The Numbers

2.4-litre petrol 4cyl, 136kW, 240Nm, 9.8L/100km, 1585kg.

The Topgear Verdict

Capable as ever and still proves why it's so loved. Now it just gets you places quicker and uses less fuel.

2013 Hyundai ix35

A new ix35? These things are everywhere!

It’s the biggest selling small SUV in Australia - the second biggest selling SUV overall – and in fact, there are so many of them pouring out of the showroom and onto the road that Hyundai has struggled to keep pace – they’ve had to turn to factories in both Korea and the Czech Republic just to produce enough cars to meet demand.

So if the current model is so popular, why are they replacing it?

It’s more an upgraded model – a pretty heavily upgraded model – than an all new car. Think of it as the same, but better.

You intrigue me, sir. Elaborate.

For a start, there’s a new line-up of direct injection petrol motors pressed into service – the entry-level Nu 2.0L GDI, and the more impressive Theta II 2.4L GDI. The Nu goes in the base model Active, and the Theta II goes in the mid-range Elite and the top spec Highlander. The Active, with the 122kW 205Nm Nu mill, is front wheel drive, and is really a city car only; the manual is a very tempting $27K, and in the auto, you can flatten the accelerator and it will hold each gear all the way to the redline – it’s the bravest little auto box in town.

Hooray for the little gearbox that could!

Spend a bit more, though, and the 136kW 240Nm Theta II is a much more useful engine – we didn’t need to crush the throttle to get some zip out of it, and the transmission (auto only) is all wheel drive to boot. In the Elite and the Highlander, you can also option a 2.0L diesel with all wheel drive, which is turns out a hearty 392 torques – I wouldn’t cross the Top End in it, but it’s pretty capable for a soft roader. All in all, the range goes from the manual FWD 2.0L Active at $26,990, to the six-speed auto AWD 2.0L diesel Highlander at $40,490.

Okay, I think I got all that…

It’s not just the engines that have changed though – the suspension has been tuned for local conditions, and has changed from a solid mount to a flexible bush system, which sounds like a French yoga teacher but isn’t, sadly. It all makes for a more comfortable ride, as well as settling faster over sharp bumps; and it’s quieter inside the cabin too, in both urban and freeway conditions. Hyundai has also tweaked the steering system, and the Series II’s turning circle feels remarkably small – useful for tight carparks, people who are frequently lost, and anyone trying to shake a tail.

When would I ever need to shake a tail? What am I, a spy?

I think they prefer the term “intelligence operative”. Anyway, we’re just saying you could, if you wanted to. Plus, if you turn the ix35 logo upside down, it says “sexi”.

Oh, well then, I’m sold. They should have called it the 58008.

Reviewed by: Tim Keen

Driven: November 14, 2013