The Hyundai ix35 surviving the bike test.
The Hyundai ix35 surviving the bike test. Iain Curry

Hyundai ix35 CRDi beginning to shine in road test

IT'S been a busy first month for our long-term test Hyundai ix35 CRDi, with nearly 2000km already showing on its clock.

The honeymoon period where I am smitten with its wonderful newness and the range of gadgets expected from a 2013 vehicle is nearing an end, and now I can't help but compare it to my normal daily drive.

With a young child in tow and the need to regularly transport sports equipment and baby strollers, I've been a confirmed wagon man for the past two years: hence there's a 2007 Volvo V50 2.4i in my garage, and very happy I am with it too.

The Hyundai ix35 is in the small SUV class - arguably a segment that fights squarely against the wagon class - so it's been interesting to experience first hand their strengths and weaknesses.

The Volvo wagon has a much lower centre of gravity of course, so its handling and balance are very good, if hardly sporting.

The taller Hyundai SUV is far less satisfying through the turns, feeling less balanced at the same speed as the Volvo, and with more noticeable body roll.

But the ix35 is trying even less hard than the Volvo to be a sports car, and while you can get SUVs that handle like they're on rails (look to Audi, BMW and Porsche here), the Hyundai eschews this to preserve comfort.

And it is a very cosseting ride, not least on my work commute that is practically all motorway, where the ix35 is a relaxing joy to pilot.

Wagons ain't what they used to be size-wise (I'm speaking as a former Falcon XE wagon owner), and the Volvo V50 doesn't swallow a great deal through its tailgate, especially when a child seat prevents the rear seats going down.

The ix35 boasts decent height for luggage, as well as depth, so I've noticed the baby stroller, beach gear, change bag, picnic kit and sports gear fit into the SUV with far less hassle. Big win here for the typical family.

Another bonus of the ix35's cargo volume has been for push bike transportation.

When taking my bike to sports events in the Volvo I tend to remove both front and rear wheels, and still manage to get chain oil over some part of the boot's white carpet. Incidentally, light carpet in a wagon's cargo area has always perplexed me - it's just asking to get stained.

This week I managed to fit two road bikes in the ix35's rear (once the seats were laid flat) with only their front wheels removed. Bike riders will understand how beneficial this is, and this warranted a big tick in the Hyundai's practicality box.

The ix35's diesel motor is running itself in nicely, and isn't supping too much of the fuel considering the vehicle's size and weighty AWD system.

Its first tank of diesel gave me 700km at an average of 7.2-litres/100km. Since refilling, this has gone down to 7.0-litres/100km as I've discovered the car's Eco button, and I'm feeling all green and tree-hugging as I cruise the highways at minimal revs.

It's not all been peaches and cream however. As with every new car they take some getting used to, and I'm hoping to eradicate a few aspects causing me to grumble.

The touch-screen for the entertainment system isn't letting me scroll through my paired telephone's library or music list, but I accept this could be the phone's fault, or even more likely, my own stupidity.

When I press the key fob to lock the car it emits an annoying honk of the horn; again, hopefully something I car rectify when I'm inspired to flick through the owner's manual.

Small stuff for now, and if such things are the height of my complaints about the car I think the ix35 and I will get on very well indeed.

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