Sleek, sexy and strikingly different
The handsome, strikingly different Hyundai i45 has PETER BARNWELL in raptures
HYUNDAI’S relentless march onward and upward continues with the arrival this week of a sexy-looking, mid-size sedan called the i45.
Styled in the US, i45 boasts Hyundai’s new design language called ‘‘fluidic sculpture’ and is a replacement for the bland Sonata that failed to ignite the local market.
That certainly won’t be the the case with i45 which is sure to stir its segment with head-turning looks, generous equipment and a sporty feel.
Classy competition comes from Honda’s Accord Euro, Toyota Camry, Mazda6, Ford Mondeo and the new Suzuki Kizashi but i45 has an advantage straight away by outpowering all of them except the Honda which has the same 148kW output.
The Hyundai has more torque at 250Nm than any of its direct competitors.
Power comes from a 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder engine featuring variable valve timing and direct fuel injection to optimise power, torque, fuel economy and cut emissions.
On top of this is a six-speed manual or optional six-speed auto on the base model with the mid and top-end cars both scoring the paddle shift auto as standard.
Hyundai is offering only the mid and top-end models called Elite and Premium from this week with the base model, called Active, arriving a few months down the track.
Pricing for the manual Active is $29,490 with the Elite (auto only) going for $34,490 and the Premium $37,990.
All share the same powertrain and all are well equipped with the base car scoring fog-lights, chrome body hardware, twin outlet exhaust, LED tail lights, full size alloy spare, partial leather upholstery, auto headlights, cruise, hill start assist, piano black interior fascia, stability control, aircon, six air bags and full audio connectivity.
The other models get more including full leather upholstery, rain sensing wipers, proximity key ignition/entry, bigger wheels, better audio, reverse sensors and even a panoramic glass roof on the Premium model.
Though not yet tested locally, Hyundai says the i45 will achieve a five-star crash rating.
Fuel economy is rated at 7.9-litres/ 100km thanks in part to the aerodynamic, coupe-like body.
We were able to take the two variants currently available for a decent drive last week and liked what we saw.
The swoopish body has a predatory bird face and striking flanks with a head nod to the ‘‘flame surfacing’’ technique developed by Chris Bangle, former head designer at BMW.
The roofline is reminiscent of Mercedes-Benz’s CLS and the rear has more than a passing similarity to the current Toyota Camry. The overall appearance is striking. As is the premium feel interior.
The drive impresses with plenty of pep from the engine across a wide rev range, more up high. The auto is quick and smooth and has a sport mode that livens up things even more.
Handling is acceptably good given we are talking a weighty four-door family sedan here. The Premium model has adaptive dampers that should be on all models.
Comfort levels inside are high, spoiled a little with too much road noise generated from the low-profile 18s on the Premium model.
You can drive i45 hard, cruise, commute and it has all bases covered. Not quite as sharp dynamically as the new Suzuki Kizashi, the i45 is safe, predictable and well mannered.
Brakes, steering, suspension and tyre grip are good for a car in this segment thanks in part to local testing and calibration of the suspension. The strong body is made using a new high temperature panel pressing process.
Unfortunately, Bluetooth phone connectivity and satnav aren’t available at the moment but should be in about six months.
The i45 is strikingly different, handsome and delivers on standard kit and safety at a competitive price.
The Hyundai i45 will stir up interest with its head-turning looks, generous
equipment and sporty feel.