Hyundai i40 saloon

£19,695 - £27,595

Hyundai has made a big push upmarket in recent years and the stylish and practical i40 saloon forms a large part of that effort. Sharp looks, an efficient diesel engine and generous standard equipment are key to its appeal, but unlike Hyundais of old, it’s no longer a budget choice and costs around the same as most of its key rivals in the large family-car class. It definitely gives cars like the Volkswagen Passat, Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia some real competition, however.

The i40 is available in four different specifications. There’s entry-level S, mid-range SE Nav, the SE Nav Business (which is aimed at the company-car market) and top-of-the-range Premium . All versions come with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity and automatic headlights as standard. As you'd expect, the most economical model is the less powerful of the two 1.7-litre diesels, but the i40 is fun to drive as well and easily matches the likes of the Peugeot 508 for enjoyment behind the wheel – even if it does lag behind longtime class leader the Ford Mondeo in this area.

Interior quality is good – the cabin is fashioned from high-grade materials and overall the i40 is an appealing purchase. If you need more than the 500 litres of boot space on offer in the saloon, you can look at the Hyundai i40 Tourer estate. This boasts similarly eye-catcthing good looks as the saloon, but with a more practical slant.

It’s worth noting that the Kia Optima is a sister model to the Hyundai i40 – they’re basically the same car under the metal, although the Optima isn’t available as an estate like the i40. It does come with Kia’s class-leading seven-year/100,000-mile warranty, however, which may be a better deal dependning on how long you intend to keep your car and how many miles you cover each year.

Even more attractive is Hyundai's very competitive ‘triple care’ package, which includes a confidence-inspiring five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty, servicing and RAC roadside assistance. It’s standard on all i40 models (and indeed the rest of the Hyundai range) and transferable to subsequent owners.