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Volkswagen Passat 125TDI vs Hyundai i40 Premium


Volkswagen Passat 125TDI and Hyundai i40 Premium go head-to-head in this comparative review.

value

Volkswagen Passat 125TDI

$45,990

These two aren't cheap so luring the buyer, like going on a date, depends on visual appeal. The Volkswagen Passat's design is clinical but oozes quality. Standard kit is much the same as the i40, save for the sunroof and a few bits. Value? Yes, though a lot is deeper under the skin than the Hyundai.

Hyundai i40 Premium

$46,490

This Euro-styled wagon comes so kitted out there's nothing wanting. The Premium tops the range with sunroof, leather, heated front seats, rear camera and lots of brightware. Think Mercedes early last decade. It gets top-notch safety equipment and full-size spare wheel. Good value for money in terms of space and fittings.

technology

Volkswagen Passat 125TDI

The 125TDI is a tweaked version of the age-old 103TDI with the same 2.0-litre turbo diesel unit punching out 125kW/350Nm. It goes through a six-speed DSG for instant shifting. Suspension is MacPherson strut front and four-link coil rear and the steering has electric assistance. Hyundai has clearly had its eye on the Passat.

Hyundai i40 Premium

The 100kW/320Nm 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel is durable, economical and makes the wagon an enjoyable punt. There are some weaknesses in power delivery low in the rev range but the six-speed auto helps. Steering wheel paddle shifters are a nice touch but feel flimsy. Suspension is MacPherson struts and multi-link with coils.

design

Volkswagen Passat 125TDI

The Passat gets a new look for 2011 with its horizontal chrome bars on the grille, chiselled body lines and a clean and elegant interior. Its boxy shape efficiently turns exterior length into cabin space. Though exactly the same length as the i40, it has a bigger load capacity.

Hyundai i40 Premium

It follows the Hyundai i45 sedan onto the market and retains most of the fluid lines, stretching them to 4.8m. Big on the outside translates to big on the inside and to 1719 litres of space with the rear seats down. Some switchgear is poorly placed - particularly the ventilation fan controls.

safety

Volkswagen Passat 125TDI

Five-star crash rated with six airbags and all the other fruit. It also gets cornering lights, daytime running lights and a full-size spare wheel, front and rear park sensors and rain-sensing wipers.

Hyundai i40 Premium

Five-star crash rating and all the electronic aids. The full-size spare wheel is appreciated (the VW has one too), with extra marks for seven airbags, daytime driving lights, corner lights and rear park camera.

driving

Volkswagen Passat 125TDI

Here's where VW and Hyundai diverge. The Passat has a confident stance and steering that communicates - despite the electric assistance. The diesel is very torquey, gruffer than the i40, and the dual-clutch auto gets power to the ground rapidly and smoothly. It's more the driver's car.

Hyundai i40 Premium

It looks a big comfortable car and drives like that. The steering is almost devoid of road feel, and the bodyroll when pushed through corners is unsettling. I liked the electronic park brake - merely a button on the console - and the rear camera, but visibility is generally poor.

Verdict

Volkswagen Passat 125TDI

Hyundai i40 Premium

The Passat remains the benchmark. That used to command a price premium but the interesting bit here is that this top-of-the-range Korean is actually more expensive than its German rival.