Australian’s love their SUVs and 4x4s … you just have to look at the number of new vehicles sold in this segment every month to see that. In December 17,770 SUVs and 4x4s were sold and the hottest sales figures were in the compact 4×4 part of the market.
The compact part of the 4×4 segment is already crowded with vehicles from just about every major … and some less-than-major … manufacturers so competition is tough and it’s just got a whole lot tougher with the release of the ix35 from Hyundai.
In a market where many of its competitors look very similar there’s enough difference in the outward appearance of the ix35 to make it stand out from the crowd. The Hyundai press release describes the ix35 as “Fluidic Sculpture’ and while that may be a fair amount of hyperbole there’s no doubt that the lines of the ix35 are different.
They’re different enough for our other writer here at Aussie Motoring to spot one on the local Hyundai dealer’s lot as we drove past late on the evening of the day they were released. Our local dealer tends to not to make a big deal out any new release so it was just sitting there on the lot in amongst a bunch of Sonatas, Getz and a couple of used vehicles too.
It’s those flowing lines and the increasing trust that people are putting in the Hyundai brand … plus the fact that the RAV4 (the leader in compact SUV sales) is a little dated that’s going to make the ix35 popular with buyers.
The price of the ix35 isn’t going to hurt sales either. Starting at $26,990 plus on-road costs for the 2.0-litre petrol five-speed manual two-wheel drive and ranging up to $37,990 plus on-road costs for the top-of-the-range 2.0-litre R-series turbo-diesel six-speed automatic all-wheel drive the ix35 is going to be right in there at a very competitive price.
So what are the choices with the ix35?
The ix35 comes in three basic models. There’s the Active two-wheel drive and you can choose between a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission coupled to a 2.0-litre petrol engine.
The all-wheel drive Hyundai ix35 Elite (no flashbacks to the Morris Elite please) comes with your choice of a 2.4-litre petrol engine or a 2.0-litreR-series turbo-diesel engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.
At the top of the range is the all-wheel drive ix35 Highlander with the six-speed automatic transmission and the 2.0-litre R-series turbo-diesel engine.
If fuel consumption is important to you and you spend most of your time driving in urban environments then none of the above options are going to be overly exciting. The 2.0-litre petrol version will only give you 11.4L/100km regardless of whether you’ve chosen the manual or automatic option.
The 2.4-litre version gets even worse urban consumption at 12.4L/100km while the diesel doesn’t do much better with figures of 10.1L/100km around town. If you’re going to head out of town you’ll get much better fuel figures … as you would expect.
Hyundai says that they have had someone drive the top-of-the-range diesel ix35 from Melbourne to Adelaide and return on one tank of fuel (that’s basically 4.85L/100km) but whether or not that’s a result that most drivers could emulate is yet to be seen.
If you like the convenience of push-button start and proximity smart key (and don’t knock it till you’ve tried it) then you’ll be looking at the Elite and Highlander for it’s not fitted to the base level Active models.
Air conditioning is standard throughout the range but dual-zone air conditioning is only available on the Highlander. The Highlander also comes equipped with a sun-roof that opens over the front-seat occupants.
In all models in the ix35 range the driver’s seat is equipped with six-way electric adjustment and lumbar support. Leather upholstery is standard in the Highlander, a combination of leather/cloth is used in the Elite models and standard cloth upholstery is fitted to the Active models.
There are plenty of cupholders and storage compartments spread throughout the ix35 and a luggage screen is standard on all models. A cargo net is fitted to the Elite and Highland models.
Aux and USB ports with iPod intergration are fitted to all models and audio and cruise controls are mounted on the steering wheel in all models.
The Highlander comes equipped with a six-stack CD and sound system as standard and heated front seats are also standard on the top-of-the-range ix35.
Three-point seatbelts are provided for all seating positions and the front row belts have pretensioners and load limiters. Six airbags are located throughout the vehicle and they include the standard front passenger airbags, side-impact airbags and side-curtain airbags.
The usual array of Hyundai advanced safety features are fitted to all models. They include ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and ECS stability control that incorporates a traction control system.
The ix35 also has Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Brake Control to give you extra control on steep slopes.
A full-time electronic all-wheel drive system automatically controls power distribution in the Elite and Highlander models. This detects changes in the road surface and distributes driving force between the front and rear wheels for safer driving.
A rear-view camera is standard on the Highlander as is a Smart Parking Assist System that provides a graphical overlay on the camera image to guide a driver as they reverse into a parking spot.
That all adds up to one very impressive package that’s sure to appeal to a lot of buyers in the compact SUV market. It will certainly put pressure on the other car makers who want to achieve good sales in this popular market segment.