REVIEW DATE: 15 Mar 2010
June Neary gets to grips with Hyundai's crossover 4x4.
I don't necessarily approve of off-road vehicles being used by owners who only ever drive them on the road. However, I was forced to revise this view slightly last time we had a dusting of snow round our way. The beautiful rear-wheel-drive executive estate car I was driving started behaving as though it was on an ice rink fitted with Teflon tyres but given the UK's usual climate, the costs of all-wheel-drive tend to out-weight the benefits for the kind of driving most of us do. You might think that this bodes badly for the Hyundai ix35 we're taking a look at here but don't jump the gun. Yes, this vehicle is a 4x4 but like the majority of small to mid-sized models around today, it's designed to excel in the kind of tarmac-based usage that the majority of buyers will put it through. The ix35 is the kind of vehicle that's increasingly being dubbed a crossover 4x4 - which means that you still get the taller driving position, easier access and bold off-roader styling, as well as four-wheel-drive standing by for those rare occasions when you'll actually need it. What you also get, however, is a more refined, car-like driving experience and lower running costs than would be obtainable in a proper 4x4, with the differentials, ground clearance and low range gearbox you'd need for driving up a dried-out river bed.
There's a large and roomy cabin beneath the ix35's typically butch exterior lines. Efforts to bring a sportier feel to the exterior by tapering the windows off towards the rear of the car and shrinking the rear screen don't help visibility however. The vehicle also fails to come up with any of the clever MPV-style features that would add versatility to the cabin. The rear-seats don't slide or recline but feature conventional 60:40 split backs that fold down flat to the floor to increase luggage space. Rear leg room is very good for a vehicle of this size and entries and exits are made easier by the elevated ride-height. It's easy to see why 4x4-style vehicles have become so popular with families as the taller design makes it so simple to strap kids in or fit a car seat.
Not all ix35 models will be four-wheel-drive. As has increasingly become the case with crossovers and compact 4x4s designed mainly for road use, the entry-level ix35s will be front-wheel-drive only. This means the extra traction to help you out in slippery conditions is lost but all ix35s still have the extended ground clearance to stop them coming to grief on speed humps and high kerbs. The 2WD versions also bring fuel efficiency benefits. The engine range available on the ix35 is usefully diverse. A pair of 2.0-litre units, one petrol and one diesel, head up the range but Hyundai has big hopes for smaller engines it's offering with the car. A 1.6-litre petrol unit and a 1.7-litre diesel look set to be big sellers thanks to low running costs and affordable up-front pricing. The 2WD models will bring efficiency savings over the 4x4 ix35 models and the two smaller engines in particular look to be solid performers with regard to running costs. Emissions of 149g/km for the 1.6-litre petrol model and 139g/km for the 1.7-litre diesel are good going for a compact 4x4. Part of the credit for the parsimony of the ix35 can be laid at the door of Hyundai's ISG Idle Stop and Go technology that turns off the vehicle's engine when it's standing still to save fuel.
There are a lot of models like the ix35 out there at the moment as manufacturers respond to the strong demand in this sector of the market. It's easy to see where their popularity stems from but choosing between the leading contenders isn't easy. Hyundai's effort ticks all the important boxes with its attractive looks and practical interior and is certainly worthy of consideration by anyone in the market for a road-going 4x4.
The results below show the top IX35 deals on buyacar
|Hyundai IX35 2.0 CRDi Premium 5dr diesel estate|
|Price £20,256||Save £3,719|
|Hyundai IX35 1.7 CRDi Premium 5dr 2WD diesel estate|
|Price £17,565||Save £3,210|
|Hyundai IX35 1.7 CRDi Premium 5dr [Ind/Media Pack] 2WD diesel estate|
|Price £19,677||Save £3,618|
|Hyundai IX35 2.0 CRDi Premium 5dr [Ind/Media Pack] Auto diesel estate|
|Price £23,639||Save £4,316|
|Hyundai IX35 2.0 CRDi Premium 5dr [Ind/Media Pack] diesel estate|
|Price £22,368||Save £4,127|
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