Launched in 2011, the Hyundai i40 was ready for a refresh, and Hyundai has duly obliged.
The familiar hexagonal grille, seen on other recent Hyundai models, is the centerpiece of a new-look front end that incorporates a restyled bumper, new headlights and LED fog and running lights. A new pair of taillights also smartens up the rear.
Mechanical changes consist of an increased output for the range-topping version of the 1.7-litre diesel engine. In its most powerful state of tune it now develops 139bhp and 251lb ft of torque, (the 115bhp option remains unchanged) and can be ordered with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic 'box, complete with steering wheel mounted paddles.
Together with a standard engine stop-start system, this combines to achieve a significant drop in CO2 emissions compared to the outgoing six-speed auto.
For those who enjoy their gadgets, the i40 Tourer comes with an upgraded traction control system as well as an improved infotainment unit that introduces a DAB radio to the range for the first time. Top spec Premium models can now be ordered with directional Xenon headlights.
We’ve been driving a mid-spec SE Nav version fitted with the more powerful engine and auto ‘box, to assess how it compares to the equivalent estate versions of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.
What’s the 2015 Hyundai i40 Tourer 1.7 CRDi like to drive?
The performance and efficiency upgrades to the engine mean the i40 Tourer now emits just 114g/km of CO2 from its exhaust, making it cleaner, and therefore cheaper on company car tax, than automatic versions of either the Passat 2.0 TDI 150 Estate or Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 150 Estate.
On paper both the Passat and Mondeo are quicker than the i40’s 0-62mph time of 11.0 seconds, and this is reflected in how it drives on the road. While there is always enough low-end torque for everyday driving, under hard acceleration the i40 feels noticeably more pedestrian than its rivals.
Of more concern is the engine’s delayed response off the line. When pulling out of side junctions, for example, it takes a second or two for the engine to pick-up and get going, which can lead to a few heart-in-mouth moments until you learn to allow for its hesitancy.
It’s relatively hushed, but there is more engine noise than you’d hear in the Mondeo, and this is particularly prevalent past 3,000rpm. The new auto ‘box is extremely smooth on up-shifts and will helpfully hold on to gears for engine braking down hills. However, like many DCT systems, it can be rather eager to change down too many gears under load and is a little jerky in traffic.
If you appreciate a comfortable ride, then you will enjoy the softly sprung i40. The high-speed ride is especially good, but even around town the suspension manages to soak up most road imperfections. In this respect it comes close to rivaling the Mondeo, which is notable as one of the best riding cars in the class.
However, it can’t match the Mondeo or the Passat for handling precision. Through twisty bends the i40 suffers from more body lean and this makes it feel less composed. Meanwhile, the steering is devoid of feel and has too little weighting around the straight-ahead position, while adding too much resistance as you apply more lock.
At speed there is also a fair amount of tyre noise emanating from the rear of the cabin and some noticeable wind noise from around the front screen area.
What’s the 2015 Hyundai i40 Tourer 1.7 CRDi like inside?
You sit quite high in the driving seat, but otherwise the driving position is good. The steering wheel adjusts for rake as well as reach and the supportive driver’s seat has plenty of travel, which should enable most people to find a comfortable set-up.
The dashboard has a fairly busy look with lots of buttons dotted about, but once you are familiar with the layout this isn’t a major concern. The new infotainment system, with its 7.0in touchscreen, is also very simple and intuitive to use and processes commands quickly.
There are plenty of soft-touch plastics used on the cabin's upper surfaces, which along with well-damped switches, lend the interior a high-quality feel. The Passat still leads the way in this class for perceived quality, but the i40 is not far behind and arguably offers a more premium look than you get from behind the wheel of a Mondeo.
If you are a bit of a hoarder, you'll find the i40 is not short of convenient storage options. There's a decently sized glovebox, usable door bins and a deep centre console to cram your accoutrements into.
Rear passenger space is another of the i40 Tourer’s strengths. Even with two tall people sat up front, there’s still enough leg room in the back to accommodate another two six-foot adults. The rear seat backs also recline to add an extra degree of comfort.
Even a third passenger sat in the middle seat won’t feel too squeezed, and thanks to the low transmission tunnel they’ll find plenty of space for their feet. The Tourer’s straight roofline means that those in the back have a generous amount of head room, too.
If you need a big boot the Passat Estate still offers the most cavernous load deck of this trio. It has 650 litres with the rear seats in place, but the 553 litres offered by the i40 Tourer is still very impressive. It’s a thoughtfully designed space too, with additional under-floor storage, charging points, and convenient levers to drop the rear-seat backrests. It's also bestowed with a commendably low loading height to help avoid strained backs.
Standard equipment on this SE Nav model includes sat-nav, 17in alloy wheels, seven airbags (including a driver’s knee bag), a parking camera and Bluetooth connection.
Should I buy one?
The i40 Tourer’s improved emissions and fuel economy will certainly up its appeal to business users, as does the very competitive list price of £23,650. However, this car offers more than just value, and will appeal to those who also appreciate ride comfort, solid build quality and practicality.
That said, while the i40 is certainly commendable in many areas, the two most polished family estates you can currently buy continue to be the Ford Mondeo and the VW Passat, and as such, they remain our top choice.
What Car? says...
Ford Mondeo Estate
Volkswagen Passat Estate
Hyundai i40 Tourer 1.7 CRDi SE Nav
Engine size 1.7-litre diesel
Price from £23,650
Torque 251lb ft
0-62mph 11.0 seconds
Top speed 124mph
Fuel economy 56.5mpg