David Motton

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HYUNDAI IS ON a roll at the moment. Across Europe as a whole, the Korean car maker has grown its market share for 30 months on the trot. That takes some doing.

There's going to be no let up in that momentum if Hyundai's ambitious plans come to fruition, with 13 new or revised cars to be launched in the next 18 months.

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HYUNDAI IS ON a roll at the moment. Across Europe as a whole, the Korean car maker has grown its market share for 30 months on the trot. That takes some doing.

 

There's going to be no let up in that momentum if Hyundai's ambitious plans come to fruition, with 13 new or revised cars to be launched in the next 18 months.

 

The new i40 is one of them. A rival for the likes of the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat, the Tourer (estate) arrives in September, with the saloon arriving in November.

 

We've had a chance to drive three versions of the Tourer. The 1.7 CRDi 136PS (134bhp) looks like the pick of the range for caravanners. Forget the surprisingly small engine capacity, with 240lb.ft of torque the i40 can shift along at an impressive rate. Only at low revs does the 1.7 feel a little lethargic. A kerbweight of 1648kg gives an 85% match figure of 1401kg, well inside the legal towing limit of 1800kg. We've asked Hyundai to loan us this model with a towball, so we'll let you know how it tows soon.

 

Official figures promise 62.8mpg on the combined cycle with carbon dioxide emissions of just 119g/km.

 

The 115PS (113PS) doesn't pull as strongly, but it's less tardy than you might think judging by its modest power output. However, the 135PS (133bhp) 1.6-litre petrol needs to be revved hard, and wouldn't be our choice for towing duties. There's also a 2.0-litre petrol, although unfortunately this version wasn't available to test.

 

Inside, the i40 shows the progress Hyundai is making in terms of design and fit and finish. It's a good looking interior, and a spacious one, too. I'm 6' 3", and had kneeroom to spare sitting behind a driver's seat adjusted for me.

 

Luggage space is right up there with the best family estate cars, with 553 litres with the seats up and 1719 with them folded.

 

Criticisms? The i40's steering feels light and detached around straight ahead, then weights up considerably. It's nothing like as precise or linear in its response as a Ford Mondeo's. The ride isn't as supple as a Volkswagen Passat's.

 

However, with prices starting from £18,395 we can see the i40 continuing Hyundai's rise. If the likes of Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen aren't worried yet, they should be.

 

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