There are reasons to buy Hyundai’s new i40 Tourer over the company’s other medium car, but what about rival models?
They say two heads are better than one, and it seems Hyundai agrees.
The Korean car maker has launched its second model into Australia’s medium car segment as it battles for market share against renowned rivals such as the Toyota Camry, Ford Mondeo and Mazda6.
There are obvious differences between the freshly arrived i40 Tourer and incumbent i45, beyond the badge names.
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Where the i45 is a sedan-only offering, the i40 is a wagon (though an i40 sedan is under consideration). The newer mid-sizer is also smaller than the large-for-its-class i45 that sits at 4820mm long. The i40 is 50mm shorter, 20mm narrower and with a 25mm-shorter wheelbase.
Despite the dimensions, the i40’s body style – also formed with the company’s ‘fluidic sculpture’ design language – ensures there is a bigger boot (553 litres) that also expands to 1719L with the rear seats folded.
There’s also a bigger price tag, however. For example, the base model i40 starts at $32,490 compared with the entry-level i45 ($26,990) that has the same engine size, but with a less-sophisticated fuel-injection system.
A longer list of standard features for the former may be some compensation for buyers preferring a mid-sized Hyundai in wagon form.
Unlike the i45, which is available with either a 2.0-litre or 2.4-litre petrol engine, the i40 allows Hyundai to pitch itself to medium car buyers wanting diesel power.
Customers are asked to pay $2000 more over the petrol i40, though in return there are some key advantages, including better refinement and better efficiency.
The four-cylinder turbo diesel - just 1.7 litres in capacity where the norm is 2.0 litres - is surprisingly quieter than the petrol engine from inside the cabin, while producing 100kW of power and 320Nm of torque.
Opt for the intuitive six-speed automatic and the oil-burner officially sips between 5.6 and 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres (depending on variant). This drops to 4.7L/100km if you choose the base Active model that is a six-speed manual only but bumps torque slightly to 330Nm.
We managed a respectable 6.2L/100km without any conscious effort during a spirited drive through Victoria’s wine-growing region.
With 130kW, the noisier petrol engine is forced to work much harder than the diesel to reach its underwhelming – but class-competitive – 213Nm of torque from 4700rpm. Besides penetrating the cabin’s ambience, the 2.0-litre unit consequently uses more fuel – in our case 10.1L/100km against its official 7.7L/100km figure.
On the road, our first impressions on the launch route is that the i40 also goes some way to improving on the i45’s much criticised road manners.
The i40 Tourer still sets no benchmark for dynamics, however, so keener drivers are likely to gravitate towards the Ford Mondeo or Mazda6. Nonetheless, the i40 Tourer rides and steers faithfully and offers decent grip to satisfy most expectations.
The i40’s cabin marks another positive leap forward over its sedan sibling where the eyes are met with a symmetrical dash that’s aesthetically pleasing, although some buttons, such as the ‘Sport’ button and fan speed controls, are a tad out of reach for the driver.
Trainspotters of cabin plastics will be pleased to know the dash uses rubberised materials for a tactile feel. Rearward visibility is good, although thick windscreen pillars can hinder vision around corners and intersections.
Buyers cross-shopping Hyundai’s mid-size offerings will immediately notice a more-upmarket cabin feel in the latest entrant. The i45’s dowdy, foot-operated park brake makes way for a smart electronic item, the leather trim in the Premium variant feels less like vinyl and it even comes with heated front and rear seats (as well as ventilated fronts), for example. Satellite navigation will not available until first half of next year, however.
Tall adults are unlikely to complain about a lack of space from the rear seat, which has an adjustable back angle but does not fold completely flat to store longer items.
Despite representing just 15 per cent of the medium-car segment, Hyundai says wagons actually account for half the sales of models that are offered in both body styles. The company says these buyers “don’t want to follow the SUV herd”.