The 192 Hyundai i40 Saloon, available from Murphy & Gunn Hyundai Dublin Rathgar.

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Hyundai’s answer to the premium German saloons has been a smash hit. Here’s why:

Ireland’s executive saloon market has been dominated by the big German marques for as long as anybody can remember. Or at least – it was. But now there’s a new player in the game. It looks like it means business. It’s seriously clever. And it’s sporting a Hyundai badge.

This is, of course, the i40, the South Korean marque’s latest effort to design a premium four-door with enough appeal to bring down the likes of VW, Audi and BMW. It’s been a big success. The i40 has shrugged away the brand image of old and now, it’s so packed with new features you’d be forgiven for wondering whether you’re really driving a Mercedes E-Class.

The looks

This is one of the i40’s biggest wins. Both the Saloon and the Tourer versions looked great when they hit the market in 2011 – and they still do today. Hyundai has made some minor styling tweaks, chief among which is an update to the signature hexagonal grille, but the current i40 retains the sleek, dynamic profile that made it such a hit in the first place.

Elegant contour lines travel the length of the car to give an impression of speed, and even the base models sit on 16inch alloy wheels. You can opt for the 18inch versions instead if you’d prefer an even meaner-looking i40. In short – this is a very handsome car.

The driving experience

Stepping inside the i40, to be welcomed by blue LED footwell lighting, gives a real air of sophistication. Fire up the 1.7-litre diesel engine, of which there’s a choice of power outputs depending on whether you favour power or economy, and it’s hard to believe you’re in a reasonably priced Hyundai.

The engine is quiet and economical – very economical, actually, with a combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg – and it’s not slow to respond either. The base engine develops a respectable 118bhp, while the auto version gives out 140bhp, trouncing many of the i40’s rivals in this class.

The practicality

The i40 rises to all the challenges of everyday life. The rear seats, for example, can be split 60:40,

which means you can fit a flat-pack table in the boot and still have enough room for two adults in the back.

There are lots of smaller touches to make life easy in the i40 too – some of which you’d never even think of before you’re pleasantly surprised by them being there. On cold Irish mornings, for example, you don’t need to worry about frozen windscreen wiper blades because there’s a heating element concealed beneath the bonnet to melt the ice.

Then when darkness falls, the electro-chromatic rearview mirror (which is just as clever as it sounds), automatically senses and reduces the headlight glare from vehicles following you behind, keeping you both safer and more comfortable.  

The toys

Most Hyundais these days come with an enormous, full-colour touch screen as standard, and the i40 is no exception. The 7 inch display houses a capable Sat Nav system with TomTom live services to provide live traffic and weather updates, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the ultimate smartphone capability.

Select reverse gear and the infotainment screen will be replaced by a live video feed from a rear-mounted camera showing the view behind the car. Once you hit the open road, the automatic cruise control will maintain your speed until you intervene, and can be set to prevent unintentional speeding. 

The safety

The i40 lives up to the legendary safety reputation its siblings up and down the Hyundai range have established, with a raft of technological witchcraft working at all times to keep driver, passenger, dog and shopping safe as can be.

A Brake Assist System constantly assesses the road conditions and the weight distribution of the car to bring you to a standstill as quickly as possible. Electronic Stability Control monitors the car’s traction with the road and applies measured braking to each wheel to prevent a skid. And if there is an impact, passengers are protected by a total of 9 airbags around all sides of the car, including one to protect the driver’s knees. Which is why the i40 was awarded the maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

 

The bottom line

So there’s a lot of reasons to get excited about owning an i40. The biggest one, though, isn’t the show-stopper styling, the class-leading fuel economy or the five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. It’s the price. Which is a mere €28,020. Less than a VW Passat, less than a BMW 3 series and less than an Audi A4. Best to get in line for an i40 now. 

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