What is it?
The 2014 version of Hyundai's ix35 soft-roader. Visually the ix35 looks more stylish than ever, with its high front end and prominent Hyundai badging alluding to the brand's continued move upmarket.
The version we tested was a near top-spec Premium model, which came with 18-inch alloy wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights, keyless entry and go, cruise control, rear parking sensors and heated seats. It costs £27,205 as standard, with the metallic paint on our car taking the total price to £27,725, still below the price of similar 4WD rivals like the Nissan Qashqai.
Inside the ix35 looks and feels premium in most respects. The materials used are of a good quality and it feels well put together. The centre console is a little low for our liking, as it's hard to reach, but most controls are otherwise easily accessed. The seats are comfortable but could do with being more supportive, especially if you're off-roading.
There's plenty of space on offer, with the standard 591-litre boot extending to 1436 litres with the rear seats down. That's more than the seats-down capacity of the previous model, and also more than rivals including the Nissan Qashqai and the Kia Sportage.
What's it like?
Quite competent – the ix35 does everything you expect it to do. We tested the ix35 at the Millbrook Proving Ground, rather than on public roads, but the centre's alpine hill handling course is supposed to emulate the majority of driving conditions you might find on UK roads.
Under these conditions we found the ix35 is capable of tackling rough roads and twisting routes with ease, and the 2.0-litre CRDi diesel engine we tried held its own for most of the time.
Peak torque of 236lb ft arrives between 1800-2500rpm, so when pushed the engine runs out of steam quite soon. It's also quite loud and there's quite a lot of noise intrusion into the cabin above 50mph.
The six-speed automatic transmission fitted to our test car was good enough but at times it changed down far too early. On hill ascents you'll find the manual override quicker than waiting for the gearbox to select an appropriate gear.
The ride is also unusually firm, especially at low speeds, and it's something we suspect would quickly become an annoyance rather than a mere distraction over long journeys.
That said, for the sort of routes the average ix35 owner will cover, the car is more than adequate. We'd hope for a little more grunt from the engine at times but overall it's a relatively capable, relatively economical choice. Hyundai says this version of the ix35 can return up to 41.5mpg on a combined cycle, and CO2 emissions of 179g/km.
Handling-wise the 2014 ix35 feels well planted on the road and it's only when really pushing the envelope that you'll run into understeer. For the most part the car's steering is light, relaxed and accurate, although there's predictably little feedback through the wheel.
Should I buy one?
If style is at the forefront of your cost considerations for a soft-roader, then this is a likely candidate for your shopping list. There's less dynamic ability here than offered by rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, but the new ix35 is nonetheless an improvement over the old model.