From £16,651
Early drive gives first impressions of the UK-bound Hyundai i40

Our Verdict

Hyundai i40
Family-size Hyundai takes on the Mondeo, Superb and Insignia

The Hyundai i40 takes on the Mondeo, Superb and Insignia. But can it win?

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20 June 2010

What is it?

This is the new Hyundai Sonata saloon, which has just gone on sale in right hand drive form in South Africa after a successful introduction in the US last year. It’s near-identical to the i40 saloon which we’ll be getting next November, although an estate version will go on sale around five months earlier.

There are some key differences to the car we’ve been testing in the roads around Cape Town and the UK car though. Chief amongst them is that Hyundai’s engineers, based in Frankfurt, will be tuning the car to European tastes, including development on UK roads.

This car is a 2.0-litre petrol model, allied to a 6-speed auto ‘box - UK variants will centre mainly on the diesels. There is a new 1.7-litre turbo-diesel with three different outputs planned: 115, bhp, 140bhp and a ‘higher output’ version. The lower powered ones will both put out less than 120 g/km of CO2, so they should work well for company car tax payers.

We’ll also probably get two different petrol engines: direct injection units of 1.6 and 2.0-litre capacity, good for 140 and 180bhp respectively.

Finally, UK cars will get minor design tweaks to the front grille and front and rear LED lights. We’re also promised higher grade plastics than those in South African cars.

What’s it like?

There's no doubt that the new Sonata is a handsome car in the metal, continuing the great strides the Korean manufacturer has made lately with design.

The progess is the same on the inside too, as it has a smart fascia, space comparable to rivals such as the Mondeo and a good deal of comfort.

That said, as it stands it doesn’t feel as robust, or as classy, as the best of the European and Japanese competition and there are plenty of small design and material flourishes that could and should be improved upon by the time it arrives in the UK. Still, the fundamentals of driving position and comfort and blameless.

However, we got the feeling that plenty of attention needs to be paid to dynamics by the time it comes our way too. It’s a comfortable, quiet cruiser and does a good job of staying tied down over large crests and the like. But it’s too easily flummoxed by some of the worst excesses of Cape Town roads where plenty of lumps and bumps filter through into the cabin. As they would do on UK roads too if it stayed unchanged.

It’s not that engaging to steer through corners either. It doesn’t feel edgy or unstable, but vague steering and body lean hardly reward you when you up the pace in the way that a Mondeo or Mazda 6 might.

Should I buy one?

It’s too early to tell whether the Sonata, or i40 as we will get it, is going to persuade you to forgo a Mondeo, Insignia or Passat as a company car choice or private buy.

And for some in this market the badge and lack of a hatch option will always be a reason not to.

That said, prices are likely to start at £16,000, with a £1500 premium for the estate model. That, coupled with Hyundai’s generous equipment levels, smart styling and economical diesels are going to make it quite tempting to company car tax payers, while the five year warranty is going to be an added incentive for private buyers.

If promised improvements are made to dynamics and interior quality it does, at least, deserve to get on your radar.

Chas Hallett

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Join the debate

Comments
16

21 June 2010

A cheap price tag and a 5 year warranty might shift lots of i 10/20/30`s but this is playing in a whole different segment of the market and it leaves alot to be desired in my eyes.

The styling is very coarse and transatlantic, the glitzy grille and fussy bumper detail wont appeal to anyone who buys a euro model on a regular basis. Mixed with iffy plastics and average road manners at present and this is destined to be a "Datsun Laurel"

21 June 2010

I've thousands of these while living in Korea and they look great. This car will be a success in Europe, Hyundai/Kia will eventually dominate the market if they are not doing so alreaady.

21 June 2010

[quote Woigookin]I've thousands of these while living in Korea and they look great. This car will be a success in Europe, Hyundai/Kia will eventually dominate the market if they are not doing so alreaady.[/quote]

Smoke, anyone?

21 June 2010

[quote artill]

[quote Woigookin]I've thousands of these while living in Korea and they look great. This car will be a success in Europe, Hyundai/Kia will eventually dominate the market if they are not doing so alreaady.[/quote]

Smoke, anyone?

[/quote] i want to know what colour his glasses are, i am thinking, rose.

21 June 2010

[quote Vidge 123][quote artill]

[quote Woigookin]I've thousands of these while living in Korea and they look great. This car will be a success in Europe, Hyundai/Kia will eventually dominate the market if they are not doing so alreaady.[/quote]

Smoke, anyone?

[/quote] i want to know what colour his glasses are, i am thinking, rose.[/quote] Ugh..................................yeah, umm, right man! Hyundai/Kia are certainly improving, but the eurbarges still have the edge, just. However, by the time the Hyundai i40 reaches out shores expect that the dynamic and quality issues will have been improved and it should certainly not be crossed off any potential car buyer’s list. By the time the next generation models are developed, I predict that they could well be on par with the best eurobarges. Before you ask, the answer is no, I have never inhaled and my glasses are not rose.

21 June 2010

I have one question... How is it legal to drive with no licence plates at all? (If you look at the pictures the rear of the car has the plate surround but no plate)

I understand that in the US you only need one (back) plate, but I didn't know in South Africa you didn't neeed any plates!

21 June 2010

[quote artill]

[quote Woigookin]I've thousands of these while living in Korea and they look great. This car will be a success in Europe, Hyundai/Kia will eventually dominate the market if they are not doing so alreaady.[/quote]

Smoke, anyone?

[/quote] Lol, definite possibility.

21 June 2010

[quote Autocar]It’s too early to tell whether the Sonata, or i40 as we will get it, is going to persuade you to forgo a Mondeo, Insignia or Passat as a company car choice or private buy. And for some in this market the badge and lack of a hatch option will always be a reason not to.[/quote] OMG what will the VW Passat, Audi A4, BMW 3 series, Rover75, Peugeot 407, Citroen C5 and Honda Accord drivers do, there is no hatch option.

21 June 2010

Hyundai's current line-up of Euro models must be the only range of cars where there are no family resemblances from one model to the next - apart from the utter blandness. And while the i40 doesn't look nondescript it appears a mismatch of design cues from other marque's motors! From one extreme to the other.

21 June 2010

[quote Citytiger][quote Autocar]It’s too early to tell whether the Sonata, or i40 as we will get it, is going to persuade you to forgo a Mondeo, Insignia or Passat as a company car choice or private buy. And for some in this market the badge and lack of a hatch option will always be a reason not to.[/quote] OMG what will the VW Passat, Audi A4, BMW 3 series, Rover75, Peugeot 407, Citroen C5 and Honda Accord drivers do, there is no hatch option.[/quote]

Nobody in their right mind has a Rover 75 - I haven't even seen one in ages. No Volkswagen or Audi driver would replace their Krautmobile with a Hyundai - and the BMW crowd would be even less likely to buy a Hyundai. Most of it's down to badge-snobbery, which is a pity - the big Hyundai Genesis seems like a genuinely capable car. Isn't the Citroen C5 a hatch? Likewise Pug 407?

Mind you, having taken a look through the pictures, I can see why no-one is going to buy this thing: it's hideous! Interior terrible, but the exterior is even worse.

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