"Practical, cheap to run and good to drive, the Hyundai i40 is a top-notch car for all the family"
Hyundai's big push upmarket was helped along by the stylish and practical Hyundai i40 saloon – a family car with style and efficient engines. Like most Hyundais nowadays, it isn’t cheap, but you do get a loads of equipment and accessories as standard for your money – it definitely gives the Volkswagen Passat some real competition.
The i40 comes in three main specifications – entry-level Active, mid-range Style and top-of-the-range Premium –all fitted with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic headlights as standard. The most economical model is the 1.7-litre diesel, but the i40 is fun to drive as well, and easily matches the likes of the Peugeot 508 for enjoyment, if it does lag behind the Ford Mondeo.
Interior quality is good, built from quality materials and overall, the i40 is an appealing purchase. If you need more than 500 litres of boot space on offer, then there's a Tourer estate also available, which gives the same good looks but in a more practical body. Even more attractive is Hyundai's super-competitive triple-care package, which includes a five-year/unlimited mileage warranty, servicing and RAC roadside assistance – all as standard on all models.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The i40 is a pretty cheap family car to run, with economical engines, cheap servicing and reasonable insurance costs across the range. The 1.7-litre diesel engine is the most economical option, offering combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of just 113g/km. In fact, the higher-powered model of the same engine still returns 62.8mpg and emits 119g/km, so doesn’t cost anymore in annual road tax. However, all these figures are for Hyundai i40 Blue Drive diesel models. If you buy an i40 without Blue Drive, mpg will tumble to 43mpg and the emissions jump up to 134g/km. Likewise, the 1.6-litre petrol Blue Drive returns combined fuel economy of 47.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 140g/km, which also drops to 42.8mpg and raises to 155g/km without Blue Drive. Choose wisely, though, and it can be very good value indeed.
Interior & comfort
Given that the i40 is the most luxurious Hyundai available in the UK, it is unsurprisingly comfortable and calm during long drives. It copes well with the UK's increasingly rough roads, even when fitted with the firmer optional sports suspension. But if you want to maintain that level of comfort, give the 18-inch alloy wheels a miss as they make matters much bumpier.
The car's dimensions are still sleek enough to make parking and city driving relatively stress free, while the interior offers a driving position with lots of adjustment to get comfortable. All the seats have decent back and side support, but are cushioned enough to keep you comfy over long distances.
Wind and road noise are almost non-existent inside the car, with the diesel engines actually being fairly hushed. You get a lot of equipment as standard, with even entry-level cars being fitted with Audi-style daytime running lights, a heating system that detects windscreen fogging, air-conditioning, reclining rear seats and a leather steering wheel.
Practicality & boot space
The i40 offers 525 litres of boot space, which is a little less than you get in a Ford Mondeo. Fold down the back seats and that expands the boot space, but if you really need that bit of extra space then you’re better off getting the Hyundai i40 Tourer estate, which offers a massive 1,719 litres of space with its back seats folded down flat. The saloon model's boot opening is a bit narrow, so loading big objects can be somewhat tricky. Inside the car, you get lots of useful storage cubbies and compartments positioned around the interior. There's also loads of headroom and legroom, and enough overall space for five adults to sit comfortably inside.
Reliability & safety
Hyundai has made the i40 very safe, including driver and passenger airbags, rear curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control (ESP) and hill-hold assist as standard equipment. If you go for the Assist Pack, too, then extra safety systems are added, such as lane assist to steer the car back into the lane when you drift out of line. No wonder the i40 secured the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests by scoring an excellent 92 per cent for adult protection.
Hyundai's known for making reliable cars, too, so it's disappointing to see it drop seven places in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's manufacturers rankings to fall out of the top 10 and place 14th out of 32. But Hyundai put their money where their mouth is by including an excellent five-year unlimited mileage warranty that covers most possible issues and is transferable to subsequent owners. So, you can rest assured that the i40 is unlikely to go wrong and when you’re behind the wheel – and it certainly feels very well constructed.
Engines, drive & performance
The i40 is good to drive, and while it may not live up to the standards of the Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb, it will suit many drivers down to the ground. Of the two engines available, we’d go for the 1.7-litre CRDi diesel for its better blend of efficiency and performance. It comes in 114bhp or 134bhp models, with the latter accelerating from 0-62mph in a reasonable 10.3 seconds. The 133bhp 1.6-litre petrol, meanwhile, does the same in 11.3 seconds and has a top speed of 122mph.
For a little extra cash you can also have Hyundai's Blue Drive technology – with stop-start fitted to increase fuel economy. The steering is generally accurate but does have odd moments that make the i40 feel strangely cumbersome when driving through some corners. The suspension is generally soft, but if you get the optional sports suspension, the ride is harder but is never uncomfortable, even on rough roads. We’d recommend sticking with the manual gearbox as the automatic both lowers performance and reduces fuel economy.
Price, value for money & options
Yes, you will now have to pay more money to buy an i40 – or any Hyundai for that matter – but you do get a lot of equipment for your money. Certainly, anyone upgrading from the old i40 won’t feel short-changed. If you go for the middle-of-the-range Style spec, for instance, you’ll get sat-nav fitted as standard, while the top-spec Premium also includes 18-inch alloy wheels, heated seats, touchscreen sat-nav, reversing camera, panoramic sun roof, keyless entry and start, and leather upholstery.
Thankfully, Hyundai resale values are considerably better now, so you can expect to get a fair amount of your money back in the used car market when you come to make a second-hand deal – and if that's within the five-year warranty, the unlimited-mileage triple-care package goes with the car to the new owner, including roadside assistance and free vehicle health checks. That's quite a package, by anyone's standards.