Hyundai i40 vs rivals

Hyundai has grand plans to beat the best family cars with its new i40. We see if the Tourer estate delivers as it tackles Skoda and VW rivals

Hyundai i40 vs rivals

A decade of success in our Driver Power surveys has seen Hyundai broaden its horizons. The most improved brand in our chart over the last 10 years is no longer content to rival the midfield runners in the family sector.

The new i40 Tourer has just hit showrooms – a saloon will follow in November – and it has been tasked with beating the best the class has to offer. With a choice of three trim levels and a trio of engines we’ve chosen the anticipated best-seller for its road test debut.

The efficient 1.7 CRDi Blue Drive diesel, in Style trim, is expected to prove the most popular choice in the new range, and it’s easy to see why. It costs £22,295, produces 134bhp and features stop-start and low-rolling-resistance tyres to register an impressive CO2 output of 119g/km.

If you want a mix of efficiency and performance, the benchmark in this sector is the VW Passat. The 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI BlueMotion Technology SE model is a close match for the Hyundai on paper, but it commands a £1,305 premium in showrooms. Setting the standard is the Skoda Superb Estate. It’s our favourite car in this class, although to match the other models’ economy and emissions, you have to opt for the new GreenLine II.

This uses a 1.6-litre TDI engine, which produces only 104bhp. Is the rest of the award-winning Skoda package good enough to compensate for its lack of punch in this showdown?

Verdict

At the start of this test, we asked if the i40 could repeat the success of Hyundai’s small cars and worry the established class leaders. And the answer is an undoubted yes. The newcomer is a huge leap forward from the firm’s previous big cars. It offers an impressive blend of refinement, pace and comfort at a competitive price. When you factor in its low emissions, generous kit count and five-year warranty, it holds massive appeal for private buyers and business users alike. We haven’t given it an easy ride by pitching it against two of the top family estates, and the i40 falls short of victory – but not by much. It’s let down by its less polished dynamics, and the load area lacks the user-friendly touches that distinguish the best estates from the rest. In the final analysis, the Hyundai secures second place. It’s cheaper and better equipped than the sensible but uninspiring Passat, so it narrowly pips the VW to the runners-up spot. Our winner is the cleanest, cheapest and most polished performer here. Even though it trails rivals for performance, the Skoda takes victory.

1. Skoda Superb Greenline Estate Only the 1.6-litre TDI GreenLine II version of the Skoda has the CO2 emissions to match the other cars in this test, so you have to accept a performance deficit to own a clean Superb. But that doesn’t detract from its winning blend of space, quality and driver appeal.

2. Hyundai i40 Tourer What a debut. Hyundai has hit the jackpot with the excellent i40. It’s a great value package that mixes stylish looks with a high-quality cabin. While it’s not the best estate around, as a rival to mainstream five-door family car rivals, it makes lots of sense.

3. VW Passat Estate Excellent performance and low emissions are offset by high costs. The Passat no longer enjoys an advantage over its rivals in terms of quality, and isn’t as fun to drive as the class leaders. Space inside is cramped, too.

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