The Hyundai ix35 has been given a mid-life face-lift for 2013, most notably to its looks, but also to the efficiency of some of its engines and to the way it drives.
Outside, the revised Nissan Qashqai rival has been given redesigned head- and tail-lights, LED daytime running lights, fresh alloy wheel designs and new colours.
Hyundai has raised the quality inside, and theres a new, classier infotainment system.
Under the bonnet, there are revisions to the 2.0-litre diesel engine for slightly better fuel economy and CO2 emissions, and this engine now gets the option of an automatic gearbox. The ix35s front suspension has been tweaked to improve ride and handling, too.
UK prices and standard specifications are yet to be decided, but Hyundai is likely to introduce a new entry-level trim, meaning the ix35s starting price will fall to around 17,000.
Whats the 2013 Hyundai ix35 like to drive?
Hyundai has tweaked the way the ix35 rides and handles following media and customer feedback.
Theres certainly a difference to the steering. Its quicker and all models are expected to come with the variable-weight adjustable Flex Steer system already seen in other Hyundai models such as the i30 small family car.
Left in Normal mode, the steering is light, making it suited to easy progress through town. In faster bends the shortage of weight doesnt inspire much confidence, and although selecting Sport makes the steering heavier, it feels artificial and inconsistent as you turn the wheel.
While grip is good, theres a fair amount of body lean. More importantly, our prototype test car rode well around town on our German test route.
Indeed, only larger, deeper imperfections were uncomfortable, but it remains to be seen how the 2013 ix35 copes on the UKs broken surfaces.
We drove the two-wheel-drive 1.7-litre diesel model, which has enough shove from below 3000rpm to feel comfortable in town and when overtaking on the motorway.
Its main fault remains how gruff it sounds when accelerating. Its also noisy on the motorway, because the engine does 2500rpm at 70mph in sixth gear.
Theres some wind noise from the door mirrors at high speed, too, although road noise isn't too bad at all.
Whats the 2013 Hyundai ix35 like inside?
Theres lots of head- and legroom up front, but while there's plenty of seat adjustment, some drivers might want the steering wheel to adjust lower.
The ix35s sloping roofline means rear-seat space feels tighter than it is in a Nissan Qashqai. Theres still enough headroom for six-footers, but anyone over that wont have much to spare.
Rear kneeroom is a little tight for tall adults, too, although the almost-flat floor and wide-opening rear doors makes it family-friendly.
Where the ix35 excels is boot space; it has nearly 200 litres more than a Qashqai. Its also a practical shape, with a relatively low loading lip and a wide opening for easy access. The rear seatbacks fold pretty much flat, too.
Hyundai has worked to improve the feel of the cabin by adding extra soft-touch parts to the dashboard and doors.
Our prototype car didnt look or feel noticeably better than the outgoing model, but its new seven-inch infotainment screen (which comes with the optional sat-nav) is easy to use on the move.
Equipment levels for the new model havent been confirmed, but every ix35 features air-con, alloy wheels, USB connection, Bluetooth, four electric windows, front and rear heated seats and parking sensors.
The proposed new entry-level trim is likely to lose some of these features, but will be cheaper.
Should I buy one?
Hyundai has succeeded in giving the ix35 a more comfortable ride, then. However, it remains flawed to drive.
As things stand, compare an ix35 1.7 CRDi Style with a Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta and the Nissan is better to drive, and although it has less standard kit, it hardly leaves you wanting for toys. The Qashqai is also cheaper, just as practical, no less comfortable or refined, and emits less CO2.
As such, wed still recommend the Qashqai first. However, with the introduction of a new entry-level model, the Hyundai ix35 is certain to look better value than ever.
What Car? says...
Specification 1.7 CRDi
Engine size 1.7-litre diesel
Price from 17,000 (est)
Torque 192lb ft
Top speed 108mph
Fuel economy 48.7mpg