In August the ubiquitous Hyundai ix35 remained Australia’s number 1 selling small SUV under $40,000. The 23 per cent market share must be the envy of the others but I’ve driven the ix35 before and to be honest it didn’t exactly knock my socks off. So what is it about the ix35 that sees Australian customers stampeding to their nearest Hyundai dealer. EFTM recently had the opportunity to sample the Hyundai ix35 2.0L CRDi Elite Series II.
Then And Now.
Manufactures love throwing on a “Series II” plate, particularly Holden. I’ve often wondered how Series I customers feel when essentially the same model is re-released, repairing all the faults and indiscretions of the first model. For ix35 customers the alterations aren’t flouted in their face, but nonetheless they are certainly substantial.
The Series I ix35 while still hugely popular lacked one hugely important trait, drivability. Within the boundaries of Australia lays millions and millions of substandard tarmac, the ix35 simply wasn’t set up to handle the harshness of the sunburnt country and its unfunded goat tracks. The ride was ungainly, awkward and unacceptably harsh. The steering was heavy and lacked feedback, for a keen driver it was simply a turn off.
But I was elated to discover within minutes of hoping into our ix35 2.0L CRDi Elite that most of the above had been banished. A locally developed suspension tune has simply worked wonders, the ride is now far more isolated and pleasant. Numerous tweaks to coil springs, stabiliser bars and even the way the sub-frame is mounted have produced a far friendlier car.
Joining the party is an all-new petrol line-up with the option of a 2.0L or larger 2.4L GDI units with outputs of 122kW and 136kW respectively. The smaller capacity engine is available in the entry-level Active and middle-specification Elite model (2WD). The stronger of the two is reserved for AWD Elite and Highlander models which can also be equipped with the as-tested 2.0L CRDi diesel. As is the norm these days it’s the pick of the crop with 135kW and a hefty 392Nm, simply a refined, willing workhorse.
Should you long for a manual the base 2WD Active now scores a 6-speed manual with a 6-speed automatic being an option but standard across the rest of the range.
You have to be the equivalent of a train spotter to pick up on some of the exterior changes. The enhancements are limited to decorative silver roof rails, improved projector-beam headlights, LED positioning lights which are indeed positioned differently according to variant, there are redesigned alloy wheels and some new paintwork schemes to pick from.
To pick the interior changes you’d really have to be a Hyundai tragic. The entry-level Active gets a newly designed woven material across the seats, Elite and Highlander variants score a few softer touch bits and pieces throughout the cabin. Front cupholders now hold on tighter and like all good cupholders now score mood lighting…
Rear seat passengers have still been overlooked when it comes to air vents but at least they can now sink back a little further with a two-stage reclining feature added.
Why Is It So Popular?
The ix35 proves that grassroots Australian customers don’t require a lavishly appointed interior and certainly baulk at a premium badge. I see many, many car interiors during the course of a year and to be honest the ix35 wouldn’t fall in the top 20. It’s plastic city and in many respects suffers from a yesteryear type feel. But what Hyundai do manage to offer is an almost perfect, economical package. The option of AWD, flexible engines choices, stylish looks and suite of standard features such as Bluetooth Streaming, six-speaker sound, steering wheel controls and the all-important USB and auxiliary inputs mount a captivating case for many. Furthermore a Capped Priced Service schedule for 3 years is joined by the original 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
The Hyundai ix35 kicks off at $26,990 for the Active 2.0L GDI (2WD) manual or $29,190 for the automatic. The middle tier Elite variant starts at $33,090 (2WD), $35,490 for the petrol 2.4L GDI (AWD) automatic or $38,090 for the as tested diesel 2.0L (AWD) automatic. The flagship Highlander kicks off at $38,090 for the 2.4L GDI (AWD) automatic and tops out at $40,490 for the diesel.
EFTM Rubber Stamp.
Savvy Australian SUV-hungry families are snapping up cars like the ix35 for good reason. I can’t think of a better car for the kids to spill a thick shake between the seats, all while the elders save at pump, the workshop and ultimately their sanity with the accompanying peace of mind that’s provided. 1,447 did just that in August and that’s why the Hyundai ix35 scores the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp Of Approval.
Chris is EFTM’s Motoring Editor, driving everything from your entry level hatch to the latest Luxury cars through to the Rolls Royce.
He has been in the media for 20 years, produced three Olympic games broadcasts, attending Beijing 2008 & London 2012.
Strangely he owns a Toyota Camry Hybrid, he defiantly rejects the knockers.
Chris is married to Gillian and resides in Sydney’s North West. They have Sam the English Springer Spaniel and Felix the Burmese cat to keep them company, and recently welcomed baby Henry to the family.