Hyundai crossover has iX factor

Hyundai's new ix35 crossover combines image and style with great value, says ANDY RUSSELL.Every now and again a car comes along that does wonders for a brand's image.

Hyundai's new ix35 crossover combines image and style with great value, says ANDY RUSSELL.

Every now and again a car comes along that does wonders for a brand's image. Riding high on scrappage sales of its bread-and-butter i10, i20 and i30 hatchbacks, the Korean car-maker now has the tasty ix35 crossover to spice up its line-up.

It made me think back to the late Nineties when Hyundai gave its image some real pizzazz with the Coupe, which has only just come to the end of a long and successful run.


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But while the Coupe was not the most practical car, the ix35 crosses boundaries, aiming to appeal to a mass market with smart, sport utility vehicle styling and multi-purpose vehicle practicality in an attractively-priced car that takes up the space of a medium-sized family hatchback.

The ix35's athletic styling, which introduces Hyundai's new 'fluidic sculpture' design, certainly drew admirers, among them BMW and Mercedes-Benz drivers. Whether they would buy one remains to be seen, but the fact they noticed the ix35 bodes well.

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What also attracted them was the price, staring at just �16,495 and topping out at �20,745 and the fact they are loaded with kit as standard.

At launch, two 2.0-litre engines are offered - 161bhp petrol and 134bhp turbo diesel - with a 140bhp 1.6 petrol and 113bhp 1.7 turbo diesel, both with a stop-start system to cut the engine in stationary traffic, coming later this year.

Diesels will account for most sales, offered with two and four-wheel drive but the former is expected to find favour with 90pc of buyers.

The diesel may not be the most powerful 2.0-litre unit but has plenty of get-up-and-go with a free-revving, lively nature when you make use of the light-shifting six-speed manual gearbox but it is boomy under hard acceleration and even cruising you are always aware of it in the background. Given the price it is something many owners will live with. But the fuel consumption was disappointing and I never bettered 37mpg on the trip computer. That said, after 250 miles, the gauge was still reading three-quarters.

Four-wheel drive models transfer some of the power to the rear wheels in slippery conditions but can be locked in 4x4 mode to spread torque equally at speeds up to 25mph.

The ride is firm and sensitive to poor road surfaces at city speeds, and a little floaty over undulations on country roads, but the ix35 boasts nimble handling with the variable-assistance power steering weighting up nicely at speed.

Hyundai is marketing the ix35 as an alternative to the family hatch and it stacks up with plenty of head and legroom while the higher seating position means good views. The boot is huge at 591 litres, although there is some intrusion from the wheelarches, and there is useable stowage space in and around the spare wheel under the floor. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and drop flat to open up a 1,436-litre load bay.

The dashboard is stylish and modern with logical switches while deeply-recessed dials and metallic-effect highlights give it a sporty edge but, while the plastics are nicely textured, their hardness shows how Hyundai has kept the price down, but at least they feel durable. The driving position has good adjustment for seat and steering wheel but visibility is hindered by small back windows so just as well rear parking sensors are standard across the range.

What also took the edge off my test car was that the switch for the electric panoramic sunroof had broken while the audio system kept freezing causing the large display screen for the optional touch-screen satellite-navigation system to display only a juddering Hyundai logo although I suspect this would be an isolated fault and you have the reassurance of a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.

The ix35 is a lot of car for the money with Style models including 17in alloy wheels, stability control, air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity with voice recognition, heated front and rear seats, downhill brake control, electric windows and heated door mirrors, six airbags, hillstart assist control, remote central locking with alarm, steering wheel audio controls, stereo-radio CD with MP3 and iPod connectivity, reverse parking sensors and a trip computer. Premium adds 18in alloys, panoramic sunroof, automatic headlights, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, electric folding door mirrors, keyless entry and

ignition, glass, rain-sensing wipers, part-leather upholstery and roof rails. Full leather seats are part of a �700 package while �800 buys

sat-nav, a rear view parking

camera and a seven-speaker sound system.

With its great looks and generous standard equipment, the ix35 is certainly attractive and while it may not be as refined as some rivals at these prices you'll make some allowances.

HYUNDAI ix35 CRDI 4WD PREMIUM MANUAL

Price: �20,745 (range from �16,495)

Engine: 1,995cc, 134bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 11.3 seconds; top speed 112mph

MPG: Urban 40.4; extra urban 54.3; combined 47.9

Emissions: 154g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 22pc

Insurance group: 19E (out of 50)

Warranty: Five years/unlimited mileage

Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,410mm: width (exc door mirrors) 1,820mm; height 1,670mm

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