These days Hyundai is aiming to move upmarket by offering a comprehensive package at a price that is believed to be very competitive. True or not … we’re about to discover.
The estate variant of the i40 was unveiled for the first time in 2011 at the Barcelona Motor Show (don’t know why they used that motor show) and as his little brother, the new i10, it was designed in Russelsheim , Germany at Hyundai’s European R&D center.
The only difference is that the i40 is still assembled in only one place – in South Korea, at Ulsan where Hyundai operates the largest car factory on the planet. (just to give you a hint: that plant has 34,000 employees and produce about 5,600 vehicles / day!) Some will ask why? It’s because all Hyundai’s factories in Europe are at full; simple as that.
Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Hyundai cars. Ten years ago it launched cars that were cheap but not all that good. Five years ago the cars were good but not all that good-looking. Today? Today Hyundai is completely changed.
If is because they are designing these new cars in Germany, or if because some are assembled in Europe … I don’t care… and neither the customers, I’m sure. I’m more interested if the i40 looks good, if it’s well assembled and if the price is competitive.
At 23.750 Eur here in Europe, the i40 estate is about 2,000 Eur cheaper than a Peugeot 508 or Ford Modeo, and Hyundai offers the brilliant 5-years of warranty with unlimited km package. That’s quite a package, by anyone’s standards. Moreover, the i40 is supposed to hold its resale value better than the Ford. Surprise surprise.
The i40 is described as featuring Hyundai’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language, and at 4,770 mm long is about 50mm less long than the U.S. marketed Sonata model. Some say this is one of the most beautiful estate models in the D-Segement.
Engine, transmission, fuel consumption
Our estate came equipped with the 1.7-liter four pot turbo diesel unit that delivers 136 hp at 4.000 rpm and 320 Nm of torque (330 Nm when equipped with manual gearbox).
It is the largest turbo diesel that Hyundai installs on the i40, but on the same time, at only 1685 cmc it’s one of the smallest diesel unit in the D-Segment that provides this power. The competition comes with two-liter engines or even 2.2-liter units for the equivalent power of 130-140 hp.
On the other hand, the engine is a bit noisy compared to other diesels (on start-up but once warm it’s unobtrusive) and you can feel some king of vibrations through the steering.
It will push the 4,770 mm long estate to 100 km/h in 12 seconds (10,6 seconds with manual gearbox), mostly because the i40 is heavy. As a matter of fact, at 1659 kg, this is one of the heaviest vehicle in this class, but the six-speed automatic gearbox does a great job and on third and fourth gears, overtaking can be done with ease. There’s also a sport button.
Hyundai says the estate has a combined fuel consumption of 6,0 liters for every 100 km (urban: 7,6l – extra-urban: 5,1). We’ve tested this car for about 3 weeks and I can tell you that, generally speaking, the South Korean automaker doesn’t lie. For example at 120km/h, the computer indicates 5,7 l / 100km. Overall, after more than 1,200 km the on-board computer showed us 6,4 liters/100km (combined fuel consumption).
After the first 10 km, I said to me that this car will understeer badly. That was my first impression because, the steering is so light that gives almost no confidence, and for someone who jumps from one car to another almost every week … that was my first impression. But I was wrong.
The steering is very light indeed; great for parking maneuvers or when you’re driving thru the city, but at high speeds remains almost the same – very very light. This is the reason why the car doesn’t offer that confidence I was looking for. I’ll say that is too “overly-assisted”.
But does it really oversteers or has a bad body roll effect? Well … actually not. Impressively, I had to push hard the gas pedal to put the car out of the trajectory, and the body roll is decent, even if, like I said before this has more than 1.6-tons.
Therefore, you have to get used to it, and if you do so, you might find it pretty good. The car is stable at high speeds, and it remains pretty composed in bends.
In terms of safety, the i40 was awarded with five stars by Euro Ncap, the highest possible safety rank in Europe. So once again we have a winner. It comes equipped with 7 airbags – front, front side and full length curtain, and one also at the driver’s knee. There are also active front headrests, which minimize whiplash in the event of a rear collision. ESP, ABS Brake Assist and Hill-start Assist Control comes as standard.
Interior, cargo space
Estate cars must be practical; that’s why you buy an estate. The i40 offers plenty of space, particularly for the rear passengers. Headroom is good, but leg room is colossal.
When it comes to boot space, the i40 is one of the best in class. It offers 553 liters with the rear seats in place and if you fold them down you get a total load volume of 1,719 liters. Again it can be compared without any problem with a Ford Modeo (537 / 1,728 liters).
Inside the cabin, Hyundai’s ‘fluidic’ design is everywhere. It is pretty well composed, decidedly posh, with soft-touch fittings on the doors and dash. You will find some cheap plastics here and there, but overall, the entire cabin proves the efforts Hyundai made in the last couple of years to push the brand upmarket.
The gauges are nicely illuminated; satnav is easy to use, my cell phone paired immediately and there’s a reverse camera that has a good resolution. It’s a comfortable and relaxing cruiser; at high speeds the wind and road noise are kept to a minimum.
Clearly Hyundai’s hard work seems to have paid off. It finally offers a serious car in the D-Segment – it’s a really good car, one I’d recommend to anyone looking to buy a family estate. It offers value for money.
It’s not a fast car for sure, but it’s comfortable and offers a lot of space for the driver and passengers. The 1.7 diesel is a bit noisy but you can live with it after it gets warm. The steering is too light (probabily the biggest disappointment) but after you get used to it you may like it.
Wind and road noise are almost non-existent inside the car.
plus for: interior quality (a big step forward), fuel economy, five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, five-star crash rating, clearly labelled controls, standard equipment
minus for: steering (too light), engine noise & vibrations (when cold)
Competition: Vw Passat, Ford Mondeo, Opel Insignia, Peugeot 508
Tested car: Hyundai i40 estate 1.7 Crdi. Starts at 23,750 Eur. Tested model: 33,800 Eur
Technical details Hyundai i40 estate 1.7 Crdi
Engine: 1,685 cmc four-cylinder turbo diesel Euro5
Transmission: 6 speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters
Power: 100 kw (136 hp) at 4000 rpm and 320 Nn of torque
Max speed: 190 km/h
Acceleration 0-100: 12 seconds
Fuel consumption: urban: 7,6; extra-urban: 5,1; combined: 6,0 l / 100km
Co2 Emissions: 159 g/km
Suspension: Front: Mcpherson; Rear: Multi link
Boot space: 1,719 litres with seats down / 553 seats in position
4.5 / 5
December 19th, 2013