Words and pics: Alborz Fallah and Karl Peskett
The new 2011 Hyundai i45 is the Korean company's answer to any and all criticism of the original model launched last year.
When the original Hyundai i45 launched last year, it revolutionised the medium-car segment. It put the fear of God into the Japanese and started a new era (once again) for Korean manufacturers.
As always, looks are entirely subjective but it's worth seeing a Hyundai i45 in person before judging, as they look much better in the metal.
The idea was to reduce body roll when cornering and stop pitch under heavy braking. Has it worked? The short answer is yes.
Alas, so important was the media criticism to the Koreans that they had to improve the model and buyers will no doubt benefit from it.
Driven around the same twisty mountain roads of Brisbane’s Mount Glorious where the vehicle was first launched in Australia, any car enthusiast can easily tell the 2011 model has been significantly fine-tuned over its predecessor.
Thanks to thicker stabiliser bars (+1mm for the front and +3mm for the rear) the i45 doesn’t do much wrong around fast-corners either, and although some body roll is still apparent, there is no longer a sense of falling out of your seat. Better yet, the steering no longer fights you with mid-corner jolts or the feeling that it doesn’t want to do what you want it to. Tighter, faster corners can cause the tyres to howl in pain but grip is still plentiful.
As was said before, unless you plan on driving your i45 around twisty mountain roads at 8/10ths, none of what was just written is even applicable (so if you happen to have bought a 2010 model i45, don’t feel bad). However, no-one is going to criticise Hyundai for improving the i45’s ride and handling, making it more fun to drive. The update is essentially for those of us that just have to go as quickly as possible, even if poor-old grandma is on board.
To put it simply, it’s a neat package. Prices start from $29,590 for the Active manual and go all the way to $38,990 for the Premium automatic.
The six-speed transmission is engineered and built by Hyundai-Kia group and is one of the smoothest boxes you’ll find. It offers effortless gearshifts and is well-matched to the 2.4-litre four cylinder engine, plus it's adaptive, holding onto gear a bit longer when given some herbs. At low revs it glides from gear to gear creamily, and never shunts or clunks on kickdown.
Around town there is no shortage of power as the i45 gets up to speed very easily, on the highway it’s pretty much the same story with overtake manouevers being a stress-free procedure. Its powerband is relatively high, with peak torque made at 4250rpm and peak power at 6300rpm, but with four adults in the car it still hauls nicely around Brisbane’s hilly roads, making a bit of noise when pushed hard. And if driven sedately, you can easily achieve the combined fuel cycle figure of 7.9-litres/100km. On some long runs we saw it dip below the sevens.
Hyundai's mantra to offer the best product possible, by responding to criticism, ensures that its Australia-bound cars are better suited to our conditions than ever. Combine that with a five-year warranty and the i45 remains a popular car that clearly holds its own in the mid-sized segment.