Hyundai i40 review
The Hyundai i40 is a roomy family car with plenty of standard equipment, but alternatives are more practical and come with a much greater range of petrol and diesel engines
What's not so good
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The Hyundai i40 is a roomy family car that’s fairly comfy and easy to drive, but doesn’t feel quite as posh as some more upmarket alternatives. It’s available as both the saloon we’re reviewing here and the more spacious estate, the i40 Tourer, which we review separately.
Sure, you get plenty of soft materials inside, but its cabin looks much more dated than a Skoda Superb or Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. You do get a touchscreen infotainment system as standard and satellite navigation in all but entry-level cars but it’s a shame the Hyundai’s rather old-fashioned graphics can’t hold a candle to the Skoda’s slick system.
So the i40 doesn’t feel all that modern inside, but at least there’s plenty of adjustment in the front seats and more than enough headroom for you to get comfy. Space in the back is reasonably generous too, although if you regularly carry four very tall friends you’ll be better off with the limousine-like Superb.
It’s a similar story when it comes to boot space. There’s enough room in the Hyundai for a few large suitcases but – you guessed it – the Superb, Mondeo and Insignia Grand Sport can all carry more. If you flip the Hyundai’s rear seats down there’s enough space to carry a bike with its wheels attached but its narrow opening makes lifting it in and out a bit of a pain.
The i40’s pretty dull to drive, but its spacious back seats make it the ideal car for ferrying a few friends around – handy if you fancy moonlighting as a taxi driver…
If you do find yourself filling the boot and carrying passengers on a regular basis, it’s best to go for the Hyundai’s more powerful 141hp diesel engine. This 1.7-litre model is powerful enough to cruise along happily at motorway speeds and very nearly as frugal as the slightly cheaper 115hp 1.7-litre version.
This slightly less athletic option is still worth a look if you do lots of driving in town, however – as is the optional automatic gearbox. It isn’t particularly smooth at very low speeds but it’ll help make heavy stop-start traffic a bit less tiring.
If long motorway journeys are more your thing, you might be disappointed to hear cruise control is only standard on SE Nav models. That said, even without it the i40’s fairly relaxing to drive but it’s a bit noisier than the likes of the Skoda Superb at motorway speeds.
Head into town and the i40 soaks up most bumps nicely, but the soft suspension doesn’t do a great deal to stop its body leaning in tight corners. It’s also missing out on some key safety tech you get as standard on most modern rivals.
Still, if you can live without some headline-grabbing technology and want a relatively affordable family car with a roomy cabin, the i40’s worth a second look.
The i40’s cabin is reasonably roomy and you get loads of seat adjustment as standard but alternatives have bigger boots that are easier to load
Because the i40’s boot lid only extends to the rear windscreen rather than to the roof itself it’s a real pain to lift in anything bigger than a large suitcase
There’s plenty of space in the i40’s front seats for you to stretch out – even if you’re very tall. Entry-level cars come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and electric lumbar support to help stave off lower back pain on long journeys.
Don’t fancy manually raising and lowering your seat? SE Nav versions come with electric seat-height adjustment alongside manual seat-height adjustment for your front-seat passenger. SE Nav Business cars add electric adjustment for the passenger, too.
Space in the back is impressive, but not quite as roomy as the Skoda Superb. There’s enough leg room for six-foot-tall passengers to stretch out and space under the seats in front for them to tuck their feet, but your very tall friends might struggle slightly for headroom.
There’s enough shoulder room to carry three adults in the back but the central seat is raised above the outer two and it isn’t quite as well padded. There’s also a tall lump in the rear floor that cuts into space for your middle passenger’s feet.
Thankfully, there’s more than enough room for three kids to get comfy and the reasonably wide rear door openings mean it isn’t too difficult to lift in a bulky child seat. Unfortunately, the Isofix anchor points for securing it are hidden behind the rear seat padding making it more difficult to lock in place than in the Skoda.
The i40’s roomy glovebox and spacious front door bins can all hold a 1.5-litre water bottle each and there’s some extra storage space hidden under the front armrest. The two cupholders between the front seats are easily big enough to hold a giant cup of coffee each and there’s a handy slot for your phone under the dashboard beside a 12V socket and USB port.
The rear door bins are almost as generous as those in the front and you also get a pair of cupholders built into the folding rear armrest.
Unlike some similar-size family cars, the i40’s rear windscreen doesn’t lift up when you open the boot lid. As a result, it’s slightly more difficult to lift in large, bulky items – a problem not helped by the Hyundai’s tall boot lip and protruding wheel wells.
When it comes to outright space, the Hyundai’s 525-litre capacity lags some way behind the 541-litre Ford Mondeo and is easily outstripped by the cavernous 625-litre Skoda Superb. There’s still enough space to carry a few large suitcases and some smaller soft bags and just enough underfloor storage to keep a few valuables hidden safely out of sight.
You can fold the Hyundai’s rear seats down in a two-way (60:40) split as standard to help with carrying long items but it’s still not as roomy as the Superb, Mondeo or Insignia Grand Sport.
At least the seats fold flat without a step in the boot floor so you can push heavy boxes right up behind the front seats without too much effort. There’s just about enough space to carry a bike without removing its wheels but the i40’s relatively slim boot opening means it isn’t particularly easy to load.
The i40 is easy to drive and reasonably comfortable, but alternatives come with a wider range of engines and more advanced safety tech
The i40’s 1.7-litre engine does a respectable job around town and on the motorway but it isn’t quite as perky or as frugal as similar engines in many alternatives
All i40s come with a 1.7-litre diesel engine but you can get it with either 115hp or 141hp. The basic 115hp model is perfectly happy pottering around town while the 141hp version is better suited to longer motorway drives. Hyundai claims these engines will return 65.7mpg and 67.3mpg respectively but in the real world you can expect them to return approximately 50mpg.
As you might expect, the more powerful model is noticeably faster. Accelerating from 0-62mph takes 10.3 seconds – that’s hardly very exciting stuff but it’s more than two seconds quicker than the 115hp version. As a result, the 141hp model feels much more comfortable overtaking slow-moving traffic. It’s still not quite as responsive as some similarly powerful petrol-powered alternatives, however.
All i40s come with a six-speed manual gearbox which can be a little tricky to use at slow speeds. The optional automatic is better but can be a little jerky when you’re trying to park and will set you back an extra £1,900. It’s still worth considering if you do lots of long journeys in heavy traffic – it’ll help give your left leg a well-earned rest.
The pillars between the i40’s doors and its windscreen are nice and thin so there aren’t any particularly big blind spots when you’re at junctions. Sadly, it’s more difficult to see behind you thanks to the small rear windscreen which can make parking a bit tricky. At least you get front and rear parking sensors on Premium and SE Nav Business models to help you avoid low-speed scrapes in supermarket car parks.
The Hyundai does a decent job of ironing out bumps and potholes around town but models with larger alloy wheels fidget around slightly more on poorly maintained roads. All i40s lean more in tight corners than the likes of the Skoda Superb and Insignia Grand Sport too, and their slightly vague steering doesn’t give you a very good idea of what the front wheels are up to.
You’ll hear slightly more wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds in the i40 than in some more relaxing alternatives from Skoda and Ford, too. The Hyundai’s diesel engine isn’t quite as smooth as the engines you get in these cars, and it’s noisier around town, too.
Saying that, it’s still pretty relaxing to drive but you’ll have to pay extra for an SE Nav model if you want cruise control and lane-keeping assist is reserved for top-spec Premium cars.
Whichever model you go for, you can’t get the i40 with advanced automatic emergency braking like in most alternatives. It still earned a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2011 but many more modern cars will provide more protection in a crash.
The Hyundai i40’s interior won’t get your pulse racing but at least there are plenty of soft plastics dotted around and most models get satellite navigation as standard