A new all-wheel drive petrol model headlines a mildly updated Hyundai ix35 line-up.
The new ix35 Elite comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, with sequential manual mode, to deliver a combined fuel economy of 8.5L/100km.
The newest member to the Hyundai ix35 range also gains climate control, auto-dimming electro-chromatic mirror, reversing camera and satellite navigation.
Operated by a 6.5-inch touch screen, the premium ix35 Highlander also benefits from the inclusion of the sat-nav system.
The updated entry-level Hyundai ix35 Active receives a new 5-inch touch-screen audio system featuring iPod and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, and a USB input.
Cosmetic differences are limited to silver-painted roof rails for the ix35 Elite and Highlander, daytime LED running lights, new wheel designs and a mildly revised interior that includes a new soft-touch plastic panel on the passenger side dashboard.
Hyundai has also added dark silver-painted trim around the air vents and there’s also reshaped front cup holders and a two-position reclining backrest for the second row bench seat.
These changes aside, it’s largely the same ix35 interior and that means the same shortcomings carry over too - like poor outward visibility for kids in the back seat, no rear air-outlets, no shopping bag hooks in the boot.
The most substantial improvements are under the skin.
If there’s one thing that Hyundai does well, it’s respond to the market. After some buyer reluctance to accept the less that friendly suspension for Australian road conditions, they produced a re-tuned version that is greatly improved.
Hyundai has gone through the ix35’s suspension with a fine-toothed comb, changing damper settings, swapping roll-bars and fiddling with spring rates to dial out the super-stiff ride of the previous model.
It’s all part of Hyundai’s growing localisation programme, and in the Hyundai ix35’s case it has worked rather well.
The rear sub frame now has shock-absorbing rubber bushings between it and the body to better insulate the cabin from suspension harshness, and virtually every component of the suspension has come in for changes.
The spring rates, damper tune and sway bars are entirely different, and though the springs and sways are taken from Hyundai’s global parts bin, the damper-valving is entirely unique to the Australian market.
The end result is a ride that’s much better suited to the poor road quality encountered both outside and within Australian cities. Body control is better too, and even though the ride is substantially softer it’s not overly ‘floaty’.
The ix35’s engines have also come in for some work.
The small SUV now boasts the 136kW/240Nm 2.4 litre direct-injected Theta II engine, which offers an additional 6kW and 13Nm torque over the engine it replaces.
The 2.4 is only available with a six-speed auto, but as with the 2.0’s auto this is a good gearbox that rarely puts a foot wrong. So much so that we never really found much need to use the wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
While grip in the FWD ix35 was generally good on gravel, the AWD-equipped models behaved better under power, with better directional stability and traction.
A slight negative though is the steering. The weighting is good (heavy, but not too heavy) and the faster rack-ratio means there’s less turns from lock-to-lock, but the steering feel is still not great, particularly on-centre.
Summing it up - The improvements to ride and handling have provided the choice of a car that will handle the majority of Australian road conditions with ease, and the diesel engine provides all the power the average buyer will expect from a small SUV.
The interior of the Hyundai ix35 still needs more refinement and fewer hard plastics, but it’s practical, big enough for a small family and quite well equipped.
Even with the previous model’s flawed suspension tune, the ix35 manages to absolutely dominate the small SUV segment.
NUTS and BOLTS
- Engine: 2.0 litre petrol producing 122kW and 205Nm, 2.4 litre petrol delivering 136kW and 240Nm or 2.0 litre turbo-diesel with 135kW and 392Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: Five years
- Origin: South Korea
- Price: from $26,990