Overall rating: 4/5
From any angle the crossover segment is now a very busy place in which Hyundai, deservedly, has earned a small but firm foothold in it. Naturally then, when it comes to giving the ix35 a freshening up, the South Korean manufacturer has decided to play it safe.
In the Metal:
The ix35 has received a minimal number of styling tweaks that only eagle-eyed Hyundai owners might spot. Given that the ix35 is the South Korean brand's second best-selling car in Europe it is understandable that the company doesn't want to tinker with it too much. The most noticeable changes are to the front and rear lights, which now have optional bi-Xenon headlamps and uprated LED positioning lamps respectively.
Inside the cabin is where you are likely to notice more improvements. Hyundai says it has worked hard to improve the quality of the materials used with more soft-touch plastics. Although this was not immediately apparent, the vehicles we tested at the launch were pre-production models. Either way, the cabin has a solid, well-finished feel to it. Dashboard air vents now have chrome surrounds while the front cup holders are now illuminated.
Other improvements include a new audio system that comes with a 4.3-inch LCD display. This can also be upgraded to a larger seven-inch LCD centre console display to accommodate the new navigation system. In the centre of the instrument cluster a new high-resolution screen displays a wide range of information such as fuel range, as well as next-turn guides if the car is fitted with satellite navigation.
Engineers at Hyundai's Motor Europe Technical Centre have made some more significant changes under the skin of the latest ix35. Refinements to the power steering system for example result in faster responses to driver input while driver's can also choose from three different driving modes - normal, comfort and sport. Each mode gives a different power steering weighting, although there is the sense that most drivers, particularly those that do not share the vehicle with anyone else, will simply select their preferred mode once and never use it again. That said, for families that have more than one person driving the car, the different options may be a welcome choice for some.
Performance from the 1.7-litre diesel engine is there but it can be slightly unrefined when pressed hard. The 115hp motor is well suited to the six-speed manual gearbox that copes well with both town and motorway driving. Some of the poorer roads around the Czech Republic were quite similar to those in Ireland, which demonstrated that the suspension does seem to have been improved.
What you get for your Money:
The updated ix35 is by no means a radically improved vehicle, but that said it did have a good base to start from. The 1.7-litre engine doesn't quite match the driving performance of the bigger 2.0-litre, but you do benefit from being in a more affordable road tax band.
For family life even the entry-level Comfort trim line is reasonably well equipped with features such as hill-start assist, roof rails, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth all coming as standard. Rear passenger room is good for two adults and will easily accommodate three children.
Prices and an on-sale date for the facelifted model have yet to be announced.
Many of the new equipment, such as bi-Xenon headlights, will only feature as options on some of the lower trim levels. Currently if you wish to choose from an automatic gearbox you must go with the 2.0-litre engine, which also comes in four-wheel drive form, but still has higher emissions meaning a higher road tax cost.
There is no doubting that the Hyundai ix35 is a very capable family car and is likely to be high up on many people's shopping list. The ease of entry and exit combined with a practically sized boot space means that it is ideal for a multitude of tasks. And given to mild changes made to this updated model, it seems to have already been a winning formula.