Cars - Hyundai

Road tests and reviews of the latest Hyundai models available in South Africa

2015 Hyundai ix35 1.7 CRDI

2015 Hyundai ix35 1.7 CRDI

By Franky Johnson

Since first launched in South Africa few years back, the Hyundai ix 35 has become a top seller in its class, and in November last year Hyundai Automotive increased the range by adding a new entry level derivative, the Hyundai ix35 1.7 litre turbo-diesel, and at a very reasonable price, but still very well equipped.

Hyundai’s has improved the quality of its products by “leaps and bounds” and today they can hold their own with some of the finest products from Europe. In fact all the ix35 SUVs that we get in South Africa are built in Hyundai’s new factory in the Czech Republic.

The design of the new ix35 1.7 diesel is a progression of the same modern looks as the Fluidic Sculpture design theme found throughout the rest of the ix35 range. The 1.7 diesel is identified by its new grille with black and chrome styling, which reflects the trademark hexagonal shape of the Hyundai SUV and their smaller car range. The front and rear bumper and exterior mirror housings are matched to the body colour, and the front bumper, which houses fog lights, are part of the standard 1.7 Premium package, while the press vehicle rides on gun-metal alloy wheels shod with Korean Hankook 225/60R17 tyres.

Moving inside, the 1.7 comes with Hyundai’s signature blue lighting and a new 160-watt AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers, while iPod/USB and auxiliary inputs are housed in the centre console underneath the air conditioner controls. The audio system information is displayed on a 4.3-inch colour touch-screen, which changes to a rearview park-assist camera when reverse gear is selected.

The buttons for the Bluetooth hands-free phone system, the audio, and the cruise control are housed in the multi-function, multi-adjustable steering wheel. Also standard are electric windows all round, electric exterior mirrors and unusual for an entry level vehicle, the ix35 1.7 comes with a smart key system, which means the key can stay in your pocket or purse, and you start the vehicle by a push-button.

Comfort features include dual front automatic air-conditioning, panoramic sunroof, electric power steering and high-quality materials for the upper door trims. Also standard is Hyundai’s FLEX STEER system which offers three driving modes – normal, comfort and sport – so the driver can vary the level of steering support and feedback to best suit the environment.

The new Hyundai ix35 1.7 turbo-diesel is packed with safety features which include disc brakes on all four wheels with ABS, Brake Assist, EBD, height and reach adjustable head restraints; three-point safety belts at all five seating positions; front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters; child-seat anchors; and dual advanced frontal airbags, side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors that cover both the front and rear seat rows, and the doors lock automatically when the car gets to 15 km/h.

Interior space is generous, and the ix35 boasts a roomy and ergonomically well-planned cabin with a commanding view of the road and one’s surroundings. The 1.7 Premium’s seats are covered with a combination of cloth and leather for a cool and comfortable feeling in our hot summer climate. The front seats are comfortable, and there’s ample legroom for the second row passengers, who can even recline their seat backs for more comfort, and if you’re looking for somewhere to put your sunglasses and oddments, there are now 19 different storage places for oddments and drinks and for carrying luggage, it has a large 591 litre boot.

Under the bonnet Hyundai has installed a new 1 685 cc in-line 16 valve double overhead cam 4-cylinder turbo-charged diesel engine, which is just 300 cc smaller than the 2-litre turbo-diesel engine in the ix35 2.0 Elite. It makes 85 kW of power at 4 000 rpm, and 260 Nm of torque from between 1 250 and 2 750 rpm. Fuel consumption is given as 6.5 litres per 100 kms in the combined test cycle, but the on board computer of the test car showed that I had averaged 7.3 litres per 100 kms

The 1.7 litre motor is linked to an upgraded six-speed manual gearbox with slightly lower ratios to the 2-litre turbo-diesel models, with power transferred to the front wheels. The engine is quit e perky and propels the Hyundai ix35 1.7 from standstill to 100 km/h in a reasonable 12.5 seconds, with top speed given as 173 km/h.

The ix35 stands quite high on the road, so together with its raised seating position, the driver gets a good all round view of his surroundings, which also assists when it comes to parallel parking, or having to squeeze into a tight parking spot at a shopping centre, and the small turning radius for an SUV also helps.

Going by the spec sheet, the 1.7 turbo-diesel would appear to be somewhat underpowered, but as soon as you drive it, that assumption goes away, and I was suitably impressed by its performance. The 85 kW motor punches way above its weight, and certainly benefits from the torque that comes in from a very low 1 250 revs.

In acceleration tests after a three way average, the Hyundai ix35 1.7 diesel posted a time of 12.5 seconds for the 0 to 100 km/h dash and top speed is about 175 km/h.

Clatter from the diesel engine is clearly heard in the cab at idle or while driving about town, but once on the open road with the windows closed it’s as quiet as any petrol engine, and driving the ix35 1.7, with its lightly weighted power steering, feels similar to driving a car.

On the open road it cruises comfortably at the 120 km/h limit with the motor registering just 2 200 rpm in 6th gear, and at that speed the ix35 diesel is very well isolated from outside noise even on poor road surfaces. The ride is on the firm side on the tar, but not a bit uncomfortable.

Driven briskly on the narrow country roads in the midlands, there was a little body roll when being pushed through corners, but it was easy to control, and overall grip was good. The ride on gravel roads was excellent, with good road-holding and grip in the corners, as the suspension efficiently ironed out the bumps. It was also easy to “drift” the ix35 through corners on the gravel, as is so responsive and controllable for a SUV, and was quite entertaining to drive.

At R359 900 at launch, the new Hyundai ix35 1.7 litre turbo-diesel Premium 6-speed manual is exceptionally well priced, and represents a saving of over 50 Grand over the 2.0 turbo-diesel Elite 6-speed manual. The price includes Hyundai’s 5 year/ 150 000 km warranty; 5 year/90 000 km Service Plan; and 5 year/150 000 km Roadside Assistance.

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