$26,990 – $37,490
Good: The i45 has Distinctive four door coupe like styling; Classy interior; High levels of standard features; Excellent build quality.
Not so Good: Old fashioned boot hinges waste cargo space; Chrome grille hits you in the eye and there is no diesel engine offered.
Design and Engineering
Good : Arriving Down under in May 2010, the Hyundai i45 is an impressively stylish, interesting and expensive looking four door sedan with more than a touch of coupe in its lines. Hyundai call the brand’s new styling direction ‘fluidic sculpture’ and we’re fast becoming fans.
A huge design step over the i45’s predecessor, the years 2005 to 2010 generation Sonata. Interior space has improved thanks to a wheelbase which is 65mm longer and has a width of 1835mm. It’s one of the more spacious medium passenger cars for sale today.
Not so good : With a kerb weight of just over 1,500kg this is not the lightest car in the medium passenger segment but it is by no means overweight. The large chrome grille is a little excessive to a number of our testers’ eyes and the i45’s boot capacity is limited by old school ‘gooseneck’ hinges though in volume it is an impressive 523 litres.
Interior and Styling
Good : The theme, of flowing lines and impressive build quality continues inside. The almost futuristic driver’s instrument gauges look great thanks to the “Supervision Cluster” the dashboard controls are logically arranged and most materials feel good to touch, even though plastic quality still leaves room for improvement. The interior feels warmer than we expected considering the amount of dark colours evident. Keyless start (standard on all i45’s bar the entry level ‘Active’ grade), a steering wheel that adjusts for rake (up and down) and reach (in and out), and comfortable and reasonably supportive front seats also give the i45 interior the tick of approval. Leg and shoulder room is ample in both the front and rear and there are a number of useful storage options. The top dog ‘Premium’ grade comes standard with a fantastic full length three-piece panorama glass roof to create a light-filled interior, and the already generous boot capacity can be boosted by a 60/40 split-folding rear bench.
Not so good : The entry level ‘Active’ grade misses out on keyless start, the four-door coupe like styling demands an angled roof line which stakes high claims on head room for tall teens and adults sitting in the rear, the Sonata’s waistline is relatively high so unless you select the top dog ‘Premium’ grade with the panoramic glass roof, the interior can feel a little enclosed.
Good : The i45 is powered by a new direct-injection 2.4-litre four cylinder petrol engine that delivers an excellent 148kW of power and 250Nm of torque (in comparison its predecessor, the Sonata 2.4-litre, managed 127kW of power and 225Nm of torque – figures still above most of its competitors. With the impressive new six speed Automatic transmission combined fuel economy is an impressive 7.9 litres per 100kms which is far less than most petrol powered competitors (Hyundai says only a small number of buyers will go for the six speed Manual). On the road the i45’s performance generally lives up to the healthy on paper power and torque figures. It’s a powerful four cylinder engine with a healthy power to weight ratio and is definitely one of the more impressive ‘donks’ in the mainstream medium passenger segment. The six speed automatic transmission is responsive, but it it doesn’t allow the driver to quite reach the rev limit, forcing a gear change 500 revs too early (however likely a mute point as the i45 is not, and is not trying to be, a sports car).
Not so good : For truly frugal motoring, Australian buyers will have to wait as at this stage the i45 is available with the one petrol engine (however a petrol / hybrid variant is a likely future candidate). Diesel fans will regret that the i45’s predecessor, the Sonata, was offered with a turbo diesel yet this model is not.
Ride and Handling
Good : The i45’s chassis boasts improved body rigidity over the Sonata which enables better handling and on paper the traditional hydraulic (rather than electric) power steering system should translate to good steering feel. Within five months of the Australian launch Hyundai upgraded the suspension package for the i45 (October 2010 onwards to be exact), as a result the Amplitude Selective Dampers (ASD), previously only available on the i45 Premium is now standard across all grades. The update provides less damping force at low speeds and a firmer ride at high speed equating to a smoother low speed ride and improved high speed handling. At the same time the springs were also stiffened front and rear and extra sound deadening was added to the wheel arches to improve noise suppression.
Not so good : The October 2010 update has improved the response and weight of the steering compared to what it was at launch however it is still not one of the i45’s stronger points. It is not a natural feeling steering system and is excessively sensitive when turning into a corner which is not a big concern for the target market, but driving enthusiasts are unlikely to be fans.
Buying and Owning
Good : This car ticks the safety box with Electronic Stability Control, anti-lock brakes and six airbags including twin front, front side and side curtain airbags standard on all three grades. The entry level ‘Active’ grade features list includes an alarm, a hill-holder function, trip computer, automatic headlights, USB / iPod connectivity and a leather finished steering wheel with audio controls. The mid range ‘Elite’ grade adds a full leather interior, 17 inch alloys (over the Active’s 16 inch), keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, automatic climate control air-conditioning, rain-sensing wipers and steering wheel paddle shifters. The top spec ‘Premium’ grade additional features include 18 inch alloys, sports suspension, a panoramic glass sunroof and electric front seats with driver’s memory.
From October 2010, the Premium grade gains satellite-navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and heated front seats as standard. All Hyundai’s i45s also come with a five year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Not so good : The entry level ‘Active’ grade is priced higher than a number of competitors (but the i45 has more features), the Manual transmission grade misses out on cruise control (as do a number of rivals) and there is no frugal turbo diesel option.