Hyundai 140 2011 Review
Korean brand Hyundai is steadily pushing away from its downmarket history, and the i40 Tourer - station wagon in Aussie - is the next step on that road.
There's not a huge amount of choice if you're looking for an affordable mid-sized wagon, so the arrival of another contender was always going to be welcome. And with the i40, Hyundai is launching the range here with the wagon this month. It will be joined by a sedan by the end of the year in overseas markets, but i40 Tourer will serve here as the wagon complement to the brand's i45 in the mid-size field.
The i40 Tourer is available in three trim levels - Active, Elite and Premium. Prices start at $32,490 for the manual petrol drivetrain in Active trim with standard kit including daytime running lights and 'static bending' headlamps, electronic park brake, Bluetooth, cruise control, 16-in alloys wheels, full-size spare and premium steering wheel with audio and phone controls.
Adding $2000 gets you the automatic transmission, and a further $2000 swaps the petrol engine for the diesel across the range.
The auto-only Elite spec is $39,490 for the petrol, and includes premium audio, 17-in alloy wheels, larger disc brakes, alloy pedals, foglights, front and rear park assist, powered driver's seat and rain-sensing wipers.
The same drivetrain in Premium spec is $44,490, and includes 18-in wheels, heated/cooled leather seats front and rear, adaptive cornering high-intensity headlights, reversing camera, panoramic glass roof and extra cosmetic garnish.
With Toyota's Camry wagon having exited, the i40's main rivals are the Ford Mondeo, Mazda6 and Subaru Liberty wagons. But while it's priced and equipped to nip at their sales, it could be in trouble if people ever stop ignoring the great drivetrains and fit-out of the even better-priced Skoda Octavia.
The signature for this car is bound to become the arabesque LED running lights. It's a startling feature but some people are going to find the curvilinear accent too fussy. The body is a sharply-penned translation of Hyundai's 'fluidic' design language, and every panel seems to be creased, folded and curved.
The car sits low - which lends a sporty hint to the looks but means the front fascia is in danger of scraping over deep driveways - while a large roof spoiler and elongated light clusters add a sense of attitude.
The stylish cabin relies mainly on the sculpted surfaces and lines of the dash flowing through onto the doors, picked up with metallised accents in the Premium spec. At this level you also get top-flight finishes and well-matched perforated leather for the heated/cooled seats front and rear. The centre console wouldn't look out of place in a German premium brand, but the steep angle means a lot of the digital information is unreadable in bright light.
Hyundai has gone big on a vast array of blue-lit dials and instruments - 14 lights on the steering wheel alone - transforming the cockpit into an uber-tech display, but it risks attracting a queue of dazzled nightclubbers if you stray into the wrong postcode.
The i40 Tourer range arrives with just two engines. The petrol unit is an all-new direct-injection 2.0-litre developing 130kW of power and 213Nm of torque.
Official fuel figures for the petrol engine are posted as 6.8 l/100km when it's mated with the six-speed manual (in base model Active spec only) and 7.7 l/100km when it's joined to the six-speed auto.
The turbodiesel engine is a 1.7-litre four-cylinder that develops 100kW of power and 320Nm of torque when mated to the auto transmission, giving a fuel figure of 5.6-6.0L/100km, while going for the manual gives you an extra 10Nm of torque while improving economy to 4.7L/100km.
Like the i45 sedan it joins, the i40 Tourer's suspension set-up is MacPherson struts for the front and multi-link for the rear. However, after the poor reception to the i45's dynamics - which resulted in Hyundai recalibrating the sedan's suspension and steering - the Australian HQ's in-house engineers have reworked the wagon to bring it more in line with local driving styles and conditions.
It has just a five-star ANCAP crash rating, with the local body awarding the stars based on the results of the i40's European NCAP test. The car has a standard list that includes nine airbags, stability and traction control, and anti-skid brakes with brakeforce distribution to counter uneven loading and brake assist to give extra 'boot' for panic stops.
The work done to 'Australianise' the steering and suspension shows, with a noticeable improvement on the revised i45. The steering is accurate and has much better-considered weight, although it's still on the light side. There's still nothing in the way of feel, but that's not out of order for buyers of a family wagon. They'll be similarly satisfied with the reasonably compliant ride and safe, dependable cornering, but it's not a car for the hard-driving enthusiast.
We tested both engines with the six-speed auto, and found while the petrol unit is very quick from standstill, the torque doesn't keep tipping in as you climb. You can use the paddles for quick-think changes to pre-empt what the economy-focused transmission will do, but otherwise it's responsive enough without being spectacular.
Our pick is the diesel, which isn't as zippy off the line, but delivers comfortably as you climb the rev range above 2000rpm, and never sounds agricultural on the job. It's the heavier unit, but you don't notice the difference.
While the sharply angled front and rear windscreens enhance the looks, they undermine the visibility - compounded in the top spec by the larger rearview mirror, which includes a reversing camera to help you see out the back but leaves you a slot to peer underneath out the front.
While the i40 Tourer loses to some its rivals dynamically, it's a practical family package. It's well-priced against the competition, and better-styled than most of them. The fit-out is excellent at all levels, but the base model is especially good value - it leaves you wondering why you'd spend the extra to cram in any more features and garnish.
HYUNDAI i40 TOURER
Price: from $32,490 - $46,490
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km
Thirst: 6.8-7.7L/100km, 91RON, CO2 159g/km; 4.7-6.0L/100km diesel CO2 124g/km
Safety equipment: 9 airbags, ESP, ABS, EBD, traction control, stability control
Crash rating: N/A
Engines: 2.0-litre 4-cyl petrol 130kW/213Nm; 1.7-litre turbodiesel 100kW/325Nm
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed auto with paddle-shifters, FWD
Body: 4-door sedan, 5 seats
Dimensions: Length 4770mm, width 1815mm, height 1470mm
Wheelbase: 2770mm, tracks front/rear 1591mm/1597mm
Tyres: 16x7.0; 17x7.5; 18x8
Spare: Full-size alloy