Hyundai i40 (2011-2020) Review
The Hyundai i40 is a large, spacious family car, often chosen by company car users. Big discounts make it a bargain for private buyers too
Strengths & weaknesses
- Spacious and practical interior
- Efficient diesel engines
- Generous levels of standard equipment
- Not especially desirable
- Yawn-inducing to drive
- No petrol or hybrid option
The i40 is not a car with stand-out design and won’t turn heads or attract admiring glances parked outside your home. It's just a sensible, spacious and practical family car that will work well for company car drivers by being affordable to buy, run and tax.
It first went on sale in 2011, and despite an update in 2015, the car was showing its age and struggling to stand out in a landscape that is dominated by brands that many motorists would be happier to have outside their home - the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class are seen as more desirable, if considerably more expensive. Even when judged against Skoda, Vauxhall and Volkswagen, there’s a faint sense that the i40 should be put out to pasture.
Don’t discredit it too hastily, though. New cars started from just over £20,300, which was competitive with Ford’s Mondeo and the Skoda Superb. But, in reality, the i40 is a bargain thanks to new car discounts that cut its price by between £6,000 to £7,000. Nearly new Hyundai i40s are even cheaper, making this spacious family car available for the price of a Ford Fiesta.
The i40 is larger than Hyundai’s more modern i30 but the saloon is less practical, as its boot opening is much smaller. That issue is solved by the estate version, called the i40 Tourer, with a larger luggage area and boot lid that opens up the back of the car.
The Tourer will carry 553 litres worth of luggage, if you like - and opens up to provide more than 1,700 litres once the seats are lowered, which is comparable to a Ford Mondeo but less than the 650/1,780 litres in a Volkswagen Passat.
Diesel power is the only option and the engines offer reasonable, if not class-leading efficiency. But Hyundai does offer hybrid and electric versions of its Ioniq if you want to do your bit or lower company car tax bills.
Apart from bog-standard S trim cars, the i40 comes with a dashboard touchscreen. Since early 2018, this has included Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which make it simpler to control many phone apps from the screen. Digital radio, a reversing camera, cruise control and automatic operation of the lights and windscreen wipers are standard.
When tested by Euro NCAP, in 2011, for crash safety, the i40 Tourer achieved a maximum five-star rating but standards have since become tougher and some key safety equipment is only optional (only the top-spec Premium model comes with nine airbags and a system that warns when the driver is wandering out of their lane), which is behind the times.
As a family car, the i40 Saloon puts in a strong showing. There’s plenty of space in the back for adults to travel comfortably, along with armrests, sizeable cup holders and 12V charging points - but no USB ports.
Drivers will get comfortable at the wheel, thanks to a wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. The car is at its best pounding motorways and main roads where it’s comfortable and quiet, with suspension that’s well-judged to deal with imperfections in British roads.
On a winding road, the light and vague steering makes the car feel detached and dull to drive, where a Ford Mondeo is more precise. This characteristic is great for navigating busy supermarket car parks, though.
And if you’re looking for a cheap, unassuming car that manages basic tasks effortlessly, the Hyundai i40 won’t let you down. Just don’t expect to fall in love.
|5-years / Unlimited miles
|Tourer - 553 litres | Saloon - 525 litres
|1815mm (excl. mirrors)
|Tourer - 4775mm | Saloon - 4745mm
|From £165 to £205 in the first year; £140 for next five years
Best Hyundai i40 for...
Best for Economy – Hyundai i40 S 1.7 CRDi 115PS
Costing just £20,360, the entry-level model is, emits the least CO2 and returns the highest miles per gallon figure. A solid option for penny pinchers.
Best for Families – Hyundai i40 SE Nav 1.7 CRDi 141PS Tourer
The larger engine makes life more pleasant on the road and stepping up just one trim level sees the introduction of navigation, heated seats and other gadgets.
- 2012: The Hyundai i40 Touring (estate) is launched
- 2013: A four-door saloon version of the i40 Tourer is released and receives praise for its efficient engines and affordable price tag.
- 2015: The i40 receives a much-needed styling update, re-engineered engines that are more efficient, tweaked chassis and suspension, as well as improved interior equipment.
Understanding Hyundai i40 names
Trim level SE Nav
There are four trim levels on offer, with each adding more equipment as standard and commanding a higher price.
Engine 1.7 CRDi
Just one diesel engine is offered but it comes in two states of tune.
Gearbox 6 speed manual
6-speed shows that the car has six gears. As standard every i40 has a manual transmission but a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission is available as an option on all but the S trim level.
Body style Saloon
The Hyundai i40 is available in both estate Touring and four-door saloon body styles.
Hyundai i40 Engines
At the time of the car’s launch, Hyundai claimed its decision to only fit a diesel engine to the i40 catered for "80 per cent of the market". However, since the Volkswagen emissions scandal and widespread demonisation of diesel, Britain’s drivers are increasingly prepared to consider petrol-powered cars, hybrids or plug-in hybrids or even electric cars.
In that respect, the i40’s appeal is limited by its single engine, but the company does offer the Ioniq as a comparably-sized alternative.
It’s best to opt for the more powerful 141hp version, as it provides relatively effortless performance whereas the lesser powered version struggles to make progress when the car is filled with people and their luggage, making it noisy when accelerating. It does settle down during steady long-distance driving, though.
There is some noise and harshness under heavy acceleration, while wind and road noise isn't as well silenced as it is in the Volkswagen Passat, but the gulf between the two isn't enormous.
The problem is, drivers will likely find the Passat and even Skoda’s Superb more pleasing to drive, while Kia's Optima offers a greater choice of engines (including a hybrid) and a seven-year warranty.
Acceleration (0 - 62mph)
1.7-litre CRDi 115hp Manual
1.7-litre CRDi 141hp Manual
1.7-litre CRDi 141hp DCT
Hyundai i40 Trims
S, SE Nav, SE Nav Business, Premium
There are four trim levels for the i40. The most affordable S version comes with the basic items of equipment that drivers look for, including auxiliary connection to the six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth hands-free calling, lumbar support adjustment for the driver’s seat and alloy wheels.
However, most customers will gravitate to either the SE Nav or SE Business models. Here, a touchscreen with navigation comes as standard and a smartphone can be integrated using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality.
Automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, a self-dimming rear-view mirror, climate control and electrically adjustable and heated seats up front are also standard.
SE Nav Business adds to this a memory function and part-leather trim, while front and rear parking sensors accompany the reversing camera and guidance system.
The flagship Premium trim level includes larger, 18-inch alloy wheels, a black and chrome radiator grille, satin chrome effect door surrounds and alloy pedals inside.
Other features include heated rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, rear electric window blind and what Hyundai dubs the "Supervision Instrument Cluster", which consists of an LCD colour display nestled between the instrument binnacles.
It’s worth noting that Premium models come with nine airbags, as opposed to seven in other models, while a lane departure warning is also only offered on this model - something we’d like to see adopted on all versions.
Hyundai i40 Reliability and warranty
Hyundai has previously suffered with reliability issues and the i40 finished a lowly 151st place for reliability and 128th place for build quality in the 2015 Auto Express Driver Power Survey.
The Korean car maker updated the car and made improvements in 2015, some of which attempted to address the issues highlighted by owners. Allthough the car did not feature in the 2018 Driver Power Survey, the company finished in 15th position, some way behind Kia, Mazda, VW and Skoda but ahead of Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall.
All models come with a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty which includes an annual vehicle health check and breakdown cover, while the anti-perforation warranty lasts for 12 years.
Used Hyundai i40
The Hyundai i40 is a competitively priced car to begin with and only offers even better value for money when second hand. That’s because it suffers from an appreciable fall in value, which isn’t good news for anyone that bought a new model but is a boon for those looking to bag some bargains on the used car market.
Models from 2014, with less than 50,000 miles, are available for as little as £8,000. Spend around £10,000 and a SE Nav trim with an automatic gearbox and fewer miles is within reach.
Also see if you’re tempted by pre-registered examples of the i40. They’ll be as good as new, will have a handful of miles on the clock yet could save drivers thousands of pounds.