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Driven: Hyundai ix35 gets mid-life makeover

Top of the tots: Hyundai’s ix35 is Australia’s best-selling small SUV so far this year.

Swift-selling Hyundai ix35 Series II gets local suspension tune and direct injection

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Hyundai logo30 Oct 2013

HYUNDAI has given its top-selling small SUV, the ix35, a mid-life pull-through with revised petrol engines, sharper steering, styling tweaks inside and out and a locally tuned suspension, among other improvements.

Direct injection has been introduced on the 2.0-litre and 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engines that now carry the GDi designation, while the manual gearbox available on the entry level ix35 Active gets an extra gear, taking it to six speeds.

Most ix35 Series II models also take a minor price hike of $200, with only the aforementioned Active front-wheel-drive base model holding its price, at $26,990 (plus on-road costs).

However, the Czech-built ix35 Special Edition models – the 2.0-litre petrol GDi SE and 2.0-litre CRDi SE – take a bigger hike, up $1000 over the prices at which they were introduced in March. They are now $30,990 for the front-wheel-drive petrol and $34,990 for the AWD diesel.

The entry level 2.0-litre petrol engine – from Hyundai’s Nu engine family – still delivers the same 122kW of power, but torque is up 8Nm to 205Nm.

Together with the new six-speed manual gearbox, the new powertrain delivers fuel consumption of 8.2 litres per 100km on the combined fuel cycle – a gain of about 0.3 litres per 100km.

The improvement is a marginal 0.2 litres per 100km on the 2.0-litre automatic ix35 Elite, for which the six-speed automatic transmission is carried over.

Power and torque gains are more pronounced for the fresh Theta 2.4-litre engine available on Elite and Highlander AWD grades, with power up 6kW to 136kW, and torque rising 13Nm to 240Nm.

However, the extra oomph comes at a cost, with fuel consumption jumping from 9.2L/100km to 9.8L/100kmThe alternative 2.0-litre diesel engine – dubbed CRDi – is carried over, retaining 135kW of power and 392Nm along with an unchanged combined fuel consumption test reading of 7.2L/100km.

Like fellow Korean company Kia, Hyundai Motor Australia has called on its local engineering resources to rework the suspension to better suit Australian conditions.

Revisions include different springs and stabiliser bars front and rear, along with flexible sub-frame mount to better isolate impact harshness and vibration.

The electric steering gets a faster 32-bit processor to deliver a more rapid response to steering inputs and better feedback. As well, the steering ratio has been reduced from 2.96 to a faster 2.86 turns lock to lock.

Exterior changes include projector-style headlights in place of the parabolic reflector units, along with LED daytime running lights on Elite and Highlander variants that also get new metal-look roof rails.

The 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels get a new look.

Inside, the base Active gets new woven seat upholstery, while Elite and Highlander acquire new soft-touch upper door trims. The 60/40 split rear seat gains two-stage recline.

Bluetooth phone and audio streaming are now standard on all ix35s, along with six speakers, steering wheel audio controls, USB input, iPod compatibility, auxiliary audio jack and roof-mounted aerial.

The Series II paint options are Phantom Black, Grey Titanium, Remington Red, Cobalt Coast, Atomic Orange, Sleek Silver and solid Pure White.

The ix35 is the top-selling small SUV in Australia so far this year, with 14,380 sales to the end of September.

Only the larger Mazda CX5, with 15,315 customers in the year to date, has found favor with more SUV buyers.

Hyundai ix35 Series II pricing*
Active 2.0L GDI 2WD$26,990
Active 2.0L GDI 2WD (a)$29,190
Special Edition 2.0L GDI 2WD (a)$30,090
Elite 2.0L GDI 2WD (a)$33,990
Elite 2.4L GDI AWD (a)$35,490
Special Edition 2.0L CRDi AWD (a)$35,990
Elite 2.0L CRDi AWD (a)$38,090
Highlander 2.4L GDI AWD (a)$38,090
Highlander 2.0L CRDi AWD (a)$40,490

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