Hilton Holloway
8 December 2010

What is it?

This is Hyundai’s first serious entry into Europe’s hard-fought Mondeo market. Based on the same all-new platform as the US-market Sonata, the i40 will come as an estate (from April 2011) and then a saloon (from autumn).

There won’t be an i40 hatchback because, aside from the UK, Europeans overwhelmingly buy estates, which make up some 65 per cent of this market segment.

The i40’s exterior is modern and striking, though the deeply sculpted sides and odd, curved D-pillar detail are rather less restrained than is the norm in this segment.

Hyundai engineers say they benchmarked the i40 against the Volkswagen Passat and Toyota Avensis. A longer wheelbase than a Passat ensures greater interior space.

The company is also claiming the i40’s body shell is 11 per cent torsionally stiffer and 23 per cent stiffer in bending than the Passat. A significant 62 per cent of the i40’s structure is made of very high-strength steels, which should pay off for ride and handling as well as safety.

What’s it like?

Even five months before the start of series production (we drove the 17th and 25th i40 estate models to be built), the i40 is surprisingly good.

We tried both the diesel engine and the petrol engine at Hyundai’s Namyang proving ground, albeit in heavily disguised development cars.

There are two 1.7-litre diesel engines, offering 113bhp and 134bhp, with the lower-tune motor offering CO2 emissions of just 113g/km and the more powerful one 124g/km. In 2012 a more powerful twin-turbo version of this engine will be launched.

While the new the 2.0-litre GDI direct-injection petrol engine pulls strongly at high revs, there’s some way to go on engine refinement, as Hyundai acknowledges. However, it is claimed to return around 50mpg, significantly better than rivals can manage.

Even at this stage, however, it’s clear that the 1.7-litre diesel engine will probably be the power plant of choice. Already more refined than the GDI engine, the diesel also pulls more readily from low revs and is well matched to both the six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearboxes.

On the high-speed bowl, the i40 was very stable and well planted at 100mph, which bodes well for long days on the UK motorway network, though it wasn’t possible to estimate the likely effect of side winds.

On the handling circuit, the Hyundai was more than competent, refusing to understeer when pressed on long, fast bends. The steering feel and weighting also held up on the fast curves, allowing the driver to make accurate inputs as the corner’s radius shifted. It’s likely that the car’s super-stiff body is paying dividends here. Overall, the i40 appeared to hit a very happy medium between comfort and alertness.

The i40 also benefits from a wide and well laid out cockpit, with plenty of storage space and an attractive centre console that is dominated by a large control wheel. The material quality and the attention to detail (especially the mix of chrome highlights and satin finishes) look to be up there with the best Europe can offer.

Rear seat passengers are particularly well provided for, with excellent rear legroom and good headroom. The boot is also sizeable, although it’s not very deep between the load bay floor and side windows. There’s room for a full-size spare wheel, though.

Should I buy one?

Hyundai acknowledges that the European Mondeo sector has shrunk dramatically over the past few years and it will be tough for it to break into the market. But it feels it needs a car of this size to compete, especially for fleet orders.

These pre-production i40s were extremely promising: distinctive and spacious, with a fine interior and excellent interior packaging. Even the handling felt impressively European, although we were testing the car on its home ground.

We’ll know more next spring, but the i40 looks very competitive.

 

Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

Price: tba; Top speed: tba; 0-81mph: 18.4sec [only figure given]; Economy: tba; CO2: 124g/km; Kerb weight: 1485kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1688cc, turbodiesel; Power 134bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 243lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: six-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
21

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 40 weeks ago

I am sure this will be a thoroughly competent vehicle with good all round abilities but I get the feeling it just isn't going to excite being bench marked on the Passat and Avensis. That said it is a solid winning formula which should generate solid sales for them.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 40 weeks ago

I predicted that the Koreans were going to elevate quality and become a force to be reckoned with, taking on VW, Ford etc head on in these pages. Many laughed. Now it seems that my prediction was correct. Now that they appear to have got the design and quality right, how about some excitement to go with it Hyundai and Kia?

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 40 weeks ago

weenedonpetrol wrote:
I predicted that the Koreans were going to elevate quality and become a force to be reckoned with, taking on VW, Ford etc head on in these pages. Many laughed.

if you did I remember neither the prediction nor anyone laughing. Unless you have been living under a rock for ten years, you will know that Korea and China have been getting their act together and will eventually subsume the global motor industry, same as they're doing in every other sector. They have everything on their side, such as a cheap labour force of unparalleled size (which incidentally includes few safeguards for workers and near zero understanding by employees of their rights, making it more a slave labour force), comparatively few safety control mechanisms, money to buy the top Western engineers and designers, and so on and so forth.

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 40 weeks ago

ThwartedEfforts wrote:
making it more a slave labour force

And even thats changing, I don't see anyone wearing shackles in Zilina

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_GpM48-NR4[/youtube]

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 40 weeks ago

This could go down a treat with fleets. The 113bhp diesel will be up against a bluemotion Passat, but is more powerful than the 1.6 TDI, likely to be cheaper and better equiped, plus it has a 5 year warranty. I just wish they would change the design of the badge, it's not that I have a problem with it being a Hyundai, I simply don't like the design of the H badge.

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 39 weeks ago

The Apprentice wrote:

ThwartedEfforts wrote:
making it more a slave labour force

And even thats changing, I don't see anyone wearing shackles in Zilina

apologies, I should have been clearer: I didn't mean to group South Korea with the PRC in a rant about slave labour, the former being a constitutional democracy and the latter being, well, not. The Chinese manufs. were the targets of my accusation, not Hyundai or Kia.

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 39 weeks ago

ThwartedEfforts wrote:
Korea and China have been getting their act together and will eventually subsume the global motor industry, same as they're doing in every other sector. They have everything on their side, such as a cheap labour force
In the UK most car parts factories employ large numbers of Poles, Slovaks and Baltic states employees in the lowest paid jobs on shift work. They tend to live in groups in rented housing, that being the only way to make a living on wages of under £15k viable in the UK and save or send money home. Many are well educated but as in their countries a doctor earns about £600 a month they earn enough here to save to build a house back home. Korea already dominates the worlds shipbuilding industry but is being overtaken by China. Whereas it is mainly cheaper lower tech goods they design now China already makes parts for Boeing and Airbus plus its own design of regional jet. We can look forward to being inundated with Chinese tourists in the next twenty years as they come to see or quaint country that used to actually make things.

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 39 weeks ago

Kia/Hyundai are automotive magnolia.

Made for people without a pulse. It will sell by the thousand I am sure.

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 39 weeks ago

jonfortwo wrote:

Kia/Hyundai are automotive magnolia.

Made for people without a pulse. It will sell by the thousand I am sure.

yes jon, that's correct, only dead people buy Kia/Hyundai. Seriously though, even if that was actually the case, we are considering the likelihood of it not being the case for much longer.

In addition, because the notion of a particular car or badge having 'character' or 'soul' is unverifiable romanticised guff, once Lucky Fellow Nice Motor Co. Ltd. poach the design team responsible for whichever Alfa Romeo it is you're currently lusting after, you and the other 29 Alfa buyers worldwide will suddenly appreciate that heritage and pedigree go right out the window when the car looks identical, goes the same but is cheaper and comes with a seven year warranty.

That assumes of course that the window in an Italian car is actually working - and there's another stereotype that's no longer true. See?

Re: Hyundai i40 1.7 CDTi Estate

3 years 39 weeks ago

jonfortwo wrote the following post at Dec 12, 2010 3:50 PM:

Kia/Hyundai are automotive magnolia.

Made for people without a pulse. It will sell by the thousand I am sure.

You could say the same about Toyota and Nissan both have been very boring and dull for a long time and even Mazda and Mitsubishi were the same . Kia and Hyandai at the stage they are at are a lot more stylish than any off the Japs cars when they were at this stage and the Kia Pro-C,eed is and very classy and stylish 3door coupe . I think Kia have a more diverse range than Hyandai . The Soul is different and funky , The Venga is stylish and very good the Cee,d is very good tooand then there is the Sportage which is very very good and very nice indeed and the Soronto is the same and they all have 7year warrenty,s

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