They may only have 1bhp, but that's all these angry little cars need...
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The Top Gear car review:Hyundai i40
For:An accomplished all-rounder with a broad spread of talents
Against:It's not particularly sporty. Does that matter? No
1.7 CRDi Blue Drive Premium 4dr
What we say:
Able, stylish i40 aims to take on the establishment with a blend of good looks, ability and keen pricing
What is it?
The i40 is a measure of how serious a player Hyundai is these days. Sister company Kia took a US-sourced Optima and twisted it to a European-friendly spec. Hyundai, though, went one better, by designing a car solely for us, in the country where all the leading premium saloons come from – Germany. The i40 saloon and Tourer estate are thus the result of some concerted thinking and aim to take on the Ford Mondeo at its own game – and win.
This is a genuinely competitive Hyundai, and the firm’s being duly combative with it. A bulging range of trims and engines are all bang on the money, literally and figuratively: the spec is right and CO2 is right, as Hyundai judges exactly what the market wants, and delivers it.
Although it has been developed in Germany, this is not a sporting saloon with the pent-up sportiness of, say, a BMW 3-Series. Hyundai has instead sensibly prioritised everyday comfort and riding refinement instead, meaning that it delivers a very impressive ride and stability across all surfaces. It’s genuinely one of the class greats on the motorway.
It’s no ball of fire in the guise that will sell best, the 1.7-litre CRDi. Even that’s inconsequential though, as the motor has a decent shove of torque and is smooth enough to fade into the background at speed. Sit back and enjoy the smoothness: that’s what the i40 does best.
On the inside
The beaky, flowing lines and distinctive LED headlights don’t create an illusion that’s shattered when you open the door. The interior of the i40 is a great showcase of the strides upmarket Hyundai continues to make. It level-pegs the VW Passat for finish and quality, and even the basic Active feels anything but. Move up to Style and Premium and class rivals will hang their head in shame at the kit count comparisons. Being a big saloon, the boot is enormous and interior space is impressive. There’s leg-crossing space front and rear, but choose the beefier 1.7 CRDi 136 motor if you’re planning on carrying heavy loads: Hyundai doesn’t offer a more powerful 2.0-litre alternative.
Hyundai doesn’t need a five-year warranty to tell you this will never go wrong: the in-built solidity and quality of the i40 does that on its own. It still includes it as standard though, as part of a package that shows how eager Hyundai is to please its customers. With eye-opening prices starting from less than £17,500 and sub-120g/km CO2 emissions (combined with an impressive 65.7mpg average economy) also on the table, cue one duly worried range of Mondeos. And rightly so.