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Hyundai i40 nears perfection

Feb. 8, 2015 - 19:47 By Korea Herald
I must admit that Hyundai Motor’s new i40 diesel sedan is virtually impeccable, even for a petty-minded and cautious driver like me. 

From the smooth, sound driving features to the comfort of the back seat, the revamped version of the mid-weight sedan ticks every box on my watch list.

Even Hyundai’s “aerodynamic family look” that makes all the automakers’ models look the same, with only differences in size and length, started to grow on me when I looked at and experienced this car from the inside. The upgraded facade with a larger hexagonal radiator grille enhances the exterior’s masculinity while LED-studded head and taillamps boost both the trendiness and safety.

The media test-drive for the new i40 was held on the highway between W Hotel Seoul Walkerhill in eastern Seoul and Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, on Wednesday. A minor traffic jam on the Olympic Highway was a good opportunity to experience Hyundai’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which was added to the feature.

The seven-speed DCT, Hyundai explains, reinforces fuel economy and sportiness at the same time. But to me, the sense of stability and security was higher than the sportiness when driving.

With such a smooth transmission, the drive was smooth even at speeds well above the limit. The advanced traction cornering control gives a sense of safety and security.

The smooth ride was fittingly tranquil as well, with the 1.7-liter e-VGT diesel engine with 141 horsepower and a maximum torque of 34.7 kilogram-meters allowing for a quiet ride at every speed. The combined fuel economy of 16.2 kilometers per liter is an improvement from the previous 15.1 km/l, thanks to several features including the start-stop engine idling system.

Above all, the new i40 made driving fun. The power steering wheel was rather heavy but exciting to operate, and while the transitions such as to eco and sports modes didn’t feel substantial, they nonetheless brought some color to the driving experience.

Hyundai is targeting overseas markets with the new model, chiefly rivaling Volkswagen’s Passat at home and abroad especially with a better fuel economy, according to company executive Kim Sang-dae.

The price for Hyundai i40 diesel sedan starts from 27.4 million won ($25,000) and its gasoline versions are 2.5 million won cheaper.

By Bae Ji-sook (