December 20, 2014

Hyundai ix35 Review: Premium 2.0 CRDi 4WD (2012 / 2013)

We’ve got Hyundai’s compact SUV come crossover – the ix35 – with 4WD in for review this week. Is the 4WD premium worth the extra?

Exterior photo of blue Hyundai ix35 4WD reviewed


The Hyundai ix35 has been with us for three years now, and managed to turn the Tucson from a budget offering with limited appeal (apart from price) in to a serious competitor for cars like Ford’s Kuga and VW’s Tiguan.

Last year we had the ix35 in for review with the 1.7 litre diesel engine and front wheel drive, but although we were left impressed we did wonder if prodding near the top of the ix35 range with the 2.0 litre diesel and 4WD would offer a more lively, and practical, experience than the FWD version.

So Hyundai has sent us this week’s review car – the Hyundai ix35 Premium 2.0 CRDi 4WD with Media Pack – to have a play and find out if the price difference (a little under £3k) between the 1.7 CRDi with FWD and the 2.0 litre CRDI with 4WD is worth it.

Hyundai ix35 4WD 2.0 CRDi – inside and out

Hyundai aren’t daft, so when they launched the ix35 back in 2009 they made sure it looked like other compact SUVs on the market, even if they market it more as a crossover than a real SUV.

But that, almost generic, compact SUV design – mixed in with a bit of modern Hyundai design – certainly works. The ix35 looks every bit as good as the offerings from the competition, even if the latest offerings from Hyundai – like the new Santa Fe – have left the ix35 needing a bit of a mid-cycle facelift on the nose (which we expect to arrive later in 2013).

“The exterior is still a decently balanced offering with just the right amount of intent; not so butch it frightens off Hyundai’s target demographic, but butch enough not to look like a fey attempt at cashing in on the compact SUV trend.”

But there’s little to complain about in the package the ix35 offers, or in its design.

The exterior is still a decently balanced offering with just the right amount of intent; not so butch it frightens off Hyundai’s target demographic, but butch enough not to look like a fey attempt at cashing in on the compact SUV trend.

With a decent looking nose, almost coupe roofline, 18″ alloys and body coloured handles and mirrors, the ix35 looks properly premium and you wouldn’t be embarrassed to turn up at school to pick up the kids.

Inside is also modern Hyundai good, with good tactility to most of the finishes (but don’t scratch the more hidden trim as it’s a bit cheap – but who does?) with a nice, logical layout for the dash and controls.

This ix35 comes with the Hyundai Media Pack (one option you should tick) which adds a nice touchscreen SatNav with rear parking camera and a bunch of speakers for an extra £1,100. Not only is it a good little system, it makes the dash much more cohesive and intuitive.

But apart from the Media Pack, you don’t need to add much in the way of options. There’s lots included in the price including Cruise, leather and cloth trim (yes, we might opt for full leather if we were spending someone else’s money), heated seats all round, Dual Zone Climate, Panoramic Sunroof, Privacy glass, Keyless, auto wipers and much more.

Throw in comfy seats, enough legroom in the back to accommodate most for a decent length of time and enough room in the boot for plenty of stuff too, and even though the headline price is no longer the real bargain Hyundais once were, all that kit in a good looking compact SUV scores lots of ‘Good Buy’ points.

Interior photo of Hyundai ix35 4WDHyundai ix35 4WD 2.0 CRDi – Performance on the road

If you’re going to spend the extra money on the 2.0 CRDi with 4WD (you can’t get 4WD on the 1.7 CRDi) then the performance is what it’s about. Not necessarily the outright performance, but the extra grip you get from a 4WD setup.

Hyundai has opted for an ‘On Demand’ 4WD system for the ix35, which means that most of the time you’re still driving a FWD ix35. But the 4WD system is able to send a wodge of power to the back wheels too if it senses slip, which means you’re going to pull out of junctions in the rain and traverse muddy boot sale car parks without the front wheels scrabbling around for grip.

“Surprisingly, we also found the 2.0 litre with 4WD as economical as the 1.7 litre with FWD, perhaps because you don’t have to row it so hard to make progress.”

We struggled find much difference in handling between the FWD and 4WD ix35, although the extra grip if you push too hard does mean you can push on a bit more. The handling still defaults to understeer, but the extra grip – and extra horses from the 2.0 litre CRDi – do make this ix35 a more enjoyable drive.

It’s still not quick – 0-62mph is a quite leisurely 11.3 seconds – but if you keep it in the right rev band it does feel lively enough. Surprisingly, we also found the 2.0 litre with 4WD as economical as the 1.7 litre with FWD, perhaps because you don’t have to row it so hard to make progress. Hyundai say you should average 47.9mpg – we got 40.6mpg.

There is some noise coming in to the cabin from the quite noisy engine and some wind noise when you’re planted on the motorway, but none if it’s particularly intrusive.

Around town the ix35 is quiet and composed, copes with pitted and potholed roads well and the steering, although light and not offering huge feedback, is pleasantly direct and positive and makes the ix35 a very easy car to park. And it’s still the easiest compact SUV to drive, according to our resident driving numptie.

Hyundai ix35 4WD 2.0 CRDi – Verdict

In all the ways that matter – how it looks, how it drives and how much kit you get in the price – we’ve already declared the Hyundai ix35 as a worthy contender in the sector. So really, the verdict is about whether the extra money (just under £3k) for the 4WD and more powerful 2.0 litre CRDi is worth it.

“The extra grip when manoeuvring makes the ix35 4WD a nicer, and more relaxing car to drive and the extra oomph from the engine…is welcome.”

For us, it is. The extra grip when manoeuvring makes the ix35 4WD a nicer, and more relaxing car to drive and the extra oomph from the engine – although not hugely more powerful than the 1.7 litre – is welcome. And, certainly in our hands, the fact that the 4WD ix35 doesn’t seem to come with a penalty at the fuel pumps is a huge plus.

So if you are looking for a compact SUV and you have the ix35 on your test list (which you should) then make sure you try the 4Wd version as well as the FWD before you buy. Yes, it costs almost £3k more, but it offers a nicer driving experience without any penalty in running costs.

The Hyundai ix35 CRDi Premium 4WD looks to be the pick of the range for us.

Hyundai ix35 Premium 2.0 CRDi 4WD Quick Tech Specs

  • Engine: 1995cc, 134bhp
  • Performance: 0-62mph 11.3 seconds / Top Speed 112mph
  • Economy:  47.9mpg  – Official / 40.6mpg  – Test
  • Emissions: 154g/km
  • Price: £23,600 / Price as tested £25,195
  • Test car supplied by Hyundai UK

Hyundai ix35 Premium 2.0 CRDi 4WD Photos

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Tell us what you think - Leave a comment

  1. I have purchased the ix35 and I believe that it is a fantastic vehicle that was made. I am happy with the vehicle all round.

  2. Clever Car Buyer (@CleverCarBuyer) says:

    Another cracking innovative car from Hyundai!

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