Four-wheel drive only kicks in when needed
SUV style and ability at hatchback costs
Benchmark running costs and list price are standouts
134bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel is linked to six-speed manual
Lots of grey plastic - but plenty of kit too
First DriveThe 2014 version of Hyundai's ix35 soft-roader is a good-looking choice for style-focused buyers, although it lacks the driving enjoyment of some rivals
First DriveA mild refresh ensures the Hyundai ix35 remains a strong option among the soft-roader frontrunners
What is it?
This is the top-spec, four-wheel drive Hyundai ix35 Premium, complete with 134bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, six-speed manual gearbox and multiple market sector targets.
Although it is (intentionally) designed to look like an SUV, Hyundai wants to target the crossover segment whilst also taking sales from hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus by offering competitive pricing.
What’s it like?
High equipment levels - Bluetooth, heated seats and parking sensors - are standard even on the base trim and low price is key to the iX35's appeal, because in action it does everything well and nothing brilliantly.
The part-time four-wheel drive system is 100 per cent front wheel drive in normal conditions and can send up to 50 per cent of the power to the rear wheels if any slip is detected. This means that there is little compromise in emissions and economy for the extra driven wheels, and at just £1000 over the 2WD variant it's expected to be popular.
Having four-wheel drive does prevent loss of traction out of damp junctions, but otherwise makes little difference to the ix35's handling in normal circumstances, which is faithful to steering input and predictably will slide into understeer if pushed too hard, and tighten its line again if you come off the throttle.
Ride quality is firm, and can be choppy over undulating surfaces but it copes well enough on the usual rutted tarmac and rarely feels uncomfortable. The diesel engine is well suited to the ix35 and offers useful levels of performance but the noise intruding through the bulkhead into the cabin is very noticeable.
Should I buy one?
The ix35 is a tempting prospect thanks to its affordability, decent interior space and quality, as well as the sharp looks. But it is not a new niche, nor does it offer anything more than most other small SUVs excepting its benchmark running costs and list price.
It doesn't set new boundaries, but it does offer SUV style and ability at hatchback costs, which will be tempting enough for many.