The recently updated Hyundai i40 Tourer is one of many almost forgotten cars in the hugely competitive, but low-selling, mid-sized wagon market.
With the boom in medium SUVs, buyers are increasingly casting these Euro-centric wagon options into a wasteland. That could be a big mistake, take a closer look at the i40 Tourer and it could give you a lot to think about.
The German-designed Hyundai i40 went on sale in Australia in 2011 and received its first major update mid-last year. The i40 is available in sedan or Tourer guise with two trim levels, Active and Premium. The mid-spec Elite trim was dropped to simplify the line-up.
There are two engine options in the wagon, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol or a 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, both teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Here we test the i40 Tourer Premium diesel, which retails for $43,990 plus on-road costs. This puts it between the base Mazda 6 Touring wagon diesel ($41,440) and mid-range GT ($46,840).
Hyundai also offers the more US-centric petrol Sonata as a medium passenger car, so to help circumscribe each model, the i40 sedan is only available with a diesel engine and the Sonata isn't available as a wagon. Simples.
The Korean manufacturer is not only competing with itself, but the Tourer has to compete against rival wagons such as the aforementioned Mazda 6, plus the Ford Mondeo, Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Passat.
Given the Mazda was recently updated, and the Mondeo and Passat are still fresh on the scene, Hyundai has its work cut out.
Hyundai calls its design language Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 and describes it as organic and inspired by nature with a focus on curves not angles. Its predecessor, Fluidic Sculpture 1.0, was bolder than the current design identity and its aim was to make a statement and create instant recognition for the brand.
The focal points are the large grille and the angled headlights. This i40 is the Premium specification and it scores LED headlights, indicators, daytime running lights and fog lamps. It also gets bigger 17-inch wheels.
The sweeping line along the side of the tourer and the gently sloping roofline give it a bit of attitude and a ‘surfy’ vibe. The Tourer is only 30mm longer than the sedan but 300mm longer than the i30 Tourer.
Another interesting comparison between the smaller i30 wagon and this one is the boot space. With the rear seats up there is actually less space in the boot, 506 litres versus the i30 Tourer's 528L. Even the i40 sedan still has 505L. However, with the rear seats folded down the i40 Tourer’s figures are more what you'd expect, at 1672L. The Premium Tourer also gets a power tailgate, full-size spare wheel and sliding cargo barrier.
Inside the cabin it feels modern and well-presented. There's a seven-inch touchscreen with satellite-navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity as well as a CD player and MP3 capability.
The system is very simple to use and the buttons on screen are large and clear. I particularly liked the sat-nav, it's one of the easiest when it comes to entering a destination. Kia uses the same system with a different colour theme.
All i40s are equipped with a reverse-view camera as well as front and rear parking assist. The touchscreen (a smaller 4.3-inch unit in the Active) and rear view camera are both now standard across the range.
When it comes to safety features this has a lane keep assist system that nudges the steering wheel to remind you to stay between the lines if it thinks you're straying, but it tends to be a little spasmodic. It can also park itself in a reverse parallel fashion thanks to the inclusion of the smart parking assist system.
Other ancillary features include proximity key, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control and a 4.2-inch TFT screen between the instrument cluster dials.
One thing we noted — the air vents have been placed at quite an angle on either side of the centre stack, and while this may suit the front passenger the steering wheel tends to block the airflow for the driver and the temperature controls are located in an awkward place behind the steering wheel.
The seats are leather-appointed and heated but no longer ventilated; the rear seats also now miss out. The panoramic glass roof robs a bit of headroom in the back but creates a light and airy feel in the cabin. There is a decent amount of room for rear passengers, it's a growing-family friendly size. That said, it feels marginally tighter than the cavernous Mondeo.
The seat base is nice and flat, meaning middle the passenger won't have to straddle a raised and awkward bump, the shape of the seats provides a bit of extra under-thigh support for outboard passengers and there are rear air vents as well as a 12V outlet.
The 1.7-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine produces a modest 104kW and 340Nm, but it’s relaxed and refined for an oil-burner. It’s also efficient, with fuel economy a claimed 5.1 litres per 100km . We recorded 7-7.5L/100km over a number of trips.
Matched is a brand new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) in place of the old six-speed with torque converter. It has a few little moments of hesitancy at low speeds, but the relaxed diesel drivetrain helps.
You'll also feel the odd downshift on hill climbs, since this diesel engine isn’t exactly the last word in muscular torque delivery.
The steering is light but fairly accurately tuned, it can tend to feel a little airy around the centre and gets cumbersome under lots of lock. It can take a little while to get used to the sensitivity of the brakes; they're a little touchy particularly at low speed when coming to a standstill.
The Hyundai i40 Premium Tourer diesel costs $43,990 before on-road costs, you’ll get a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with a lifetime-capped price-servicing plan with servicing due every 12 months or 15,000 km.
The Hyundai i40 Tourer is too often overlooked option, great cargo space, and room for the family or a few surfboards on weekends. In Premium spec it also looks sharp, has everything you need, and if you take it for a drive you might just be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Christian Barbeitos.