GoAutoLogo
MENU

Car reviews - Hyundai - i45 - sedan range

Our Opinion

We like
Exterior and interior design, build quality, overall refinement, standard equipment list, engine performance and efficiency, improved body control, cabin space and ergonomics
Room for improvement
Pronounced steering kickback and rack rattle, more expensive pricing, foot-operated parking brake, gooseneck bootlid hinges, tyre noise on coarse surfaces, engine noise at high revs

Hyundai logo14 May 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

YOU’D be forgiven for forgetting Hyundai already offers a reasonably stylish, well-specified sedan in Australia’s resurgent mainstream mid-size car market, because the fact is the outgoing Sonata was the latest in a series of medium sedans from the Korean giant that failed to sway significant numbers of buyers away from its far more accomplished Japanese and European rivals.

Hyundai hopes that will change with the Sonata’s successor, which will be known in Australia as the i45 and also dispenses with its predecessor’s generic styling and pedestrian engines for a sleek new Californian-inspired design and an all-new Theta II direct-injection 2.4-litre petrol four.

Matched as standard in all but the entry-level Active manual with a slick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission, the direct-injection engine is crisp, refined and responsive all the way to its 6600rpm redline, although auto versions limit it to 6000rpm.

First seen in last year’s upgraded Santa Fe, Hyundai’s own new auto is accompanied by well-sorted and intuitive steering wheel paddle shifters in the auto-only Elite and Premium variants (which also score push-button, keyless starting), but can produce a degree of gear-hunting between the fairly wide ratios when left to its own devices during keen driving.

There’s enough bottom-end torque for the i45 to feel brisk off the line, while midrange and top-end power delivery is also impressive without being outstanding. The i45 is among the class leaders in terms of fuel economy too, but it’s certainly not the quietest engine in this category as the revs rise.

That said, the i45 cabin is generally a quiet, classy place to be, with a liberal dose of soft-touch surfaces and well bolstered leather-trimmed seats offering plenty of lateral support and a wide range of adjustment, even if we’d have preferred a bit more reach extension from the beautifully crafted four-spoke multi-function leather steering wheel.

It’s a shame the mid-range Elite’s power seat upgrade makes do without the manual height adjuster on the passenger seat in the base model and the fitment of a foot-operated parking brake in all auto models is even more disappointing.

Otherwise, the i45 cabin is highly ergonomic, with plenty of well-sized storage space in the lockable glovebox, centre armrest tub and oversized door compartments, which comprise integrated bottle holders.

However, it escapes us why Hyundai has persisted with out-dated, space-robbing gooseneck bootlid hinges in an age when even the pint-sized Mazda2 sedan comes with multi-link hinges mounted outside the load space.

Headroom both front and rear (even with the flagship model’s standard sunroof) and vision in all directions is excellent despite the coupe-like roofline, while plenty of legroom and effective climate-control outlets look after rear passengers better than in many other medium sedans.

Surprisingly, although the i45 interior had input from a number of Hyundai’s six global design studios but was finalised in Korea, the edgy wedge-shaped exterior design was produced solely in the US.

Highlights include a chromed four-piece lower window trim strip that extends to the headlights, a prominent shoulder crease that rises from the front wheel-arches to the tail-lights and wraps around the rear corners, and a V-shaped bonnet feature that extends down to the boldly chromed three-bar grille with oversized Hyundai badge.

The contemporary dash design - with ‘vacuum fluorescent display’ instrument gauges - looks upmarket even in the mid-spec Elite (we didn’t drive the entry-level Active, which arrives here in July) - the major controls and push buttons in which also have a quality feel - but the integrated digital audio/clock/outside temperature display in Premium models is far classier than the smaller mono-tone LCD panel in downstream variants.

And there’s no doubt the i45 is one of the best-value medium sedans on the market, offering a range-wide standard features list that's unrivalled by any of its foes and includes 16-inch alloys, an alarm, hill-holder, trip computer, auto headlights, foglights, remote audio controls, iPod connectivity and partial leather trim.

Despite the fact the Sonata replacement no longer undercuts its key Japanese rivals, its avant-garde exterior and interior styling, impressive overall refinement, high-quality fit and finish and strong performance and economy credentials may be enough to attract many more buyers than its forebear did.

But Hyundai’s latest mid-size passenger car still falls short in terms of ride/handling compared to the newest members of the segment, including Mazda’s facelifted Six and Suzuki’s outstanding new Kizashi, which set new dynamic benchmarks when it was launched last week.

Yes, the i45 brings marked improvements in body control over the Sonata and combines a solid-feeling bodyshell with refreshingly firm suspension and well-sorted damping to be composed and sure-footed over a wide range of Aussie roads.

Hyundai says an extensive local development program resulted in increased compression damping at both ends and increased high-speed rebound damping at the front-end, but the fact is the i45 suspension is softer and allows more bodyroll than the Kizashi, yet doesn’t ride as well as the surprisingly slick Suzuki or Mazda’s highly regarded Six.

Similarly, Hyundai Australia also specified the sportier of two global hydraulic steering tunes available to it, affording 10-15 per cent less power assistance for a weightier, sportier steering set-up.

Okay, so the i45 steers better than the Sonata it replaces, feeling super-stable at speed and keeping torque steer well at bay, but it still lacks the precision and feedback of a Camry – let alone the leaders in this class – and the merest hint of a mid-corner ripple sends shockwaves directly back through the steering wheel in the form of incessant steering rack rattle and sometimes violent kickback.

Undoubtedly, steering is the weakest link in an otherwise polished package that is more upmarket than any previous medium sedan from Hyundai – not just in terms of interior and exterior design and build quality but also price, which could be an even more pivotal factor in the i45’s success in Australia.

Share with your friends

Enquire on or Test Drive a New i45

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires

Agreement

This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
close
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only
*** Prices exclude on road costs and dealer delivery fees

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.