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  • Standard equipment; nice interior with plenty of space and a large boot; torquey and efficient diesel; five-year warranty
  • Steering lacks precision; ride quality lacks compliance and control; average handling; no rear-seat air vents; diesel can be noisy

6 / 10

Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
by Jez Spinks

Europe’s car sales slump is having a positive knock-on effect for Australia’s importers at least, with the Hyundai ix35 one of the beneficiaries.

Proving to be significantly more popular than the Tucson it replaced in early 2010, Hyundai Australia has taken advantage of a freeing up of supply on the Continent to help meet local demand.

That advantage is the Hyundai ix35 Special Edition, a model built in the Czech Republic rather than South Korea where every other version of the small SUV comes from.

The SE model is based on the ix35’s entry-level trim, Active, and costs from $29,990 in 2.0-litre front-wheel-drive petrol form or from $34,990 for diesel all-wheel drive.

This is the only ix35 grade where you’ll find glovebox cooling, heated rear seats and projector beam headlights.

An Active diesel isn’t available in the regular range, either, but over the petrol Active the SE gains 17-inch wheels with alloy rather than steel rims, leather/leatherette seats, tinted rear glass, auto-dimming rear view mirror incorporating rear-view camera, heated front seats and side mirrors that can be folded electrically.

Justifying the $5000 premium for the diesel over the petrol SE is going to be focused more on driveability – and whether you need AWD – than fuel economy.

The ix35 diesel claims to use only a litre less per 100km than the petrol – 7.5 v 8.5L/100km.

Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition

The contrast between the two engines is otherwise stark, though. Where the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol offers 122kW and 197Nm, and is rather underwhelming, the 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder not only has a bit of extra power with 135kW but more importantly almost double the torque output – 392Nm.

Combined with a six-speed auto that is active enough without being overly busy to keep the engine in the peak-torque zone between 1800 and 2500rpm and you have a mix that delivers the kind of everyday real-world performance that matters most to motorists.

The Hyundai ix35 diesel is brisk off the mark at junctions or roundabouts, and has the easy mid-range shove that ensures overtaking and moves into traffic spaces are off the minimal-stress type.

It’s rarely less than a noisy affair, however. Diesel clatter is especially loud at idle, and even once moving the ix35 CRDi rattles way on a light throttle.

Tyre roar from the ix35 SE’s 225/60 17-inch Kumho Solus rubber also gets progressively louder from around town (where it’s below average) to country roads (where it can overwhelm conversations).

Driving the Hyundai ix35 SE reveals how closely Hyundai Australia matched its local suspension tuning to the European approach, though this isn’t a good thing.

The SE suffers from virtually identical ride and handling issues to ix35s we’ve driven previously here.

Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition

Head onto a typical Australian country road and Hyundai’s small SUV bucks and rolls over undulations and cambers, displaying a lack of body control unexpected from the otherwise too-firm set-up.

The steering is more consistent than that of the schizophrenic helm in big-brother Santa Fe, though there’s rack rattle over mid-corner bumps.

It also lacks the smoothness of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Mazda CX-5 that are the best to steer among the ix35’s peers.

It does allow you to hold a line accurately enough once committed to a corner, but the ix35 is initially lethargic on turn-in and the rear end seems similarly reluctant to follow.

There’s good traction from the ix35’s on-demand all-wheel-drive system, though grip from the tyres themselves starts to run out at the front end if you start to drive more spiritedly.

Around town, the Hyundai ix35 has less suppleness than some sports cars we could name and the result is a ride that is consistently bumpy and occasionally harsh when sharper surface irregularities are encountered.

Hyundai Australia is working on ix35 chassis tuning ahead of a facelifted model arriving later this year. If the company can find vastly improved ride comfort at a minimum, it will complement the areas where the SUV is strong.

And many of those positives revolve around the cabin.

Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition

It’s true that most of the interior plastics of the Hyundai ix35 are of the rock-hard variety, but the choice of surface textures ensures a quality look, if not feel, to the cabin. A case can also be made for their long-term durability.

The main dash, for example, features pimpled plastic that mimics a softer-touch texture, and padded materials are in key places such as door armrests and console bin lid, while the SE also features a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearlever.

We’re always fans of window and mirror switches that are angled conveniently for the driver, and other controls are easy to reach and locate.

Plenty of space for storing items about the cabin, too, and the dual grab-handles where the centre console meets the bottom of the centre stack are a neat offroader-style design cue.

The driving position is a touch upright and less car-like than the Santa Fe’s, while the seat is also a little flat.

The main negative in the rear seats is a lack of air vents, though there’s good legroom for what is one of the smaller SUVs in the market and three adults wouldn’t complain too much about being spread across the rear bench providing the trip wasn’t excessively long.

And heated (outer) rear seats is a rare feature in any vehicle.

Boot space is also impressive for the vehicle’s size (17mm shorter than even the 4410mm-long Tiguan).

At 591 litres, it comfortably fits a decent-sized pram, hides a full-size spare under the floor, and offers more cargo room behind the seats than the bigger CX-5 (403 litres) and Toyota RAV4 (506L), as well as the Tiguan (391 litres).

Its maximum cargo space isn’t quite as large as those rivals, though, and the 60/40 rear seats fold to an acute angle rather than completely flat.

The Hyundai ix35, then, offers a well presented and well packaged interior, in addition to a sound diesel engine.

And at $34,990 for the diesel SE, the Hyundai is sharply priced against direct rivals such as the CX-5 diesel ($39,990) and Tiguan 103TDI ($39,470), and comparable to the Mitsubishi ASX diesel (from $34,990) and twin Kia Sportage (from $35,990).

A lack of refined driving manners, however, costs the SUV crucial marks in a highly competitive segment.

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Hyundai ix35 Review: Special Edition
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  • pro346

    Why would anyone would buy this over the new vf wagon? Its ugly ,slow and not that great to drive….yeah you can get an awd model but you wouldn’t get very far off road with it did I mention its u-g-l-y

    • Dan

      Because ix35 is a compact SUV and VF wagon is a wagon. There aren’t many dearer compact SUV under $30,000 than this, which is a shame.

    • Henry Toussaint

      The 2.0L Diesel isn’t that bad for a diesel. Slower at 9.0 seconds. the Base VF Commodore. 7.6 seconds

      • guesto

        VF 3.0 0-100 is 7.6 seconds.

        • Henry Toussaint

          Oh yeah that’s right… I Shouldn’t take notice of the 9.0 second that car advice got…

    • Norm

      There’s plenty make the case for compact SUVs better than this one. Who will buy a VF wagon over the likes of a CX5 – RAV 4 – Outlander might be the question Holden are waiting to have answered?

  • guesto

    I drove one, I think you are better off spending $10,000 on a second hand family sedan – as this IX35 doesnt drive any better.

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, the ix35 is horrible to drive and is cheap and nasty and unrefined, you would have to be very very very thick to buy one over a tiguan, cx5 or kuga, or a even better mazda 6 wagon or skoda octavia wagon that is great value on runout at the moment

      • Sumpguard

        Tiguan is the most ridiculous excuse for an SUV ever made. How can they call something that has no load space a “utility” vehicle ? And it’s a bland heap as is the cx-5 which manages to look remarkably like the ix35 anyway.

        They are all a better choice than the Veedud which has been added to the list of Volkswagens with stall issues.

  • Martin

    How about updating those fugly tail lights and putting some LEDs into them? The IX35 has to be the most uninspiring and dated looking SUV in its class.

  • F1orce

    Yeah this is a very underwhelming SUV.

    I’d have to say them output numbers are probably overstated, as it doesn’t go like what the figures suggest, despite 6-speed.

  • Sam

    Still looks like a bloated toad.

  • hermes

    Well Jez, haven’t you done well by comparing the ix35 to vehicles that don’t represent the biggest competitor to the Hyundai in Europe in the compact SUV class. True, the Hyundai is an ugly and uncomfortable ride, where as the CX-5 is just ugly and overpriced but a good car. The Qashqai has outsold all these vehicles and yet you think it not worth a mention however, one of your colleagues states that Honda has targeted the Qashqai in Europe for the replacement CR-V. Not to worry because most experienced purchasers check the European reviews in this segment because that’s where they were first designed. Of course it took some time for Toyota to understand the market did not require each new model of it’s Rav 4 to be larger and have a much larger engine to be successful. Maybe you could advise anyone purchasing a CX-5 to buy the colour black, so as to reduce the ugly grille, and reassure the Tiguan buyers that all that extra money they paid over the Chek version was worthwhile, even if the Europeans don’t believe it.

    • Kieran

      Um, what relevance does the ix35’s competitors in Europe have for this? This review is aimed at Australian buyers. Australian buyers do not care about what cars are doing well in Europe, since those might be completely different to their local counterparts, due to being sourced from a completely different manufacturing location or having a specific tuning setup for local conditions. I have no idea why you’re so shocked at Jez doing his job properly – if you want to read a European review for a vehicle, then you’ve clearly come to the wrong site. That’s not even mentioning how ridiculous it is for you to act as if Europe was a completely homogeneous region through and through. People from different countries have different general needs and preferences. Plus, for some of these vehicles you’ve mentioned, you’d know that European countries come second to North America in terms of volume of sales, so lets not act as if Europe is the be-all, end-all, mmkay?

  • Ruqis

    dead ugly inside and out, god awful dynamics and a lack of refinement. just makes you wonder why these things are as popular as they are?
    this is one of the worst SUV you can get, if not the worst. its seriously awful in every aspect. the ride is harsh, the engine sounds terrible, grainy and harsh, the interior is horrible, looks ancient and materials are super cheap and the leather seats are the worst in the business, they are too hard for leather. windscreen wipers are the cheap type also

    exterior sheet metal is far too thin and the paint has a peeling problem, especially in black or white.

    they must be giving these out for free for them to be this popular

  • Tony Abbotts No1 Fan

    This car was ugly when it first came out & time hasn’t done any favours, it’s ugly & it also looks like it would tip over in a cross wind

  • Sammo

    Styling is starting to date, have never been a fan of the look of this car, much prefer the cleaner styling of Santa-Fe. Great value however!

  • drew

    i ended up getting the mid range outlander LS demo for $26,000 with auto+extras, better drive than this and not really bad looking at all

  • Pamela Williams-Scurry

    I have been looking for the ix35 ice blue concept Tucson SUV, wanted this SUV before
    Sept 22, for my birthday, however no dealership seem to know how to get one. I want every detail just the same. can you help please advise. otherwise my heart will be broken and I will have to get the GLK-MBZ

  • PEd

    hi friends ‘ how much is that in UAE ?

Hyundai ix35 Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$23,320 - $26,500
Dealer Retail
$24,240 - $28,820
Dealer Trade
$18,300 - $21,200
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
392Nm @  1600rpm
Max. Power
135kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1600  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/60 R17
Rear Tyres
225/60 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Multi-link system, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Traction Control System
Reversing Camera, Trip Computer
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Rear Spoiler
Power Windows
Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Optional Features
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
12 months /  15,000 kms
60 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Pass Side Under Front Seat
Country of Origin
Czech Republic