Is the grass always greener on the other side? After months behind the wheel of our Hyundai ix35, I’ve grown used to seeing its Kia Sportage equivalent parked in the office car park. Curiosity finally got the better of me, so I grabbed the keys to both to see how they compare.
The styling of these cars signalled a real change of gear for their manufacturers, and while a quick straw poll of the office shows the Sportage is more popular, I think they both look fantastic. I love the creases that run down the flanks of the ix35, and its distinctive headlights really look the part. The shape of the side windows also gives the Hyundai a sporty profile, so in terms of visual appeal, I don’t think I’m missing out at all.
Interior quality is excellent in both models, too. They share the same engine and transmission, so choosing between them boils down to personal taste. And after a thorough examination of both of them, I’m not sure the grass is any greener in this comparison.
The two models have something else in common: they’ve required an unscheduled trip to the dealer. In Issue 1,182, we reported how staff photographer Pete Gibson needed a fresh set of alloy wheels for his Sportage after spotting corrosion on them. And our ix35 has suffered from an electronic glitch. In my last update, I reported problems syncing my smartphone with the car’s Bluetooth system. I’m happy to report that this issue has now been resolved, although it did take three weeks to sort.
Originally I was told the car’s entertainment unit needed a new screen, and that this would have to be shipped from South Korea. After hearing nothing, I chased the dealer, Hyundai London in Hendon, a couple of times to find out when it would arrive. In the end, the fault was actually fixed with a simple upgrade to the electronics, which could have been done the first time I took the car in!
Once this solution had been identified, the staff at Hyundai London dealt with it very efficiently, and I’m now able to link my phone to the car with no problems.
One thing that can’t be fixed by a software update is the sat-nav’s inability to recognise full postcodes when entering your destination. You can input the first four digits, but a full entry would save time and reduce the chances of turning up at the wrong place.
Still, this is hardly a deal breaker, and the sat-nav comes as part of the reasonably priced £950 Media Pack. The handy package of extras also includes a reversing camera, which is perfect for someone like me, who rarely drives their car outside of London. The folding door mirrors are another helpful feature, and I make sure they’re tucked in at every opportunity, whether I’ve parked in a crowded multi-storey or on the narrow suburban street where I live.
Other useful touches include extending sun visors – really handy when the sun is low in the sky – and a slot in the central cubby to hold the key (it has push-button ignition).
All of which shows the ix35 is more than just a pretty face...