The crossover market, pioneered in modern form by the Nissan Qashqai, is booming. More new entrants are arriving as people seek vehicles that are barely bigger than a family hatchback but have many of the characteristics and the looks of an SUV. One of the most popular of the genre is the Hyundai ix35 and the company facelifted this model earlier this year. Now it has launched a new engine in the form of the 1.7 CRDi turbo diesel. The range already includes one oil burner in the 2.0l diesel but the company says the 1.7 option is a brand new engine developed entirely in-house.
It is a full Euro 5 specification unit, which means it has to use 50ppm diesel or even better, Sasol’s 10ppm. Using anything else risks damaging the engine and, of course, if you use the best fuel available then you will get the full benefit of the best consumption and engine longevity. The engine delivers 85kW at 4,000r/min and 260Nm of torque between 1,250r/min and 2,750r/min. The company is claiming an average of 6.5l/100km and CO2 emissions of 139g/km.
The new derivative is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox and in Premium specification, which means you get a raft of bells and whistles, including a 4.3- inch touchscreen infotainment system, leather and cloth upholstery, loads of storage spaces and a list of safety equipment that is longer than the average weekend grocery list. Included in the price of R359,900 is also a five year/150,000km warranty, five-year/90,000km service plan and a five-year/150,000km roadside assistance package. If you want more, or if you are looking for an automatic then you will have to shell out for the 2l with its Elite specification, but the question that needed answering on the launch was whether you need to.
Heading out from Roodepoort on Johannesburg’s West Rand, the engine provided really good response, so much so in fact that I imagine it could embarrass a few larger but older diesel mills, especially those that suffer from the dreaded turbo lag at altitude. There was almost no lag with the new engine as we travelled through the urban environment. The sixth gear is very much a cruising gear with torque available for high speed overtaking, but generally I had to drop at least one gear to pass anything. Here the 2l will show a marked difference over its lesser sibling.
Travelling through the Broederstroom area the engine pulled really well, particularly on the uphill stretches but when we came across a farmer putting foot up the hill in his Toyota Land Cruiser bakkie, the ix35 lacked the true kick to pass him. Even with the accelerator flat to the floor, the Land Cruiser with its mountain-moving torque stayed ahead. It wasn’t even going that fast, just fast enough to show that the ix35 lacks that top-end power.
The rest of the time it was smooth sailing, even when travelling over some gravel road sections on the route. Here the engine again showed a willingness to cruise which combined well with the comfort levels I expected of the vehicle. Body roll was a bit more noticeable than I expected but this was almost cancelled out by a superb level of protection from noise, vibration and harshness, particularly when it came to the very quiet interior environment. Hyundai has created a great engine, which matches the crossover nature. If you are looking to spend more time travelling out of town than in it, then I would suggest you go for the larger 2l model, even more so if you intend to tow anything, but if you are a city slicker who occasionally ventures beyond the city limits then it should serve you well.
Interestingly. a spokesperson for the company said Hyundai has no plans to share the engine with sister company Kia. It remains to be seen if that will actually be the case because I think it will also suit many a Sportage driver. Apparently there are also no plans to put it in any of Hyundai’s sedan or hatch models, which would also be a pity because it will be even more responsive in something like the Accent or Elantra. Pricing for the ix35 ranges between R324,900 and R469,900.