What is it?
A drive in any modern Hyundai will tell you that the company is serious about making its cars ride and handle well. We’ve tried two versions of its upcoming i40 big family wagon, still in prototype form, to assess how it might do when it goes on sale.
What's it like?
Given they’re early-build cars, one has to make allowances for fit and finish. For what it’s worth, though, that’s pretty good already. The cabin design and layout are tidy, too.
Hyundai has two i40 chassis settings in development. One it calls ‘ride’ and the other ‘handling’, but they’re both slightly different takes on the same upper-medium theme. The thinking is that one, the other, both, or a compromise could reach market.
We tried the ‘handling’ car first. Its steering is consistently too light, albeit accurate, and it fidgets a little on pockmarked town roads. The upshot is mostly well contained body movements at higher speeds. It fails, though, to absorb bumps in a ‘premium’ fashion. When you hit a pothole, you hear and feel it.
The ‘ride’ settings mostly counter that. You feel bumps less and hear a lower-frequency noise, more akin to how a Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat might ride. That makes a difference to how expensive it feels.
The ‘ride’ variant has better steering weight, too, at the expense of responsiveness; it’s rather sticky. Also worse is higher-speed body control; the ‘handling’ car is quite enjoyable, in its way. The ‘ride’ car is flat footed.
Should I buy one?
With a bit of tweaking, either of the settings could be competitive, but some kind of combination would be ideal. The 1.7-litre diesel is louder than, say, a Mondeo oil-burner but is within the limits of class acceptability.
Given the right tweaks and good pricing and warranty, the i40 could be another highly competitive Hyundai.
Hyundai i40 1.7 CRDi estate
Price: £18,000 (est); Top speed: 115mph (est); 0-62mph: 10.0sec (est); Economy: 55mpg (est); CO2: 119g/km (est); Kerb weight: 1495kg; Engine: 4cyls, 1685cc, turbodiesel; Power: 134bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 240lb ft at 1250-2750rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual