Hyundai has upgraded its market-leading ix35 to Series II specifications. And the far-reaching changes are much more than skin-deep.
It’s difficult to imagine how anyone could improve on Australia’s runaway best-selling compact SUV. But that’s exactly what Hyundai has done.
And, rest assured, the changes to the market-leading ix35 are significant rather than a once-over-lightly facelift.
In fact, major changes to this ix35 Series II are much more than skin-deep, including the introduction of new direct-injection petrol engines, new steering technology and the adoption of locally developed suspension enhancements.
The entry-level, two-wheel-drive ix35 Series II Active also now steps up to a six-speed manual gearbox, rather than the five-speed that was standard in the original ix35. Hyundai’s impressive six-speed automatic transmission is optional in Active and standard across the rest of the range.
However, the more obvious changes with ix35 Series II are those you can see. Literally from the top, they include the addition of aerodynamic, metal-effect roof rails.
The headlights have been changed, too. They’re now projector-beam units, which give a stronger, better-focused beam than standard parabolic reflector-style headlights. Plus, let’s face it, they look good and add a whole new dimension to the ix35’s already-handsome ‘face’. As do the LED positioning lights – on
the lower portion of the headlights on Active models and on the upper portion on Elite and Highlander variants.
And almost last in terms of exterior changes – but a long way from least are the two dynamic new-design alloys wheels: 10-spoke 17-inch items on Elite variants, and five double-spoke 18-inch alloys on the top-spec Highlander.
Of course, there is a new colour palette for the ix35 Series II, too.
Available mica-enhanced colours are: Phantom Black, Remington Red, Cobalt Coast and dynamic Atomic Orange.
Also available is the metallic Sleek Silver, Grey Titanium and solid Pure White.
Step inside and you can’t fail to notice the new-design woven seat upholstery on Active ix35s and, on Elite and Highlander variants, there’s a new soft-touch front and rear upper door material that gives a more luxurious look and feel to their interiors.
And in another nod to a more luxurious interior look and feel, the front cupholders have been reshaped and now feature mood lighting.
Again, last but hardly least in terms of interior updates in ix35 Series II is the newly redesigned 60/40-split rear seat now with two-stage reclining function, to give rear passengers just that little bit more control over their level of comfort.
But, as we said earlier, the big changes are under the bonnet and underneath the ix35 Series II itself.
The ix35 Series II is powered by an all-new petrol engine line-up which introduces the direct-injection Nu 2.0 GDi and Theta II 2.4 GDi engines to the model, both of which deliver better performance and driveability.
The 2.0 GDi four-cylinder engine that powers the entry level ix35 Active is also available in the middle-specification Elite and delivers the same 122kW of power as its same-sized multipoint-injected predecessor, but thanks to its direct-injection now delivers 205Nm of torque – an increase of 8Nm.
The direct-injected 2.4-litre Theta GDi engine has brought improved performance to the ix35 Series II Elite and Highlander variants in which it is available. Power is increased to 136kW (up 6kW) while torque becomes 240Nm (a sizeable jump of 13Nm). All of which translates to stronger performance – especially at mid-range, overtaking speeds.
The range-topping 2.0-litre CRDi direct-injection diesel engine available in Elite and Highlander variants retains its impressive maximum135kW and 392Nm but now offers improved 7.2L/100km fuel economy.
And the mechanical changes don’t stop there. As part of an update to the latest Hyundai technology, the ix35 Series II’s power steering system now uses 32-bit computer processing, rather than the 16-bit system found in its predecessor.
This faster processor delivers more rapid response to the driver’s steering input while also giving him (or her) more feedback from the road surface. As part of the update, the steering ratio has been reduced from 2.99 to 2.83 turns lock-to-lock.
However, probably the most significant changes from ix35 to ix35 Series II are the least obvious. In line with Hyundai Australia’s approach to fine-tuning suspension to suit local conditions, major suspension components including coil springs and stabiliser bars front and rear have been optimised during extensive local testing.
“The challenge in tuning suspension systems to suit our conditions is to find the optimum compromise between ride comfort and control,” says Hyundai Australia’s product planning manager and
head test driver, Andrew Tuitahi. “By its nature, an SUV has to be competent all-round. It has to be comfortable and controllable on bitumen, but some buyers also expect at least some level of off-road competence.”
From the evidence of its runaway sales success, the ix35 attracts people from all walks of life. “It’s driven in urban environments – running errands, going to the supermarket, doing the school run – but it also is used to tow boats, transport families and their luggage on weekend trips, carry sales samples for travelling salesmen ... it’s used for a wide range of applications.”
Hence Hyundai’s search for an ideal middle ground that ensures all-round competence on all road surfaces. “Throughout the process of fine-tuning the ix35 Series II for Australia,
we asked ourselves as a team a number of questions,” Andrew Tuitahi said. “Would we feel confident putting our families, friends and most precious possessions in this car to drive them across Australia? Will it be composed in all conditions on all surfaces? And, will it be able to cope with an unexpected pothole, damaged road surface or severe corrugations that might otherwise leave it stranded?
“When you can answer ‘yes’ to all those questions – as we were able to do when we signed off on the ix35 Series II – you know you’ve got it right.”
Or, in the case of the hot-selling ix35 Series II ... even more right.
For more information, visit the ix35 Series II.