Thursday, 06 September 2012 10:03

Leave the anorak at home

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DIESEL CARS were long ago the preserve of anorak wearers obsessed with fuel economy statistics that they neatly recorded in log books.

These blokes – they were always blokes – would focus on mileage and gloss over the reality of the driving experience these early diesel cars offered; fast and refined they were not. Times have changed though, as the Hyundai i40 ably demonstrates.

The 1.7L UII diesel in this slick Korean wagon is a superb unit, punching out useful power of [email protected] and torque of [email protected] And the power delivery is quiet and refined. The driver of a 1979 Mercedes Benz 300D should have been so lucky.

The 6-speed automatic gearbox has enough ratios, and is clever enough to select the right one, to keep the engine on the boil. Progress is effortless, unlike the alternative power plant, a 2L 4-cylinder petrol engine, which just can’t match the pulling power of this diesel. Hard to make a case for the petrol engine in this instance, especially when fuel economy is considered: 7.5l/100km for petrol vs. 5.6l/100km for diesel (put that in your log).

The on-road behaviour is also very good; this is not a sports car despite what the aggressive appearance might suggest, but it is capable and comfortable, eating up the miles on a long haul or regular short commute. The suspension has been tuned for New Zealand conditions.

It also looks great. Hyundai has made huge leaps with the appearance of its vehicles in recent years and no longer produces shapeless, bland cars. The i40 pulls off the sharp sports-wagon look with aplomb. 

Safety features include ESC (electronic stability control), ABS braking, traction control, nine airbags and ESS or emergency stop signal, which activates all rear lights under emergency braking to warn following drivers.

We drove the 1.7 CRDi Elite LTD that comes with a list of kit as long as your arm: leather seats that are powered, heated and ventilated; premium trim and sound; climate control; reversing camera; rain sensing wipers; daytime LED running lights; keyless start; USB connection; Bluetooth… you get the point. 

This high-spec model costs $59,990 but you can get into a diesel i40 for $48,990.

A solid effort all round, the i40, and worth a look as an alternative to the Mondeo, Mazda 6 and Avensis wagons.

Be sure to drive the diesel version though. Anorak not included.

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