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Hyundai Ix35 Reviews

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The unexpected success story in Hyundai's range is the low-key ix35 crossover. Andy Enright takes a look at the latest updated version.

The ix35 is one of the top-selling crossover vehicles in the UK and Hyundai's aiming to consolidate that position with this facelifted car. With updated styling, more generous equipment levels and better steering, it should do just that, assuming you can afford the prices being asked.

Hyundai didn't give the ix35 much of a promotional push when it first appeared back in 2010, yet sales quickly built based on favourable reviews, keen pricing and a head start on many of its later crossover rivals. Indeed, if you were to sum up the reason for the ix35's success, it's due to the fact that it entered the growing crossover market early and was a very good vehicle to boot. There's a subtle but important distinction to make here. This car isn't a Nissan X-Trail or a Land Rover Freelander rival. It's a more wieldy, tarmac-biased vehicle designed to go head to head with cars like the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5. Sales have grown year on year and, rather predictably, Hyundai has gradually teased prices upwards in a bid to see what the market will bear. If you're expecting to find this vehicle priced some way below 'mainstream' rivals, think again. Hyundai knows what this one's worth.

Approach this latest ix35 hoping for a noticeable change in the way it drives and it's likely you'll be disappointed. The updates developed by the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Centre in R??sselheim, Germany have addressed a number of minor issues but the way that the car goes down the road hasn't been at the top of the fix list. So it's much as you were. That means a mix between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models, offering customers a choice based on usage and value. All ix35s still have the extended ground clearance to stop them coming to grief on speed humps and high kerbs. The 2WD versions also bring fuel efficiency benefits. Features such as Downhill Brake Control (which stops the vehicle running away with you when heading down steep gradients) and Hill-Start Assist Control (which ensures a smooth getaway when driving back up) will help should you decide to venture off road. The latest model gets a Flex Steer system. Normal, comfort or sport modes can be selected to adjust the level of power steering support and feedback. There's also marginally softer front suspension. The 1.7 and 2.0-litre diesel engines will prove most popular but there's also a 1.6-litre petrol engine available exclusively in front-wheel drive guise for those on a tighter budget.

You'll need to be fairly familiar with the old ix35 to spot the changes to the exterior of this latest car. The lights have been updated at the front and back but that's about the extent of it. Perhaps facelift is a bit of a stretch. Eye lift maybe. Still, the ix35 has always been one of the more handsome crossover vehicles around and there's plenty of life left in this shape. The size of the ix35 places it in the middle of the compact 4x4 class. It's around 10cm longer than a Nissan Qashqai but smaller than the larger compact 4x4s like the Honda CR-V and Vauxhall Antara. It retains the elevated ride height whether customers choose two or four driven wheels, so getting in and out should be straightforward, as should loading. Decent head and legroom in the back make this a bona fide family car and the build is as sturdy as recent Hyundai efforts have led us to expect.

The engine range available on the ix35 is usefully diverse. A 2.0-litre diesel heads up the range but Hyundai is also doing well with the smaller engines it's offering for the car. A 1.6-litre petrol unit and a 1.7-litre diesel are the big sellers thanks to low running costs and more affordable up-front pricing. Equipment levels are strong, particularly in plush Premium SE trim which gets you a superb Media Pack with sat nav, reversing camera, keyless entry, automatic headlamps, electric folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, heated leather seats and a panoramic sunroof. Hyundai also continues to make capital out of its five-year warranty package which is superior to those offered by almost all of the ix35's competitors.

The 2WD models will bring efficiency savings over the 4x4 ix35 models and the two smaller engines in particular look to be solid performers with regard to running costs. Hyundai promises some improvements over the previous model in terms of economy and emissions. Part of the credit for the parsimony of the ix35 can be laid at the door of Hyundai's ISG Idle Stop and Go technology that turns off the vehicle's engine when it's standing still to save fuel. Residual values have always stood up very well, helping the previous generation ix35 to a 48.3 pence per mile running cost over 3 years/30,000 miles for the entry level diesel. That compares to 50.78ppm for the most cost-effective Nissan Qashqai and 58.74ppm for the equivalent Mazda CX-5. It's still some way shy of the 44.5ppm figure of the Skoda Yeti though.

The Hyundai ix35 offers an intriguing insight into the development of not just a model but also a manufacturer. Hyundai has come to realise that it's no longer the LIDL of the car market, having moved its brand equity higher with every model launch. It's now come to the point where many Hyundai models are more expensive than what you'd expect to pay for a Ford or a Vauxhall. Therefore they get judged to more exacting criteria. The ix35 has, to date, more than measured up. The changes to this latest vehicle have been subtle, so it's probably worth reminding ourselves why it's so successful. It looks reassuringly expensive, the 591-litre boot is around 200 litres bigger than what you'd get with a Nissan Qashqai, there's a fantastic warranty, it's inexpensive to run and it scores well in reliability surveys. It really doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. Build an attractive product and it'll usually sell. Hyundai once again demonstrates that keeping things simple pays dividends.

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