Hyundai i40 Tourer driven
* Hyundai's new family estate driven * Price £18,395-£25,895 * On sale September...
What is it?
Supermarket own-brands make up for a limited image with low pricing, and Hyundai has traditionally done the same.
However, that's set to change: the i40 is the spearhead for a new generation of Hyundais that have been designed to appeal to the heart, not just the wallet.
The i40 certainly has a much more upmarket look and feel than the unloved Sonata it replaces. Yet, although it's no budget special, it'll still cost you less than an equivalent Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat.
A saloon version goes on sale in November and will be priced from around £17,000. Meanwhile, the Tourer (estate) that we're concentrating on here arrives a couple of months earlier and starts at £18,395.
Four engines will be available at launch: 113bhp 1.6- and 175bhp 2.0-litre petrols, and 111bhp and 134bhp 1.7-litre diesels. The diesels look particularly appealing on paper, emitting less than 120g/km of CO2 when combined with engine stop-start. This is standard on the 111bhp car and an option on the 134bhp.
What's it like to drive?
Our car had the higher-powered diesel engine. Unfortunately, this feels flat below 1600rpm, so you're frequently changing gear to keep it in its sweet spot.
On the up side, the engine stays smooth and refined unless you rev it hard, and the i40 shuts out wind- and road noise well.
The i40 also feels stable at motorway speeds and remains composed on winding roads, but the steering lets the side down a bit, feeling artificially weighted in turns and rather numb around the straight ahead.
We drove the car on super-smooth Norwegian roads, so it remains to be seen how well it'll ride in the UK. However, the signs aren't promising because it felt fidgety on the few patched-up surfaces we encountered.
What's it like inside?
Let's start with the area that matters most in an estate car the boot. The i40's has a 553-litre capacity, making it one of the biggest in the class.
However, it's quite narrow between the wheelarches and the rear seats don't fold completely flat.
Put the seats back up and there's room for four adults in the cabin (or five at a push).
Interior quality has taken a big step forward from previous Hyundais: there are lots of soft-touch plastics and everything has a solid, built-to-last feel.
The switchgear is also pretty appealing, and it's simple enough to use.
Unfortunately, the driving position is less impressive because you sit too high, and the front head restraints jut a long way forward, leaving your neck at an awkward angle.
Should I buy one?
The new i40 might be Hyundai's most stylish and desirable model yet, but value for money is still key to its appeal.
Not only is the i40 well priced and equipped, but like every Hyundai it comes with a five-year warranty, five years' roadside assistance and five years of free vehicle health checks.
Given the choice, we'd still rather have a Ford Mondeo or Volkswagen Passat, but you wouldn't feel hard done by if you were handed an i40 as a company car.
What Car? says