If you're looking for an estate car, then you're spoilt for choice. The Hyundai i40 Tourer joins a growing army of options to consider.
Not only are there the large estate models, like the Passat or the A6, but in many cases shorter-wheelbase options, such as the Golf Estate, are available too. Models from VW, Skoda, Audi or Volvo may also to spring to mind. Choices, choices.
The Tourer name, in the case of Hyundai, simply indicates an estate-style rear-end, rather than the closed-boot of the i40 Saloon. Is the Tourer the car with the big rear to suit you?
Hyundai, it's fair to say, hasn't given us the most memorable of cars in terms of design. Recently, however, things have been shifting. The "Fluidic Sculpture" design is inspired, says Hyundai, by sand dunes. The sharp crease that runs along the side of the car, and the angular nature of the lights perhaps reflects this, but stop and stare at the i40 Tourer for some time and the lines seem to flow from the nose to the tail very fluidly.
It's a good-looking car, we have to say. It is distinct, avoiding the sort of boxy appearance that typifies something like the Passat, with a roof line that drops slightly towards the rear, like the Volvo V60. The result is something that's more sporty than utilitarian, excepting, of course, that you end up with a smaller rear window.
But from the driving seat of the i40, we perhaps didn't appreciate its looks until we saw another on the road. There aren't a huge number of i40 Tourers around, but when we saw one thundering down a steep Cornish B-road toward us, we remarked at how nice it looked, before slamming on the brakes and diving for the mediocre passing space offered by the verge.
That's part of what Hyundai is faced with: unfamiliarity. We all know Volvo, we're surrounded by VW and Audi all too often, but a Hyundai estate isn't on the radar as much, when perhaps it should be.
The interior of a car is often what marks one from another, especially when it comes to finish and that essence of a premium car. The i40 model we had on review was the Premium SE, which is Hyundai's top trim level. Unlike many of its rivals, there isn't a huge run of extras for you to specify. Instead, you pick the trim level and, in the case of the Premium SE, you get everything - from the chrome detailing, to the leather heated steering wheel thrown in.
The result is a car that's a great alternative to the models out there. Priced at £28,210 - slightly bumped by the £490 pearl paint option - there's a lot of car here for the money. It's also worth remembering the five-year triple care unlimited mileage warranty that Hyundai includes as standard.
Step down a few levels and you don't miss out on too much: on the Style trim at £22,115 you still get the rear parking camera and satnav, the same seven-speaker audio system, dual-zone climate control, auto wipers, the privacy glass and plenty more - including Xenon headlights, power-folding door mirrors and lane departure warning system - which is an impressive range of features for the price.
Whichever trim level you pick it doesn't mean you'll lack access to the latest technology. Quite the opposite - it means that you pay your cash and get it all. There's no head scratching over whether you opt for the parking sensors or the reverse camera, because you get both included. Even when you step down to the other trim levels, you still get an awful lot for your money as standard, which is what Hyundai is really known for.
The interior design of the i40 throws up a few oddities though, like the way the central console fans and air vents sit. The use of glossy black plastics means that it's going to be difficult to keep it looking as shiny and new as you might like. A quick straw poll of passengers in our car drew mixed feelings, but we can't say it would totally turn us off.
There's no lack of quality, however - it all looks and feels sturdy enough. Panels are nice and tight and there's a good action to buttons and switches. Where you might expect metal or wood inlays from the likes of Mercedes or BMW, you're looking at textured plastic, but that really doesn't matter. Once you're humming along the motorway, you'll find things are quiet and comfortable and that's the most important point.
The leather seats are comfortable and remained so even after long journeys. But more impressively is that they're electric powered, including the lumbar support, as well as offering heating and cooling. There are three levels each for heating and cooling on the front seats, as well as dual-zone climate control, so you're well catered for in all regards. The back seats are heated too, although we couldn't find a way to disable that: not ideal when you have children poking each other in the back.
There's also plenty of space. The leg room for the rear seats is surprisingly generous: carrying four or five adults isn't going to be a problem. There's ample headroom within the spacious cabin too. The boot offers a capacious 553 litres, extended to 1,719 if you fold the rear seats forward. There's a retractable cover as well as a partition net, so it's easy to keep your payload neat and tidy.
The rear windows are darkened, which adds that premium feeling of privacy for passengers, as well as keeping prying eyes away from the content of your boot. That can make the rear a little dark, but that's easily dealt with by the expansive panoramic sunroof. You can tilt or slide open the front section, but we found ourselves rolling back the covers just for more interior light.
Overall, the i40 Tourer is a lovely car to sit in. Comfortable, sophisticated, and aside from some minor design foibles, there's little to complain about.
Push to start
With Hyundai hailing from South Korea, it's no surprise that its cars are packed with technology. As gadget fans we love that you get things like Bluetooth as standard, with good-quality results on calls, paired with a great seven-speaker sound system. It might lack a premium audio brand name, but that doesn't stop it being a strong performer when you crank the volume up.
But there's one thing you won't have to crank, and that's the ignition key. The Hyundai i40 Tourer Premium SE offers push to start, as well as keyless entry, so getting in and started is about as simple as it gets. Then there's the powered boot lid, offering both opening and closing at the push of a button.
There's also a central touch display. This incorporates the satnav system which, like many, is effective if not exemplary. We pitched it against our current favourite system from TomTom and found it offered us a route 30 minutes longer than the Dutch rival. It does incorporate traffic and offers a choice of routes. Re-routing, however, can be a little slow to switch to a better route.
READ: TomTom Go 500 review
In many cases it works well: the touchscreen is responsive and it doesn't suffer from glare in bright conditions either. We like the fact that you get full UK post code navigation, something that not all paid-for options in rival models offer, but there didn't seem to be any transfer of directions to the driver's information display, meaning a glance into the centre of the car to check directions.
There was another minor issue that we struggled with: turning the entertainment system off. Try as we might, including reading the manual - yes, it's that bad - we couldn't find a way to have navigation on and the radio or CD player off. There's one power button for the entire thing, so we couldn't work out how to separate the functions to let us navigate the Cornish countryside without also listening to Pirate FM. If you know the secret, perhaps pop it in the comments below for the benefit of the greater good.
Gentlemen, start your engines
So far so good then. Lots of technology, plenty of comfort, design that works and space for all. What you don't get a lot of choice of, however, is engines. The i40 Tourer comes with the 1.7 CRDi diesel engine, either with 115 or 136PS. Our review was the more powerful 136PS, paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
If you're going solo, that 1.7-litre turbo diesel feels powerful enough in regular driving, even if it doesn't really rise itself to being a hugely exciting drive. Load up with passengers and luggage, as an estate is intended, and it feels as though it could do with a little more power. The 1.9 TDI of our ageing Pocket-lint Passat, although rated at a similar 130PS, offers faster acceleration and handles hills better on the 5-speed gearbox - and that's 10 years old.
The i40's pairing to a 6-speed gearbox keeps up with the Joneses, but in a laden car over undulating terrain you'll find yourself switching up and down a lot. The 6-speed box might have been configured for economy, but again, that didn't seem to be the case. On a straight motorway blast with a laden car we didn't see our average get much above 45mpg - again falling short of what we'd expect and what we regularly achieve in that older Passat.
In that lies the relative weakness of Hyundai i40 Tourer: although the ride and the handling are good, with the suspension firm enough to avoid the wallowing in the corners without giving a harsh ride, it's the lack of get up and go power in the package.
If you're driving is mostly on the fairly flat M4 on your own, then there's little to complain about. But if you're wanting to take advantage of those occasional overtaking lanes going up hills with 2.4 kids, then you'll be looking at dropping two gears and hitting the high revs to get the sort of propulsion you want.
There's a lot to love about the Hyundai i40 Tourer. There's plenty of space both for the passengers and for luggage in the boot. Hyundai has packed out this Premium SE model with plenty of technology, much of which is standard on lower spec models too.
Our only reservation would be when it comes to the delivery of the power. We'd prefer a little more kick, or better real-world economy. Even so, we've enjoyed living with the Hyundai i40 Tourer. It might not have initially been on our estate radar, but it certainly is now.