Hyundai ix35 GLS

The east is doing something right. Not only have they drastically refreshed the the Kia and Hyundai vehicle offering, but also seem to be doing a good job at what they release. This is partly due to the fact that they are making huge inroads in the US market, and will continue to create fuel-efficient, reliable vehicles for the US, that US carmakers can’t compete with on price.

This said, I dragged my family man persona over to Hyundai after the ix35grabbed my attention on the road one morning. (it also features on the front page of August Car Magazine but this is neither here nor there)

The 2010 ix35 replaces the Tucson, and as you might know, is built on the same platform as the new Kia Sorento. This is not all bad news, as they have kept design and engineering costs down, which related to sale price.

The cost of the vehicle is definitely a strong point. I drove the 2.0 litre GLS ix35 natural aspirated 6 Speed Automatic (2×4). The GLS specification is probably what most buyers will go for as it comprises of nearly every amenity a much more luxurious german marquee would provide at a much higher price.

Looks? Well, that’s always a personal issue, but it’s a lot better looking than the previous Tucson. Smoother lines, and a “gaping whale-shark” type front end, with light clusters that flare upwards front and rear. It’s called their new “fluidic design language.” So it’s not the ugliest specimen in the world, it has been compared to the new revised Porsche Cayenne…but that’s like comparing Liz Hurley to the troll under the bridge.

Engine? Well, to be very frank, I’m not a huge fan of the 2.0 litre. It seems to struggle and the gearbox hunts for gears when driving uphill, making it sound incredibly whiney (something like a blender on full tilt they day after new years) It puts out 122Kw@6000RPM and 197Nm@4600 (There you have the problem – the Nm being only slightly up from the Kw) This is going to make it a real slow-coach to drive when fully laden. I’d probably opt for the 2.4 Petrol (130kw and 227 Nm) or the 2.0Diesel with 130kw and 383Nm. The latter really is a much better combination in my books. Unfortunately they didn’t have one to drive, but from my experience, a car with this much weight needs more torque than 197Nm.

An interesting touch is the new “ECO-Coach”. A system designed to monitor your driving style and tell you either when to change (in the manual) or whether you are driving economically or not, using either green, white or red annotations of eco lettering in the information binnacle. Sounds a bit preachy to me.

Ride and Handling? Featuring a new multi-link rear suspension and Macpherson strut front set up, allows not only weight and cabin space savings, but also pretty good handling. It really performs well, but this could be because of the lower ride height and firmer suspension set up. I would definitely make it known, this is a soft roader (read crossover) with acceptable ground clearance to either ramp the sidewalk in Sandton or cross the occasional dirt track at the game reserve. So please don’t be fooled by the HDC (Hill Decent Control) and venture off behind a Landy off the beaten track.

Fit and Features? Here’s where the Hyundai really impressed. The GLS designation gives a host of standard features; leather seats, Dual Zone climate control, MP3 and Aux Jack, Satellite controls on the steering wheel, and reverse park camera,which is built into the rear-view mirror. The reverse camera will come in handy because the rear window is about the size of a window in a shed. Materials seems to be of a high quality with an excellent fit (no panel gaps or rattles) The interior also seems of a durable material when considering it might be for a mom with kids, there’s about 6 cupholders, child lock windows and doors, and the reverse camera really comes in handy here. Speaking of using this car for a family, there really is a lot of space in the back seats. I’m quite a tall guy, and there’s still ample legroom and headroom in the rear. The tailgate is also not too high when considering shopping/prams/dead hookers might make there way in the boot. There’s also a parcel cover and mesh parcel hook-set which can be used to tie down items from rolling around in the back. Novel.

Safety and seating? It was easy to find a comfortable position, with manual controls for front seats, as well as tilt and height adjustable steering wheel.

On the safety front, there are 6 airbags (front, side and head) as well as seat belt pre-tensioners on the front seats, active head restraints and the usual standard side impact protection beams and crumple zones. It seems that the ix35 scored the highest rating of 5stars in the stringent Euro NCAP front and side impact crash tests.

Brakes are sharp and responsive, without too much mushy pedal feel. The GLS spec gives you ABS, EBD and ESP (Electronic Stability Progamme) A nice touch is the emergency braking lights which flicker to alert the tailgating Datsun behind you that you’re stopping. And fast.

Overall, what makes this car a real winner is the pricing. The 2.0l GLS 4×2 Automatic retails for R275,000. My choice would probably be the 2.0 Diesel Manual at R300,000. The great part – no massive options list, which is a welcome sight!

This is exceptional value, if you consider you’d have to fork out quite a bit more for a Freelander or Rav4, or even an equivalent station wagon with the same standard features the ix35 offers.

This all said…here comes the spanner in the proverbial wheel. They are in incredibly high demand. So highly in fact that the dealership in Sandton had 150 of the 2.0 models on order, and 65 Diesel models, and they’re not exactly dropping off truckloads of them every day. Sad really, because many of these people will drop off and settle for something else because of the extensive waiting list.