Sleek, sexy and strik­ingly dif­fer­ent

The hand­some, strik­ingly dif­fer­ent Hyundai i45 has PETER BARN­WELL in rap­tures

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - REVIEW -

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.

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