Hyundai i40 Saloon (2015 - ) review
Subtle tweaks keep Hyundai’s family car in the running against strong competition from the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen PassatThe Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.9 Improvements inside and out bring the i40 closer to the Ford Mondeo, but it’s still not quite up there with the class best
- Economical engines
- Slick styling inside and out
- Plenty of standard kit
- Not as good to drive as rivals
- So-so driving position
- Base engine is a bit weak
At a glance
The i40 saloon is looking slightly less curvaceous and a bit sharper these days. Don’t worry, though - it’s still a handsome thing, and is able to stand comparison with its family car rivals. The angular detailing of the large hexagonal grille and headlamps combine with the creases in the bonnet and down the sides of the body to give a really sleek look. All versions get LED daytime running lights and tail lights, plus alloy wheels and chrome-effect details around the grille, windows and on the bootlid, which further enhances the styling.
The interior has always compared well with the quality of that on offer in the Vauxhall Insignia and the Ford Mondeo. The high-quality materials in areas that you come into contact with regularly - the steering wheel and gearknob - boosts the feeling of quality, while everything feels well assembled. The touchscreen infotainment system is reasonably intuitive to use, with few buttons cluttering up the centre console. However, although all versions get manual or electric seat height adjustment, plus lumbar support, the driving position could be better: tall drivers won’t like the fact that the seat won’t go low enough and the steering wheel doesn’t go high enough. Rear visibility isn’t great, either, because of thick rear pillars.
The i40 has a very roomy cabin, with enough head- and kneeroom in the back to comfortably accommodate a couple of tall adults. The rear seat is wide enough to take a third adult, but foot space is a bit cramped because the storage area between the front seats encroaches on rear kneeroom. The boot is similarly expansive, with 525 litres of capacity with the rear seats in place. With them folded 60:40 you can extend the cargo area into the cabin for bigger loads, although they don’t go flat. The saloon boot opening limits your ability to load bulky objects, and the narrow opening between the boot and the passenger compartment will prevent you from carrying some items.
Ride and handling
The suspension is set up to favour a comfortable ride rather than sharp handling - and it's very effective. Only the deepest potholes disturb the i40’s composure; everything else is dealt with in a quiet, fuss-free manner. Sure, the ride quality in town is a little unsettled, but things smooth out at speed; and, although there’s some road noise on the motorway, it’s not excessive. Through bends, te Hyundai doesn’t feel as nimble as, say, a Ford Mondeo, but it’s by no means bad and body roll is fairly well contained. The steering is well weighted, but it feels inert through bends.
You’ll need to like diesel power if you’re buying the i40 because petrol engines aren’t available. The 1.7-litre unit is available in two outputs - 114- and 139bhp - and both come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the more powerful engine is also available with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Neither engine gives particularly brisk performance, but the more powerful version is a good couple of seconds quicker to 62mph and there isn’t much of a penalty to pay in economy or emissions. They are, however, fairly noisy (even at middling revs), so it’s just as well the 139bhp engine pulls well from low revs.
With CO2 emissions as low as 110g/km, official average economy as high as 67.3mpg and reasonable insurance groupings, the i40 isn’t going to break the bank whether you’re a company car driver or private motorist. The more powerful diesel emits 114g/km (129g with the auto ’box) and averages 65.7mpg (56.5mpg with the auto), so isn’t much worse; and, we’d choose this engine with the manual gearbox, especially if you plan on carrying a full load of passengers regularly. Resale values are close to those of a Ford Mondeo, but weaker than a Volkswagen Passat’s.
The i40 hasn’t featured in the latest JD Power survey and isn’t listed by Warranty Direct, but the Hyundai brand sits near the top of the standings for both. The company is gaining an excellent reputation for both owner satisfaction and reliability, and if anything does go wrong, the car comes with a five-year/unlimited-mileage triple-care warranty, which includes roadside assistance and car health checks.
As standard, all i40s get seven airbags, electronic brakeforce distribution, an electronic stability programme, hill start assist and a tyre pressuring monitoring system, while a lane departure warning system with lane keep assist comes with Premium trim. The i40 performed well in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, garnering a maximum five-star rating. It got 92% for adult occupant safety and 86% for the child occupant test.
Standard kit on entry-level S trim includes 16-inch alloys, air-con, Bluetooth, heated door mirrors, all-round electric windows, remote central locking, a spare wheel, a USB socket and tinted glass. SE Nav is our favourite trim, and it adds a touchscreen with a parking camera and front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto wipers, a DAB radio, a heated steering wheel and front seats, and LED front foglights. SE Nav Business brings ventilated front leather seats and keyless entry, while Premium adds 18-inch alloys, another two airbags, heated rear seats, an opening panoramic sunroof and an electric rear window blind.
You appreciate that the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat do a very good job, but there’s one of those on every street corner and you’re after something different. The i40 is good in most areas and excellent in some and, backed up by a five-year warranty and with plenty of standard kit, it’s got plenty of appeal.