wheels’ Imran Malik is always poking fun at the estate body style, but will the handsome new i40 by Hyundai have the last laugh?
Can the handsome new Hyundai i40 change our test-driver’s mind about estates?
The other day, I saw a battered, old, secondgeneration Sonata, seemingly abandoned on the side of the street. “That’s the best place for it,” I thought to myself.
The Nineties wasn’t a particularly good period stylistically, mechanically or any kind of ‘cally’ for Hyundai – it built some terrible cars, like that one.
That was then. Now the carmaker boasts some truly competent models like the flagship Centennial, the sporty Genesis coupé and the Azera saloon. All smart and sophisticated cars blessed with fluidic, sculptured good looks, but nothing has impressed me more than the new i40 – an estate.
Though this body style has never really appealed to me, it has to be said that the i40 is very attractive; I like the creases on the body, those bold headlights featuring LEDs and the sculpted flanks. The highest compliment I think I can pay this car is that it has its own visual, and very distinct, identity. This, when most new cars on the road look quite alike, is a real feather in its cap and helps it stand out from the crowd. There aren’t that many estates on our roads that you can say are sleek or streamlined, that’s for sure.
Admiring glances were aplenty during my few days spent with it,
and aside from the good looks, the i40 proved not only to be a decent performer, but practical too. For instance, the boot normally holds 553 litres, but drop the rear seats and it grows to a cavernous 1,719 litres.
Aside from being huge, it also features a natty cargo net along with a tonneau cover, which allows you to pack items in and stop them from sliding around when you get a little heavy-handed with the steering and throttle. And there’s a real chance you might – the i40 may only have a 2.0-litre, 16-valve four-pot with variable valve timing mated to a six-speed automatic powering the front wheels, but it produces a reasonable 163bhp at 6,500rpm – just about enough to keep pace with fast-moving traffic.
Even though this is a large car measuring 4,770mm long, 1,815mm wide and 1,470mm high, it handles well. You can’t
really tell you’re driving something with five doors, and that’s thanks to the precise power steering and decent throttle response.
It isn’t sporty, nor is it particularly quick, but it handles well, absolutely looks the part and has a tidy interior, making this quite an all-rounder.
The cabin – decked out with glossblack finishes to the dash and centre console, giving it a more upmarket look – may be simplistic in terms of design, but more importantly it is easy to live with and user friendly.
The gauges and controls have been positioned just right, while the quality of the materials in here is good. There’s plenty of leg-, headand shoulder room for front-seat occupants, while those in the back will have little reason to complain as it’s just as roomy there.
You’ll easily get five adults into the i40 without a problem and still have more than enough space to load the back with all sorts of luggage, as I found myself doing while on airport duty the day before the car was to be returned to Hyundai.
I was grateful that I had this tester as it gobbled up three bags and a pram and still had room to spare. However, with the added weight, the 2.0-litre unsurprisingly struggled to keep pace.
Once I had ditched my passengers and their bags, the i40 breathed a sigh of relief, but the reality is you won’t buy this and then not use it to ferry people and their luggage around. Something with a bit more guts should probably have been made available – shove a V6 under that bonnet, Hyundai!
It felt composed on the go and you have to really try to upset the ride; there is some body roll, but generally the chassis handles road imperfections without much fuss. Though it coped admirably in the comfort and practicality stakes, a tad more power might have been useful.
Hyundai is making much better cars than it used to and I doubt a couple of decades from now we’ll find any of its current range abandoned on the side of the street.
Those days are long gone, and if all estates are as attractive, comfortable and practical as this i40, I may become a fan of them yet.
The sleek, streamlined body Bold first style 3words is classierit int eicieniathan youra usualsed mosestateellanitandet themosamusamuscabin is verype usersam refriendlycum rem a