ix35 arrives in style for Hyundai

With Hyundai's ix35 going on sale this week, STEVE WALKER looks at the stylish newcomer.When Hyundai launched its Tucson in 2004, you could count its direct rivals on the fingers of two hands.

With Hyundai's ix35 going on sale this week, STEVE WALKER looks at the stylish newcomer.

When Hyundai launched its Tucson in 2004, you could count its direct rivals on the fingers of two hands. Back then, the market for compact 4x4 vehicles hadn't yet gone supernova and buyers interested in this type of vehicle had a comparatively easy task deciding which model to plump for.

Hop in your Tardis and fast-forward to 2009, the year that the Tucson's replacement, the ix35, was unveiled. Suddenly, sock removal is essential for anyone trying to assign a digit to all the various compact 4x4 contenders. If you include the growing cluster of crossover models that split the difference between 4x4 and family hatchback, you'd need another pair of hands altogether. To stand out in this crowded marketplace, the ix35 will need to be special.

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Not all ix35 models will be four-wheel-drive. As has increasingly become the case with crossovers and compact 4x4s designed mainly for road use, the entry-level ix35s will be front-wheel-drive only. This means the extra traction to help you out in slippery conditions is lost but all ix35s still have the extended ground clearance to stop them coming to grief on speed humps and high kerbs. The 2WD versions also bring fuel-efficiency benefits.

The size of the ix35 places it in the middle of the compact 4x4 class. It's about 10cm longer than a Nissan Qashqai but smaller than the larger compact 4x4s like the Honda CR-V and Chevrolet's Captiva. It retains the elevated ride height whether customers choose two or four driven wheels, so getting in and out should be straightforward as should loading. Decent head and legroom in the back make this a bona fide family car and the build is as sturdy as recent Hyundai efforts have led us to expect.

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The engine range available on the ix35 is usefully diverse. A pair of 2.0-litre units - one petrol and one diesel - head up the range but Hyundai has big hopes for smaller engines it's offering with the car. A 1.6-litre petrol unit and a 1.7-litre diesel, joing the range in autumn, look set to be big sellers thanks to low running costs and affordable up-front pricing.

The 2WD models will bring efficiency savings over the 4x4 ix35 models and the two smaller engines in particular look to be solid performers with regard to running costs. Emissions of 149g/km for the 1.6-litre petrol and 139g/km for the 1.7-litre diesel are good going for a compact 4x4. Part of the credit for the parsimony of the ix35 can be laid at the door of Hyundai's ISG Idle Stop and Go technology that turns off the vehicle's engine when it's standing still to save fuel.

The market for compact 4x4 vehicles has undergone some changes in recent years, the biggest being the huge increase in the number of different models vying for the attention of consumers.

As Hyundai's representative in this increasingly influential sector, the ix35 has a lot riding on it and it looks to be yet another mid-sized 4x4 that's worthy of consideration.


PRICE: �16,495 to �20,745 on the road

PERFORMANCE: 2.0 petrol, 0-62mph 10.4 seconds, top speed 114mph; 2.0 diesel 2WD 9.4 seconds, 113mph (4WD 10.2 seconds, 112mph)

MPG: combined, 2.0 petrol 37.7; 2.0 diesel 2WD 51.4 (4WD) 49.6)

EMISSIONS: 147g/km-177g/km

INSURANCE GROUP: 15E to 19E (out of 50)

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE? Length 4,400mm; width 1,835mm; height 1,680mm

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