WITH its stylish European looks, modern appeal and thoughtful comforts, it is little wonder that the ix35 is proving such a hit around the world. In fact, such is its popularity that waiting lists exceeding three months are common.
It's especially interesting and testament to Hyundai's growing popularity that in a class brimming with possibilities people are happy to wait.
The ix35 was the first of Hyundai's new new “fluidic design” philosophy and the swooping design, hexagonal grille, sweeping light and sporty rear has made it one of the best looking compact SUVs around.
The design of the ix35 ensures maximum headroom and is spacious enough to accommodate tall adults in the back seat. But the sloping roofline intrudes on the vertical boot space and the rising beltline makes it difficult for the littlies to see out.
Seating in the Elite is a mixture of cloth and leather and a comfortable, supportive offering.
The steering wheel, a good looking four-spoke design, is now adjustable for both reach and rake and combines with a six-way power adjustment on the driver's seat to provide that optimum position of comfort.
The interior is well laid out and functional with funky blue lighting to add interest. Storage is more than decent but plastics tend to be a bit on the hard side.
On the road
Our test car was powered by a 2.4-litre petrol six-speed automatic which was lively with a tendency to fall away if not checked. The steering is a bit light and it leads with its nose through corners but the overall ride is solid and pleasurable.
The Elite boasts an automatically activated all-wheel drive system which under normal circumstances distributes power to the front wheels reducing fuel consumption. But if those wheels start to lose grip, power is then sent to the rear to balance the ride. There is also a driver selectable AWD lock that allows for a 50-50 torque split in slippery or off-road conditions. The ix35 is rather noisy when pushed but is happy to deliver.
What do you get?
Hyundai say that value for money is always at the forefront during the design process and the ix35 is a pretty good reflection of this.
Creature comforts include keyless entry, climate control, parking sensors, roof rails and dusk-sensing headlights to name a few.
USB and iPod connectivity is possible but Bluetooth is strangely absent.
The Elite is equipped with ABS, brake force distribution, six airbags and stability and traction control.
There is also hill-start assist to minimise backward roll and downhill brake control to help maintain control on steep declines without the need to brake.
Take your pick from the Nissan Dualis ($30,990), Holden Captiva 5 ($30,990), Mitsubishi Outlander ($35,740), Mazda CX7 ($36,370) or Kia Sportage ($32,490).
The ix35 has the space, comfort and performance to rank as a good option for both families and individuals.
It may be an AWD but ground clearance at 170mm is minimal and is best suited for city driving with the occasional foray on dirt roads.
We found the Elite pretty heavy on the gas. Hyundai claims 12.4 litres/100km in urban surroundings and that would be quite accurate. Of course, highway driving is much more economical.
It comes with a five-year unlimited distance warranty.
There is little doubt the ix35 will turn heads.
With sales soaring the ix35 is proving a more than able replacement for the Tucson. It is spacious, with generous inclusions and pretty good road manners.
In all honesty, our pick would be the ix35 Highlander, a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel which we drove previously and found to be a tighter product.
But if you happen to prefer petrol over diesel, then the Elite should get a look in.
Model: Hyundai ix35 Elite.
Details: Five-door all-wheel drive compact SUV.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Engine: 2.4-litre in-line four-cylinder DOHC generating maximum power of 130kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 227Nm at 4000rpm.
Consumption: 9.2 litres/100km combined average.
Bottom line: $31,990.
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