy feel at night and the high-set driving position provides a commanding view. Entry models are sparsely equipped, but SE versions and above feature heated front and rear seats, climate control, Bluetooth and a leather wheel.
Go for at least SE Nav and you’ll be treated to the brand’s upgraded navigation set-up, which features an intuitive seven-inch touchscreen and extremely clear mapping.
Some of the biggest changes to the Hyundai ix35 have been reserved for the suspension, where the adoption of new dampers and side-load coil springs aims to deliver a smoother ride and sharper handling than before.
On the move the differences are hard to detect, though. The ix35 feels more composed over bumps, but there’s still too much body roll through corners, while the lifeless steering fails to inspire confidence.
On the plus side, excellent visibility and a commanding driving position make the Hyundai a doddle to drive around town, while decent refinement helps take the strain out of long journeys.
Go for the top-spec 134bhp 4x4 2.0 CRDi diesel and the ix35 is an effortless cruiser, with plenty of overtaking ability in reserve - but it might be too expensive for some. The 1.6-litre petrol is the cheapest but feels underpowered, which makes the 114bhp 1.7 CRDi engine is a good compromise.
In real-world driving conditions, this version of the ix35 has to be worked hard to keep up with equivalent rivals from Mazda and Honda, while acceleration in sixth gear is sluggish. To make matters worse, the ix35’s diesel can’t match its rivals’ for smoothness, plus the manual gearbox has a notchy action.
In recent years, Hyundai’s forged a strong reputation for durability – and the ix35 has been one of its star performers. The pre-facelift car finished a fine 21st in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey, and owners ranked it in the top four for reliability.
The new car – which is near-identical mechanically – should be no different. And there’s always the reassurance of the brand’s five-year warranty and recovery plan.
The ix35 also has a strong safety record, with a five-star Euro NCAP rating. All cars get six airbags, stability control and active head restraints, while 4WD is an option on 2.0-litre diesels. However, there’s no optional lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring or collision avoidance kit.
The revised ix35 has the same dimensions as before, yet it’s still a reasonably practical family car. Its boot opening isn’t as wide as that in either a Mazda CX-5 or a Honda CR-V, for example, although the boot floor is flat and there’s a decent 591 litres of boot space. This stretches to 1,436 litres with the rear seats folded – but there are no remote release levers in the luggage area, as there are in the other cars mentioned.
Still, you get a useful hidden compartment under the false boot floor, plus a number of shopping bag hooks, a 12V power supply and a luggage net. Elsewhere in the cabin you’ll find plenty of storage for odds and ends, including large door bins, a deep cubby under the front centre armrest
and an air-conditioned glovebox. And while the hard plastic that covers the backs of the front seats looks a little cheap, the finish is tough and simple to keep clean. In the back, legroom isn't great, while access to the bench is hindered by the narrow door openings.
On the plus side, the flat floor means those sitting in the middle seat get plenty of foot space.
The cleanest engine is the 2WD 1.7 CRDi which returns fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 48.7mpg and 139g/km respectively, which isn't as low as some rivals. You can add Hyundai's ISG stop-start system though which boosts economy to 54.3mpg and cuts CO2 emissions to 135g/km. Go for the more powerful, four-wheel drive 2.0 CRDi in Premium spec and those figures become 47.9mpg and 154g/km.
A five-year warranty helps to guard against repair bills in the long term and Hyundai also offers a £499 pre-paid servicing pack, which covers routine maintenance for 36 months and 30,000 miles. Our experts predict that it’ll hold on to an impressive 53.3 per cent of its new price over three years.
Top spec Premium models come a long standard equipment list that wouldn’t look out of place on a luxury limo yet still manages to be cheaper than rivals from Honda and Mazda.