Hyundai i40 Tourer: Lifestyle Alternative

By Lee Pang Seng
TOURERS belong to a niche market. They offer lifestyle motoring for those who like to sit low, with good and flexible interior room, and decent power to move quick enough without burning much fuel. Back in the old days (read that as the 70s and 80s), tourers were more commonly known as stationwagons in the local market. Then, such vehicles were widely used as commercial vehicles to transport goods while a few were bought for private motoring.

Perhaps the marque that gave a lifestyle meaning to stationwagons here was Volvo, especially with the 850 T5 Wagon that had strong turbo power to make driving exciting, both in a straight line and through winding stretches. If the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) didn’t tweak the rules back then regarding body profiles, this Volvo Wagon would have dominated the event for quite a few years.

Tourers today continue to provide a lifestyle option although SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) have become the preferred alternative in most markets. Its appeal has become rather niche as a result but this trend has not stop car companies from coming up with Tourer options to meet the demands of this limited market segment, mainly in Europe.

Hyundai has such a model in the i40 that was originally designed and developed for the European market, where Tourers sell in fairly good numbers. Hyundai-Sime Darby has brought in the i40 Tourer to feel the market when it introduced the i40 range here late last year.

The i40 appears to be a model in between the Elantra and Sonata, especially with headlights of the former and a body size comparable to the latter. For the Tourer, the rear lights also looked similar to that of the Elantra, while the i40 sedan has a different rear light styling. Its wheelbase of 2770mm is longer than that of the Elantra and close to that of the Sonata, which is not unexpected as the i40 is developed from the platform of the Sonata sold in the US.

It was designed at Hyundai’s R&D centre in Russelsheim, Germany, that focuses on cars meant for the European market. However, it is manufactured at Hyundai’s Ulsan plant in South Korea and exported to the respective market from there.

Powering the i40 is the new direct injection engine, this being the NU 2.0 GDI that is based on the more recent all-aluminium NU engine with long-stroke configuration (97mm bore against 81mm stroke). It has dual CVVT (continuously variable valve timing) on both the inlet and outlet valves. Output is higher with GDI (gasoline direct injection) delivering 130kW (177bhp) at 6500rpm and 213Nm at 4700rpm. Transmission is a six-speed automatic with manual change option via the steering wheel paddles.

The Tourer is a heavier car over the sedan as the rear door, which is electrically opened either with the key fob or via an interior control, carries the added weight in the padding, glass window, and other ancillaries. This would mean more weight to carry over the sedan although the GDI engine has enough torque coming in early to provide a good initial pace.

Power delivery on most counts is about average, which is adequate for some decent pace in overtaking and highway drive. We did have to prompt the accelerator quite a bit to get going but once it has gained the momentum, it would proceed along without too much engine speed. At 110km/h, the engine turned at a leisurely 2200rpm and the fuel miserly part of this power unit was seen at the end of the day when we returned the i40 Tourer: we had done about 220km, and the fuel needle was still two bars above half tank.

As most of that mileage was covered in urban conditions, which also included a limited full bore run up to 160km/h on the highway to check out its high speed dynamics, we feel this fuel consumption is pretty good for a 2.0-litre car. It could easily give its rivals a run for the money in low fuel bills.

Body insulation is well taken care of. During the times when we had the engine upshifting above 5000rpm to pick up speed, engine roar was heard but remained nicely muted. The slippery aerodynamic profile also did its job of keeping wind rustle to a tolerable level, especially at speeds above 120km/h. The good noise suppression measures along the doors and windows too did its share of keeping noise intrusion low.

Its MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension worked well enough to cushion the car’s passengers from harsh road impacts. The tuning was closer to the German cars than that for the Sonata: there was a firm feeling in the way it handled the respective road surfaces while at the same time, the degree of impact absorption over bumpy stretches was soft enough to make the ride pleasant.

We were a little surprised that the i40 Tourer rolled a fair bit more through winding stretches than expected. Perhaps it required thicker anti-roll bars to keep the body more level. This greater lean angle did not encourage higher speeds through our favourite corners. At the same time, the grip level through fast sweepers was also not as confidence inspiring as that of the Sonata, which we found a little odd. Maybe it is in the choice of tyres, which were 215/50 R17 Continentals (fitted on 7.5Jx17 alloy wheels) on the i40 Tourer.

Space-wise, the interior is roomy enough for five adults. We had to transport a bicycle that was loaned to us: although the i40 Tourer came with the optional Thule roof rack with bike clamps, we chose to check out the flexible interior. By folding the bigger section of the 60:40 rear seatrests, the bicycle fitted in nicely and still accommodated three of us.

The luggage area was already a sizeable one that could easily accommodate four golfbags. A retractable cover comes standard as is often the case with Tourers to keep out prying eyes looking for things to steal. There is a covered tray in the centre for the storage of minor items that sit on top of the spare wheel well.

In the driver’s seat, the ergonomics was generally good, although it was biased towards European preference: the central locking button is on the central dashboard panel rather than on the driver’s door binnacle. All the controls were clearly defined. As usual we like the push start/stop button: this is a one-touch facility. That means all we need to do was dab at the button and it will start or stop the engine accordingly: we don’t need to keep pressing on it for the action to be carried out.

The instrument panel was also neat and pretty smart in arrangement: each of the two main round dials had a smaller central module. The tachometer on the left had a centre module that indicates engine temperature in bar format and the gear shift position, while the speedometer on the right had a central module that indicates the fuel tank level (also in bar format) and a digital readout on the external temperature.

And like Sonata facelift model that we had a few days with last year, the i40 Tourer came fitted with a Safe Drive Recorder with 8GB SD card: it has a 132-degree viewing angle, speaker and built-in microphone with mute option, and built-in impact sensor. The panoramic sunroof adds to its lifestyle image although the rear seat video entertainment screens (which are standard to the Tourer and attached to the front headrests) look more of an add-on item than being part-and-parcel of the interior appointments.

As to its dimensional expanse, the i40 Tourer is as long as the Proton Perdana that we park alongside at our apartment. A slight misjudgement had us scraping the front bumper on the left against the garage post as we didn’t factor the more forward curvature of the unit at that point. We were more careful in subsequent parking manoeuvres.

All told, individuality is very much the Tourer’s forte in looks, more so than the i40 sedan though this model is not selling at the same volume as the Sonata. It does, however, come at a premium price to enjoy the lifestyle privileges: at RM178,888.00 on the road with insurance, the imported i40 Tourer tops the model range. The i40 Sedan Plus, though less exclusive in looks, is available at RM163,888.00.

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