"Practical, cheap to run and good to drive, the Hyundai i40 is a fine car for all the family"
A stylish yet practical family car, Hyundai continued its drive into big, bold car design with the i40 saloon. It's sharp looks turn heads and its efficient engines mean it's a good choice for company car buyers, too. As with other recent Hyundai models that continue to move the brand upmarket, the i40 can be a bit pricey as a result. However, standard equipment levels are high so at least the price tag doesn’t feel unjustified. It now certainly gives rivals like the Volkswagen Passat a run for their money. You can get the i40 in three specifications – Active, Style and Premium – with all fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic lights as standard. The 1.7-litre diesel engine is the best for economy if you want to keep running costs down, returning 62mpg while being powerful and responsive. The i40 is a fun car to drive, too, and while it may not match the Ford Mondeo on winding country roads, it's easily on par with the likes of the Peugeot 508. Inside, the quality is improved, with much better materials. Overall, the i40 is a strong package, with a Tourer estate also available for those with a need for more than 500 litres of boot space. Even more attractive is Hyundai's super-competitive triple-care package, which includes a five-year/unlimited mileage warranty, servicing and RAC roadside assistance as standard.
Along with Kia, Hyundai is one of the most improved car brands over the last decade, and that includes the way its cars drive, too. The i40 may still be beaten for pure driving enjoyment by the Skoda Superb or Ford Mondeo, but it holds its own, despite bouts of vague steering that can make the car bizarrely heavy in some corners. You get two engines to choose from, and we recommend the 1.7-litre CRDi diesel, which offers the best balance of performance and fuel economy. It's available with either 114bhp or 134bhp, with the latter going from 0-62mph in a decent 10.3 seconds. As you’d expect, opting for the six-speed automatic gearbox reduces fuel economy and lowers performance, so we’d suggest sticking with the manual. The 133bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine goes from 0-62 in 11.3 seconds, up to a top speed of 122mph. If you spend an extra few hundred quid, you can also get Hyundai's Blue Drive, which boosts economy and adds stop-start without noticeably affecting performance levels. The i40 is Hyundai's most luxurious car on offer in the UK, so its very comfortable and quiet over long distances. If you choose the sports suspensions option, however, the ride is firmer but still proves comfy, even on bumpy roads.
Calm and comfortable, the fairly luxurious i40 is a decent long-distance cruiser that copes well with the UK's increasingly bumpy roads, even when fitted with the firmer optional sports suspension. However, if ride comfort is top of your priority list, we’d suggest avoiding the 18-inch alloy wheels, which make the i40's ride much bumpier. Its exterior dimensions are good for parking and urban roads. Inside, the driver's seat has plenty of adjustment, making it easy to find a comfortable driving position with good visibility. All the seats offer strong back and side support while being soft enough to make long journey's comfy. There's minimal road and wind noise, with even the diesel models proving pretty quiet. Standard equipment is high across the whole range, with entry-levels coming being fitted with Audi-style daytime running lights, heating that detects windscreen fogging and automatically adjusts, air-conditioning, reclining rear seats and a leather steering wheel.
Hyundai has a strong reputation for reliability - even though it dropped seven places to number 14 in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, it's still a solid performer. The manufacturer's confidence in the quality of its cars is reflected in its five-year/unlimited mileage warranty, which covers most potential problems and is transferable to subsequent owners, so the i40 is unlikely to go wrong. Behind the wheel it certainly feels very well made. Hyundai has also placed a strong emphasis on safety, fitting driver and passenger airbags, rear curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and hill-hold assist as standard. If you opt for the Assist Pack, then extra safety systems like lane assist that steers the car back into the lane when you drift out are also added. Hardly surprising, then, that the i40 secured the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, scoring an excellent 92 per cent for adult protection.
At 525 litres, the i40's boot is slightly smaller than a Ford Mondeo's, but the rear seats fold down to increase storage capacity. If luggage space is really important to you, you’ll be much better off plumping for the i40 Tourer estate, with it's huge 1,719 litres of space when its rear seats are folded flat. On the saloon, the boot opening is a bit narrow, so loading bulky items can be a bit difficult. Inside, there are loads of handy storage spaces and cubbies dotted around the interior, while there's plenty of room for five adults to sit comfortably, with above average head and legroom.
Value for money
You do have to pay more than ever before for a Hyundai, but the i40 offers better quality, higher equipment levels and improved brand value for your money. The cheapest i40 starts at just over £18,000 to buy, but you do get a lot for that price – anyone upgrading from the old model to this i40 won’t feel short-changed. Mid-range Style models come with sat-nav as standard, for instance, while top-of-the-range Premium versions are decked out with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated seats, touchscreen sat-nav, reversing camera, panoramic sun roof, keyless entry and start, and leather upholstery. And now that resale values for Hyundais are significantly higher, you’ll get more of your money back on a good deal in the used car market when the time does comes to sell – and if that's within the five-year warranty, the unlimited-mileage triple-care package goes with the car to the new owner, complete with roadside assistance and free vehicle health checks.
The i40 should prove to be a fairly cheap and efficient family saloon to run. Servicing costs are relatively low and insurance rates should be similarly reasonable. Of the engines on offer, the 1.7-litre diesel is very economical, with fuel economy of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of only 113g/km. Even the higher-powered version of the diesel still returns 62.8mpg and emits 119g/km so is no more expensive to tax. But be warned – these numbers are all for Blue Drive diesel models. Pick a model without Blue Drive and the economy tumbles to 43mpg and the emissions jump to 134g/km. Similarly, the 1.6-litre petrol Blue Drive returns fuel economy of 47.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 140g/km, which drops to 42.8mpg and raises to 155g/km, respectively, without Blue Drive. Pick the right engine and there's no doubting that the i40 saloon can be an efficient and economical choice.