"Stylish, comfortable and versatile, the Hyundai ix35 offers quality to rival Toyota and Kia."
There's no doubt that the Hyundai ix35 is a very distinctive car - its stylish appearance and high suspension means it turns heads wherever it goes. The sister car to the Hyundai i30, the ix is 10cm longer than its immediate rival, the Nissan Qashqai, which, crucially, results in a lot more room inside. On the inside, all fittings and fixtures feel solid and well made, while the dashboard is clearly laid out and easy to use. Top-of-the-range models also offer a panoramic glass roof, climate control, automatic windscreen wipers, heated leather seats and keyless entry as standard. It's available with two or four-wheel drive, and its soft suspension makes it very comfortable on long trips.
The ix35 is very capable family cruiser on the open road, particularly with the powerful 134bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet. However, it does feel slightly out of its depth on winding country roads, with some body roll in the corners. You’ll also find yourself making lots of small adjustments to the wheel to keep the SUV pointing in the right direction, the steering lacking the accuracy of rivals like the Ford Kuga or Nissan Qashqai. For those who find the cost of the 2.0-litre a bit high, the 114bhp 1.7 CRDi engine is the best balance of cost versus performance, while the cheapest engine, the 1.6-litre petrol, lacks power.
The soft suspension and high ride height means that the ix35 absorbs most big bumps and potholes on rough roads. But it really comes into its own around town, where the height provides a commanding view of the road ahead and the soft ride and good interior insulation filer out a lot of the noise and stress of city driving. Likewise, on the motorway, the engine is quiet, with air-conditioning as standard helping to make the inside of the ix a very pleasant place to spend time. The quality of materials inside have improved vastly, although some switches and controls do still feel a little cheap and brittle.
The Hyundai ix35 placed 18th in our 2012 Driver Power survey, showing strong customer satisfaction and good reliability. There has been no major recalls and the ix shares many of it parts and workings with its sister car, the Hyundai i30, which has consistently scored highly in customer satisfaction surveys - as has Hyundai as a manufacturer. And other than a few cheap looking plastic controls inside, it looks like a high-quality product. The ix also scored a maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, scoring an excellent 90 per cent for adult protection and an equally impressive 88 per cent for child protection. All models come with a five-year unlimited mileage warranty.
With the back seats in place, the ix35 offers a reasonable-enough 591 litres of boot space. That's not as much space as you’ll get in the back of a Skoda Yeti, and you have to navigate a high load lip to get big objects in. Plus, the dimensions of the boot are a little awkward and the rear seats don’t fold down fully flat, which can make loading difficult. Once the seats are folded, however, the capacity increases to a generous 1,436 litres, which is a lot more than the Nissan Qashqai has to offer. There are also plenty of storage cubbies dotted around the inside, plus a generous glovebox for stowing away bits’n’pieces.
Value for money
Even though it's now been available for a few years, the ix35 still represents good value for money for its price. Hyundai continues to spoil buyers with heated front and rear seats as standard equipment, plus parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity thrown in for good measure. If you plump up the extra money for the Media Pack upgrade, you’ll also get sat-nav, keyless start and a reversing camera. Plus, let's not forget its sense of style. And when it comes time to sell it as a used car, the ix35 holds its value nearly as well as rival SUV the Skoda Yeti and certainly better than the Ford Kuga. The five-year warranty is also fully transferable to subsequent owners, so good deals should be easy to find.
Hyundai claim that the 2.0-litre diesel engine will return 47mpg in fuel economy, but we struggled to match this figure when we drove the car. Road tax is a bit of a premium, too, thanks to CO2 emissions of 147g/km, which places the ix in tax band F. The 1.6-litre petrol models are more efficient but don’t have the same level of performance and are therefore less relaxing to drive. The cleanest model is the two-wheel-drive 1.7 CRDi, which returns 48.7mpg and emits 138g/km of CO2, but this is still higher than some rivals. However, if you add Hyundai's ISG stop-start system, economy is increased to 54.3mpg while CO2 emissions are reduced to 135g/km. Some of these costs are balanced out by the five-year warranty, which cover repair bills.