Final report on the i40 - 31 December 2012
The greatest weakness of our long-term test Hyundai is revealed when it’s time to say goodbye: I’m not going to miss it. That seems cruel, almost like saying you’re not going to miss Barney the black Labrador, who gave so many year’s faithful service – just bury him at the bottom of the garden next to the goldfish, and buy a new puppy. Heartless.
But it’s not like that. I really have appreciated the i40 over the last few months (though I never gave the Hyundai a name) – it’s a really good car, a genuine alternative to more predictable Fords and Toyotas, one I’d recommend to anyone looking to buy a family estate.
Still, it’s not a great car, and my feelings for it – as it drives off to that heavenly car auction in the sky – neatly sum up the challenge the Koreans still face: how do you make a car desirable? There’s no doubt they’ve made up huge ground in terms of the engineering, build quality and styling (in fact, Kia may be slightly ahead of Hyundai in that regard – have you seen a Kia Optima in the metal yet? It’s a seriously handsome saloon).
And the i40 has a lot going for it: our mid-range ‘Style’ model was rammed with gadgets when it arrived, including climate control, touchscreen sat-nav, a rear-view camera with parking bleepers, Bluetooth connectivity, all as standard. It’s well made too, with solid-feeling plastics and tough fabrics. A squeaky spring in the driver’s seat blotted the copybook a little (imagine the sound of a hamster being beaten to death with a slipper). Fortunately it only chirped on certain roads, not all the time, so it didn’t send me completely insane. What could have tipped me over the edge was the ‘Intel inside’ style chime every time you start and stop the engine. ‘Doesn’t that tinny little jingle drive you spare?’ asked Ben Whitworth, after his spell in the car. Apparently you can turn it off but I never discovered how.
But these are details – to be fair on the i40, I’ve always enjoyed getting into it. It’s comfortable, the gadget layout is all well thought-out, and the interior styling is easy on the eye. More surprising than the almost-Germanic build quality, perhaps, the i40 has also revealed itself as a bit of a drivers’ car too. It’s not quite a Lotus Evora, but it certainly won over my fellow CAR contributors when we all went on a team holiday… sorry… when we went on a serious group test in North Wales, back in June. ‘It steers really well, quite pointy, immediately responsive,’ were Jesse Crosse’s notes after he drove the car. Everyone placed it above our long-term Peugeot 508 SW, which was also on the holiday. I mean test. ‘We all prefer the handsome i40,’ was the verdict.
In terms of running costs, I haven’t spent anything on the Hyundai other than fuel (and some roof bars for my canoe). Hyundai claims 62.8mph for the 1.7 CRDI engine, though I never got more than 40. Ben Whitworth managed just over 41mpg when he had the car, so it wasn’t just me.
Summing up, there’s nothing wrong with the Hyundai i40, and there was never a day I woke up and thought: ‘Why the hell am I driving around in this while that git Ben Pulman swans around in his Porsche Panamera?’ (Those thoughts I save for bedtime, never in the mornings.) All the i40 lacks is desirability – that magical quality that some products have and some don’t.
Pause. Sorry, you didn’t think I’d actually have a solution when you started reading this, did you? How the hell would I know how Hyundai’s going to do that? All I can say is that the i40 is a great first step.
by Mark Walton
Enjoying the 500-mile range of the i40 - 13 April 2012
It's all in the mind of course, but there is something satisfying about a range of over 500 miles. Makes you feel like you're getting value for money. It's all in the mind because in order to see that figure on the trip, you've got to brim the Hyundai's 15-gallon/70-litre tank, and at around 149p a litre that's £100 worth of diesel.
So you have to pay for that minor pleasure. I could push it even higher though – Hyundai claims a combined fuel figure of 62.8mpg for the i40, and I'm hovering at just 39mpg, mostly because of my stop start commute and partly because I like driving fast. If I 'hypermile', and touch the throttle like it's a bed of hotcoals and I'm barefoot, it's pretty easy to get 42 or 45mpg, briefly – though that's hard to sustain because I'm always in such a rush. Imagine if I got it up to 60mpg – I'd see a 925 mile range on the trip.
Of course, the other disadvantage our i40 has in trying to achieve its official fuel economy figures is its perpetual payload. The i40's interior is enormous and – either by coincidence or perhaps just through opportunism – it's usually carrying something heavy.
Last week I helped a friend move out a few boxes of books. We folded the i40's rear seats down, and discovered the rear bench doesn't fold forwards to give you a flat floor – instead, the rear seat backs simply drop onto the bench, giving you a floor that gently slopes upwards towards the dashboard. Still, no matter – it's still a big load area, and by the time we'd loaded up the rear suspension looked under some strain. Poor Hyundai – pulling away from junctions it felt like I was driving a oil tanker. How is it ever going to reach 60mpg when I drive it like this?
By Mark Walton
Welcome to the Hyundai i40 Tourer 1.7 CRDi - 22 March 2012
In the first weeks since the Hyundai i40 Tourer arrived, it's made an excellent start. If that sounds like something a headteacher would say about a new kid in class, that's because there are similarities in getting to know people and cars. Like, 'first impressions count', for example.
The i40 Tourer is a strikingly handsome car, with a bold, swept crease through the flanks and those angry staring headlights. It's clearly influenced by the Chris Bangle revolution in European car design, with every panel a fluid mix of convex and concave curves, but that's no bad thing. Hyundai's aim is to beat the premium European makes at their own game, and the i40 is a great start. Most people who see it in the metal seem to like it straight away.
First impressions inside are good too. Ours is a mid-range Style model, which means a classy black cloth trim, Bluetooth, touchscreen sat-nav, parking sensors and rear-view camera, cruise control and dual-zone climate control, all as standard equipment. So far I'm loving the Bluetooth connection to the iPhone (you can play music wirelessly through it too); and hating the way the navigation only allows the first five characters in a postcode, which means you have to enter the whole address to find your destination. Surely that's how sat-navs used to work a few years ago, not in 2012?
And on the road – is it a case of 'must try harder'? Our car has the 134bhp 1.7 CDRI diesel engine (there's also a 113bhp diesel) with a six-speed manual gearbox, and I've been really impressed by the body control and the surprisingly alert handling, which makes all the roundabouts on my daily commute rather fun. It's also achieving 40-plus mpg (which for me is pretty impressive!). Good thing too, seeing as it cost me £100 to brim the 70-litre tank the other day. With fuel prices as they are, I might have to slow down and see if I can get closer to the official, claimed 62.8mpg (combined).
My only other gripe is a low bite point on the clutch, which means I keep snagging cogs when I change gear. Either it's the clutch, or I'm losing all my powers of co-ordination as old age creeps up on me. I presume it's the clutch.
So our new long termer costs £21,995 on the road, plus the only extra we added, the Titanium Silver metallic paint (£445). At £22,440 that makes it great value, and thousands cheaper than the equivalent European estate. Like I said, a great start.
By Mark Walton