Hyundai ix35 Facelift 2013 Road Test

The change in Hyundai over the last ten years has been remarkable. The Korean firm now has one of the newest car line-ups - it's oldest design is the i10 from 2008 and even that is due to be replaced with an all-new model this December. With each new car the manufacturer launches, we see improvements in quality, handling and design. The brand has come a very long way in a short amount of time.

The popular ix35 has been a key model and with ever more small SUVs being launched, it's no surprise to see it getting a facelift after three years. There are no sweeping changes - the ix35 has been a big success so Hyundai is sticking with a winning formula and merely enhancing it.

You'll be hard pressed to spot the changes on the outside. There are redesigned headlights with an LED daytime running strip across the bottom while at the rear there are new light clusters, again with LEDs used to give it a more modern appearance. There are also new design alloys. It's the same story inside although there are subtle changes like a larger seven-inch screen in the centre console and a better display between the instrument dials.

Hyundai says it has also improved perceived quality with more soft touch materials, however the cars we drove were pre-production and not quite the finished article. We'll have to wait and see whether that's the case. So while it's more of the same for the ix35, that's no bad thing. It's still a good looking car with neat, flowing lines while the interior has a quality and well finished feel to it. There's plenty of room inside with good legroom for rear passengers, plus a large 591-litre boot. As a family car it ticks all the right boxes.

The main improvements have come under the skin. Hyundai has worked on the ride and handling fitting softer front suspension mounts for better ride quality and lower noise while giving it a faster steering ratio. It means it's incredibly comfortable and refined on the move, even dealing well with poor quality roads. There's less road noise too which makes the ix35 a great motorway car, helped further by the comfortable, albeit not especially supportive seats.

Hyundai Ix 35 (2)

The handling is improved too helped by a new Flex Steer system which has three modes normal, comfort and sport which changes the level of electric assistance. It's still doesn't offer much feel, but it's tidy in corners nonetheless. Body roll is well controlled, so that on bendy roads, those in the back aren't going to feel sick. There's good front end grip too so it gives you plenty of confidence in bends, even in the wet. It's not the most engaging car to drive, but overall it feels very assured and refined.

The engine line-up has also been improved with better economy. The line-up includes the frugal 1.7 CRDi which is a fairly noisy unit, especially if you work it hard, but if you're more gentle it hums along nicely and will return around 50mpg according to the official figures. It also has a positive shifting six-speed manual as standard.

The 2.0 CRDi has also been tweaked and the lower powered 136PS version now comes with an automatic gearbox that was previously only on the higher power 184PS model. This engine is far quieter than the 1.7 CRDi and suits the ix35 perfectly, especially if you want that extra bit of power for towing. The six-speed automatic offers speedy and sharp changes plus it kicks down quickly when needed. There's no hunting round for the right gear. If you value a relaxed driving experience, we'd certainly recommend it.

The ix35 remains one of the best SUVs around the one of the best value for money too. It's well equipped, well built and very refined. It's easy to see why the ix35 has proved so popular and these improvements have made it an even better buy.  And don't forget Hyundai's five-year unlimited mileage warranty - proof of the manufacturer's faith in the quality of its cars.

Hyundai Ix 35 (3)

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