Hyundai i45 review
It’s already been dubbed the ‘Camry Killer’ by some of the world’s motoring press, but that’s a big call considering Toyota’s mid-size family player has been a best seller in some of the world’s largest car markets, for more than a few years.
That said you’d be a brave person to bet against the world’s fastest growing car company, who clearly has the world’s largest carmaker in their sights.
The Hyundai i45 is Hyundai’s latest creation and first impressions are that it will find plenty of buyers who have not previously considered the Korean brand as a ‘blue chip’ alternative to those offerings from Japan.
Speak to anyone who owns a Hyundai Getz, Hyundai i30, Hyundai iLoad or even Hyundai iMax, and you will most likely find a very happy group who will be quick to point out, that it won’t be the last car they purchase with a Hyundai badge.
And it’s the same story when you talk to car dealers, who not so long ago weren’t exactly lining up for a Hyundai franchise. But speak to those same dealers today and they’ll tell you it’s the ‘must have’ brand and that they’re on the waiting list.
Few will deny that the i45 is a great looking car from almost any angle, although the loud front grille treatment seems to polarise public opinion as far as the overall styling goes. Observe the car from a side on perspective though, and this mid sized family chariot bears a striking resemblance to the current Mercedes E-Class.
That’s not surprising after chatting with Design Manager, Andre Hudson, of the Hyundai’s Southern California design studio, who penned the exterior of the i45.
The design team closely examined individual models from prestige carmakers including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, with the goal of producing a car that would turn heads in the highly competitive midsize category.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Andre Hudson, he’s had some experience with ‘standout’ cars.
While at General Motors in the United States and the United Kingdom, he had a hand in the creation of the superb looking Opel GT (also known as the Saturn Sky), the Chevy SSR Ute, and the awesome 7.5-litre V12 powered Cadillac Cien Concept.
The Cien was a 2-door monster roadster (inspired by the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter plane), which developed a weapons grade 559kW (750 hp) and 610 Nm of torque and could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 412km/h.
While the i45 doesn’t offer quite such ballistic rates of acceleration, it is however adequately responsive and more than capable of reaching speeds well beyond our national speed limit.
But while the 2.4-litre 4-cylinder in-line GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine produces what can only be described as modest power and torque levels of 148kW and 250Nm respectively, the i45 has a secret weapon – weight, and not a lot of it.
Unbelievably, Hyundai’s latest addition to their ‘i’ series stable weighs in at an anorexic 1506 kilograms for the manual, and 1528 kilograms for the automatic.
To put that into perspective, most other four-door sedans in this category are lumbered with a kerb weight of more than 1600 kilograms, so what Hyundai has achieved with the i45 in the weight department is nothing short of staggering.
It’s also one of the principal reasons why a car of such sizeable dimensions is able to deliver fuel consumption numbers of 7.9-litres/100kms (combined) or as low as 6-litres/100km/h on the freeway, and that’s with automatic transmission.
Another key reason for the car’s exceptional fuel economy is the ultra low drag coefficient of 0.28 Cd, and again, many other cars in the category have to settle for a number above 0.30 Cd.
I know it’s classified as a mid-size contender, but you only need to sit in the back seat of the i45 to discover just how much room there is back there and how comfortable this car is for 4/5 adult passengers. More a large car feel in my book.
It’s the same story up front, plenty of that all-important elbow space between driver and front passenger and heaps of headroom for anyone but a giant.
Equal praise is to be showered on the interior design team, as even the entry-level ‘Active’ model is literally loaded with standard features normally found only in prestige cars.
For example, the upholstery is a combination of leather and fabric (more leather than fabric) while the mid-spec ‘Elite’ and high-end ‘Premium’ models come with full leather interior, which is beautifully supple and incredibly comfortable to sit on.
Standard inventory also includes six-airbags with Active Front Headrests; ESC Stability Control with TCS, ABS, EBD and BAS; Hill Start Assist Control (HAC); Dusk Sensing Headlamps; Front Fog lamps; LED Rear Combination Lamps, HMSL, Side Indicators; Hyundai Active Locking Operation; 16-inch Alloy Wheels with Full Size Spare; Dual Exhaust with Chrome Tip; Black Piano Finish Inserts on doors, centre fascia and vents; Cruise Control – steering wheel mounted (on automatic model) and USB audio input with iPod compatibility.
That’s a lot of gear for a base model car of this size under $30,000, and even better when you examine the high quality of the materials and switchgear employed on the i45.
The first car we drove was the ‘Elite’, which is the mid-spec car in model range although; you’d never know it from the level of luxury found in this car.
It’s also about the up-market interior styling in the i45, it’s considerably better than I expected and raises the bar big time in the mid-size category.
Apart from the all-leather interior, this spec adds 17-inch alloys with full size spare; Push Button Start with Proximity Smart Key; Automatic Climate Control; Rear Parking Sensors; Paddle Shifters – steering wheel mounted and Rain sensing wipers.
But if you’re in the market for the top shelf ‘Premium’ i45, then go ahead and add the Panorama glass roof with power one touch safety; 18-inch alloys; Amplitude Selective Dampers (ASD); Electrochromatic Rear View Mirror; Premium Audio (Woofer & AMP); Electric driver and passenger seats.
Not having to remove the remote fob from your pocket to open the door and start your car is a major convenience, so it’s a shame Hyundai have chosen to leave that feature off the base model i45, but I suppose that’s just one of the incentives for buyers to step up to the Elite.
That said hit the starter button, (which oddly enough is on the right hand side of the steering wheel unlike most other systems which are on the left hand side) and the smooth revving 2.4-litre petrol engine is barely audible at idle.
Prod the throttle and the response is instant, along with equally smooth and refined gear changes from Hyundai’s own proprietary six-speed automatic transmission. It’s a sealed unit filled with transmission fluid and good for the life of the car, meaning there is no dipstick.
There’s not a lot of torque early on in the rev range, so you’ll need to punch it when entering a freeway or climbing steep inclines, but overall the drivetrain delivers adequate performance around town.
There are no such issues on the highway with smooth sailing at 110km/h and excellent NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) levels with particularly good noise suppression from under the bonnet.
Once we hit the well-cambered twisty sections of semi-rural Queensland, it was time to enjoy the fast acting paddle shifters into and out of the corners, as the downshifts are particularly quick and sporty in character.
The i45 uses a hydraulic power assisted steering unit, which is well weighted at speed and easy going when negotiating city parking spots.
Ride quality while being firm is never harsh and is generally complaint, even over those nasty metal speed bumps. That can be a characteristic of McPherson Struts, which are employed up front, while a more sophisticated multi-link set up at the rear, producing reasonable handling through those twisty sections.
Braking on board the i45 is well sorted, with excellent and reassuring pedal feel in all situations.
There’s some body roll if you push the car on windy terrain, and the rear end can feel a touch light and not as planted as I had hoped for. That said we were driving on wet and slippery roads, and the car still had plenty of grip, while the electronic stability control worked well to keep the car in check when traction was lost.
Of course, it only becomes an issue when the car is pushed at speed and that’s something that the average family or retiree couple probably won’t be doing in this car’s lifetime. At least I would hope not.
Cargo storage certainly won’t be a problem, as the boot space is huge as well as being deep. And like all Hyundai’s, there’s a tonne of small storage spaces throughout the i45.
The i45 unquestionably raises the bar in the midsize category and no longer will families have to put up with anything less than a first class ride, at a price less than what would normally be expected for such impressive levels of quality and style.
- Hyundai i45 Elite 2.4-litre GDI Petrol automatic ($34,490)
- Hyundai i45 Premium 2.4-litre GDI Petrol automatic ($37,990)
Car Advice will bring you a complete road test of the new i45 in the coming weeks.