| BUYERS GUIDE
HYUNDAI IX35 - April 2015
Market leadership came quickly for this well-specified SUV.
In early 2010 the ix35 replaced the original Hyundai Tucson that was launched in 2004, but in some global markets the name ‘Tucson’ was retained. When the ix35 was replaced in Australia in the third quarter 2015 the Tucson name was restored.
The ix35 styling departed from the traditional ‘two-box’ hatchback shape into a more space-efficient and more streamlined wedge. The AWD versions came in two trim levels: Elite and top of the range Highlander.
Across the range, the driver’s seat offered six-way electric adjustment and electric lumbar support. Added seating conveniences included a second row armrest with dual cup holders and multiple seating layout configurations.
Elite models had leather and cloth upholstery and the top of the range Highlander featured all-leather seating.
ix35 Elite models came standard with the Theta II 2.4-litre DOHC in-line four-cylinder engine. The 2.4 Theta II engine delivered around the same amount of power and acceleration as its predecessor’s V6 engine, with 16 percent better fuel economy than the old four-cylinder engine.
Available in either Elite or Highlander models, the 2.0-litre R-series turbo-diesel engine produced 135kW of peak power and 392Nm of torque and was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The ‘R-series’ engine featured third-generation Bosch common rail injection, with, piezo-electronic injectors delivering fuel at 1800 ba. It also had an electronically controlled variable-geometry turbocharger.
AWD models consisted of ix35 Elite with 2.4-litre petrol and six-speed auto, ix35 Elite with 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and six-speed auto, and ix35 Highlander with 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and six-speed auto.
A full-time electronic AWD system automatically controlled power distribution in ix35 AWD model variants. The AWD ECU detected varying road surface conditions and driving inputs, distributing optimum driving force between the front and rear wheels.
In August 2012 the ix35 Elite scored auto and dual-zone climate control; an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror with auto-dimming and electronic compass.
Elite and Highlander models were fitted with a Hyundai Satellite Navigation system, featuring SUNA live traffic updates and a rear-view camera.
For 2014 Hyundai upgraded the market-leading ix35. The ix35 Series II had exterior upgrades, including new projector headlights with LED positioning lights,
aerodynamic roof rails and new wheel designs.
Inside, there were two-way adjustable split rear bench seats.
The petrol 2.4L Theta 2.4L GDI engine power was increased to 136kW (up 6kW) and torque was 240Nm (up 13Nm).
The ix35 Series II also had standard Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming, six-speaker audio including tweeters, steering wheel audio controls, USB auto input with iPod compatibility, auxiliary audio input jack and rear roof-mounted aerial.
On and off road
Our test ix35 was a 2014 Elite diesel model that we drove on freeways and around town, on gravel roads and on some average fire trails. With around a half load It averaged between 6 litres per 100km and 7L/100km in these conditions.
The engine had some diesel 'rattle' at idle, but this was more evident outside the vehicle than inside. Noise levels inside when under way were very low.
The multi-adjustable driver's seat and tilting-telescoping steering made getting comfortable easy, even for quite tall and very short drivers. Adult back seat pasengers liked the adjustable back rests and centre arm rest.
We found seat folding simple and appreciated the centre lap/sash belt's disconnection function when the belt wasn't required.
The cargo area was spacious and the floor height was fine, even with a full-sized spare wheel underneath.
Fit and finish were exemplary and a far cry from the early Korean-SUV efforts.
The diesel had ample grunt for sparkling performance and shift quailty from the six-speed box was excellent.
Steering, ride and handling were bitumen-oriented, but the ix35 handled mild corrugations without excessive drumming and bump-steering. We'd have liked a little more steering-wheel feedback on loose gravel surfaces.
Braking was powerful and vice-free, and the ABS/EBD system was well calibrated for loose and wet surface stops.
The projector headlights looked the part, but had feeble high beams that were totally inadequate for country driving.
Off road ability was what we expected from a medium-sized SUV: not in the Ford Territory/Freelander class, but on a par with its main competitors. Ground clearance and overhangs were OK for modest fire trail driving.
After a week-long test of the Hyundai ix35 it was easy to see why it has suceeded so well in the Australian SUV market.
2016 Tucson preview
The All-New Tucson AWD models will be available in the Australian market with a new turbocharged, petrol,1.6-litre T-GDI engine with130 kW, coupled to a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (7DCT) or a six-speed manual.
The current diesel engine will carry over, with Euro 6 emissions compliance and probably mated to the existing six-speed auto box.
The specification levels in Europe include heated and ventilated front seats, with longer seating cushions for enhanced support and comfort; a powered
tailgate that opens at the approach of the key-holder and Smart Parking Assist System (SPAS) with parallel and bay parking functions.
Hyundai Motor Company Australia also plans to introduce Apple CarPlay and Android Auto across the Tucson range, meaning that every new Tucson will be navigation-capable and will use Siri or Google Voice for its interface.
Full Australian vehicle specifications will be confirmed closer to the on-sale date in the third quarter of 2015.
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