Wag­ons may be big again

When they’re as good as the Hyundai i40, sta­tion wag­ons could make a come­back, writes Dave Moore

South Waikato News - - SPORT -

The sta­tion wagon as we know it has rather taken a back seat to the cross­over and SUV in re­cent years, as peo­ple try to ‘‘ruggedize’’ their life­styles how­ever ar­ti­fi­cially, even if most of their off-road­ing means turn­ing into a drive­way or ne­go­ti­at­ing a su­per­mar­ket carpark.

There are signs that wag­ons are hav­ing a bit of a resur­gence in re­cent times and such a trend is un­likely to be hin­dered when wag­ons as stun­ning to look at as the Hyundai i40 start to en­ter New Zealand show­rooms.

With a fa­mil­iar drop-through Hyundai grille and a sig­na­ture sweep­ing side crease to con­nect it to other re­cent of­fer­ings from the Korean con­cern, the i40 adds a long, gen­tly ta­pered five-door load car­rier pro­file to the mix and ends up bet­ter look­ing than any of them. An­other nice touch is the rear pil­lar’s sub­tle re­verse curve. It could be some­thing of a trend-set­ter.

The body’s ta­per does not com­pro­mise load ac­cess, as it does with the sim­i­larly-shaped Aven­sis II from Toy­ota. I found it would gob­ble up an arm­chair with­out ef­fort, some­thing the Ja­panese wagon couldn’t do with the same item of fur­ni­ture. There’s un­der floor stor­age too and good strong-look­ing ‘‘eyes’’ for a load net – what a pity that Hyundai doesn’t of­fer the net as part of the pack­age.

While the load ca­pac­ity is im­pres­sive, at 553 litres seats up and 1719 litres seats folded, back seat space is good too, with enough legroom to cope with large adults sit­ting be­hind size­able front seat oc­cu­pants with­out any trou­ble.

But the place to be is def­i­nitely up front, where the driver and pas­sen­ger seem to have at least as much room as the slightly larger i45 sedan. Good dash ma­te­ri­als, qual­ity cloth and well-shaped seats con­spire with nice de­tail­ing – for the most part – to give the owner/user a high ‘‘feel good’’ rat­ing. In con­trast, the sound sys­tem’s in­for­ma­tion screen is very poor, with crude graph­ics, a cu­ri­ous blue-grey back­ground and it proves al­most im­pos­si­ble to read in bright sun­light.

This is sur­pris­ing when com­pared with the thought that’s gone into the rest of the car, with all of its con­trols in­clud­ing those on the steer­ing wheel be­ing sim­ple and clear and its easy to use blue­tooth, MP3 and ipod con­nec­tions all stowed away neatly be­hind a con­sole lid, next to a phone charg­ing plug.

While the ma­te­ri­als are dark in the en­try-point i40s, it isn’t dingy at all and sur­pris­ingly classy, all told.

Things get bet­ter in the more ex­pen­sive Elite mod­els which throw in leather, cli­mate con­trol and a much nicer sound sys­tem and screen, more sport­ing al­loy wheels and a park­ing cam­era.

The range starts at $44,990 for a 2.0-litre 130kw six-speed au­to­matic i40, while the Elite ver­sion asks $49,990, with the 1.7-litre tur­bod­iesel ver­sion, also with a six-speed au­to­matic, adding a pre­mium of $4000 in each case.

The ul­ti­mate i40 is the diesel Elite Lim­ited which adds even more fruit, in­clud­ing a panoramic sun­roof.

If there’s a com­plaint about stan­dard equip­ment, I’d like to see rear park­ing sen­sors in the base mod­els, as that smart, ta­pered sil­hou­ette has one draw­back; a re­stricted view to the rear.

HYUNDAI i40: will take the form of a sportswagon of­fer­ing for the world­wide mar­ket in­clud­ing new Zealand and Aus­tralia.

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