We’ve had the 2017 Hyundai i40 Premium 1.7 CRDi 141PS Blue Drive in for review, Hyundai’s challenger to the Ford Mondeo. Is the i40 up to the task?
It’s more than six years since the Hyundai i40 arrived to challenge cars like the Ford Mondeo for the hearts and minds of company car drivers and private owners who still want a D-Segment saloon car (even if it looks more four-door coupe than three-box saloon).
At that point it was a big ask for the i40 to challenge the Mondeo; after all, Ford’s dominance of the sector in the UK for so long, and Hyundai’s past reputation as purveyors of cheap as chips budget cars, meant Hyundai had a big hill to climb.
But, as we discovered when we reviewed the i40 Tourer (the i40 Estate) in 2012, it really was a very good car and, despite not being as dynamic as the Mondeo, still offered an awful lot.
That lot was improved with a facelift for the i40 in 2015, when the i40 got better looking, better equipped and came with Hyundai’s growing reputation for delivering cars the match of any of the mainstream car makers.
But now, two years on from its facelift, can the Hyundai i40 still hold its ground against rivals from Ford, VW, Skoda et al?
Hyundai i40 Premium Inside and Out
The Hyundai i40 is a handsome car, easily as appealing as the competition and looks high-end mainstream with its decent 18″ alloys, sleek lines, black grille and satin chrome highlights.
The i40’s sculpted flanks and low-slung, almost coupe, looks do make the i40 a visually appealing car, and it certainly holds its own, despite just a facelift in the last five years.
Inside, in this range-topping i40 Premium, there are lots of toys and good, well-fitted, trim, although it is starting to look a bit dated alongside newer rivals..
That said, it’s still an appealing interior – solid and purposeful, rather than glitzy and funky – with toys like electric seats, heated seats, leather, Climate, auto lights and wipers, panoramic roof, privacy glass, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, DAB, parking sensors and parking system with rear view camera, Sat Nav and even a rear blind.
There’s also plenty of room for five up, with excellent leg room in the front and no transmission tunnel in the back, which makes it easy to get three real people in. The boot’s not a bad size, but access is a bit narrow.
Hyundai has decided that buyers of cars in this class are looking for economy and efficiency rather than outright performance and dynamics, so the only engine option on offer in the UK for the i40 is the 1.7 litre CRDi diesel.
Across almost all of the i40 range – and here on this i40 Premium – that means 139bhp and 250lb/ft of torque, not a huge amount admittedly, but it is enough to make the i40 seem livelier than it’s on paper figures would suggest and you never feel like the i40 is struggling.
What’s also hugely appealing is how quiet the i40 is; the diesel engine rarely intrudes – even when cold – and even when you’re foot down to overtake or joining a dual carriageway the engine is just there, doing its thing and without drama.
Cruising on motorways – as many rep-specced i40s will do – is a relatively peaceful and fuss-free event, although there does seem to be a bit more wind noise than you might expect. But that could be because there’s little engine noise to mask it.
As far as comfort is concerned, the i40 is very good, soaking up ridges on motorways, divots on back roads and potholes on urban roads with no fuss at all. But there is a downside to that comfort.
It does mean the i40 seems, certainly at first encounter, a bit less planted than you might want on back road blats. But actually, once you’ve played, it’s really quite capable.
Yes, it does have a bit more roll than some of the more dynamic competition, but it also has very good grip, turns in well, has decent brakes and a decent show of torque which, despite not the greatest amount of feel in the steering, means you can make very good progress and not need to visit the chiropractor after.
Frankly, for the target market of families and business users, the i40’s setup is perfectly judged.
The Hyundai i40 may not be the best-selling car in its class, but it’s the equal of anything else on offer. It’s a car that shows just how mature Hyundai now is as a brand, and how good they’ve got at giving its target demographic just what it wants.
Yes, there probably are still some brand snobbery negatives for the i40 – particularly in the more traditional buyers for D-Segment cars – but that’s really no reason not to take the i40 very seriously.
With prices from around £20k the i40 offers value for money, and if you want all the toys this £26.5k i40 Premium is still attractively priced.
But what’s most important for buyers is that it offers a combination of looks and refinement perfectly judged for either a business user blatting round the country or a family looking for a car which does just what they want.
It’s comfortable, refined, good looking, efficient, economical and it comes with a bullet-proof five year warrant too.The Hyundai i40 is also very easy to like, and very easy to live with.
What more could you want to add the i40 to your ‘check out’ list before you take the plunge on a D-Segment buy?
Hyundai i40 Premium Photo Gallery
Hyundai i40 Premium Tech Specs
- Engine: 1685cc, 139bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 10.3 seconds / Top Speed 126mph
- Economy: 60.1mpg – Official / 44.3mpg – Test
- Emissions: 123g/km
- Price: £26,560
- Test car supplied by Hyundai UK