Perhaps wisely, Hyundai hasn’t tampered too dramatically with the ix35’s proven formula. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to spot any significant styling changes, bar new front and rear lights.
If our pre-production test car is anything to go by, the modifications inside the cabin are fairly subtle too. That’s not necessarily a criticism. As before, the ix35’s cabin benefits from a lack of clutter and fuss. It reiterates the message that this is a no-nonsense, functional car. Everything is as it should be: the driving position is good, the seats comfortable and visibility acceptable, albeit hampered at roundabouts and junctions by the chunky A-pillars.
Most cockpit controls are in intuitive positions so you don’t have to think twice about locating them while on the move. We fumbled with the button that adjusts the Flex Steer system, which is partly obscured by the steering wheel. How often you’ll feel the need to toggle between its three modes while on the move, however, is a moot point.
On the road, the 1.7-litre diesel pulls adequately when mated to the six-speed manual, although it often needs to be worked fairly hard to make quick progress. Due to that, it isn’t the quietest of units.
Even fitted with optional 18in alloys, our pre-production ix35 rode very competently over patched-up roads in the Czech countryside. The firm ride of the original car was mentioned by our road testers, but this new version is fitted with softer front suspension mounts to reduce noise and vibration. Although it would take a back-to-back test with an older ix35 to prove conclusively, it felt forgiving over imperfect surfaces like the ones we have grown used to in Britain.
When we tested the car in 2010, our testers also commented on vague steering. Hyundai has tweaked the system to give a quicker response to driver inputs and deliver more feedback. Precisely how much interaction you desire depends on which of three modes you choose from the Flex Steer system. Normal, comfort or sport modes can be selected and adjust the level of power steering support and feedback.
Unlike some rivals’ systems, there is a noticeable difference between each mode, and it’s a system that could find favour with families who have two or more designated drivers, each with different driving preferences.
But don’t think for one minute that prodding the button through to the ‘sport’ setting will unlock all manner of apex-clipping dynamic delights. Flex Steer doesn’t make any changes to the suspension or chassis settings, and harry this two-wheel-drive version of the ix35 through a corner and you’ll experience a surfeit of body roll and understeer that brings you sharply back to reality.