Arguably best Hyundai to date and certainly the best-looking, the i40 wagon aims to draw people from sedans and hatches, and take the fight to segment leader, the Mazda6.
The i40 was designed in Hyundai's Russelheim studio to appeal to European buyers, and this is an all-new, sharp body with strong visual character that stops short of Hyundai's often OTT curves and creases. We get a 2.0-litre 130kW, 213Nm petrol engine or a 100kW/330Nm 1.7-litre diesel corralled by a six-speed auto with paddle shift and sport mode, or a six-speed manual for the entry-level diesel.
Hyundai claims a 7.5l/100km thirst for its petrol cars, while the diesel manual introduces BlueDrive, with increased economy obtained via stop-start. The result is a 4.5l/100km claim for the manual diesel and from 5.6 for its auto siblings.
Our spirited driving got an 8.8l/100km average from the petrol Elite and 6.8 from the diesel car. The i40 has what Hyundai calls amplitude selective dampers, designed to cope well with oscillating roads. Forget the soggy-handling Hyundais of old, they've been tuned in Australia - not NZ, as the ads suggest.
Standard and Elite specifications for each of the two engines will soon be joined by an Elite Ltd for the diesel.
The $44,990 standard comes with nine airbags, ABS and ESP, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, cornering brake control, a speed limiter and static bending lights that help see round corners. The Elite adds a 4.2-inch thin film screen, front and rear park sensors and a reversing camera, keyless start and seat warmers front and rear, while the Elite Ltd tops the line-up at $59,990 and includes a panoramic sunroof, luggage rails, a powered tailgate, heated and cooled seats and heated steering wheel.
What we say
The spacious cabin of the i40 has pleasant materials, is nicely put together with good ergonomics and comfy seats. The boot varies from 553 litres with all the seats in use to 1719 and comes with a standard luggage net, the whole providing a comfortable environment for our extended launch drive.
On the road
The i40 handles well, with a ride compliant enough to cope with bumpy Coromandel back roads and a composure that will please most drivers. The steering feels slightly remote but you soon adjust, the whole engine-suspension-brakes package well able to compete in this class. The diesel is my pick, for what you lose in top-end power you gain in torque, with plenty of pull at almost any real-world speed you care to choose. There's not too much engine or road noise either.
Why you'll buy one
It's handsome, with generous specification and frugal engines.
Why you won't
Ford's Mondeo is slightly more talented.