UP THeRe WITH THE BEST

IF THE presentation at the launch last week of the new Hyundai iX35 is anything to go by, the gloves are off and the battle lines have been drawn between opposition manufacturers in the SUV (sports utility vehicle) market.

IF THE presentation at the launch last week of the new Hyundai iX35 is anything to go by, the gloves are off and the battle lines have been drawn between opposition manufacturers in the SUV (sports utility vehicle) market.

In I one corner you have the Germans with their newly launched BMW X1 and Volkswagen with their stylish Tiguan. In the other corner you have the Japanese with their Honda CR-V range, Nissan Qashqai, and Toyota Rav4, while the French add to the mix with the Renault Koleos.

Interesting mix and it should make for a good scrap!

Now while some of these prestige brands might laugh off Hyundai as a competitor, they will be doing so at their own risk, since what the South Korean manufacturer has done is go big with the launch of six all-new iX35s to replace the very popular Tuscon range. Designed and built in Korea, the price range is from R239900 up to R369900.

We can't describe here what each version has and hasn't, but on test at the launch I had the chance to drive a 2,4-litre 4x4 petrol with automatic transmission (R319900), so I will concentrate on that.

The interior is nice and spacious and legroom in the back is more than ample for four adults.

Leather is used for the seats and the instrumentation panel is simple and nicely laid out.

Being Hyundai, all the vehicles are well-equipped in the gadgets department. Some that you might find handy are audio remote controls on the steering wheel, full-function driving computer, 18-inch alloy wheels, electric folding side mirrors and cruise control.

One thing you might also be interested in is that the diesel flagship model has a dual panoramic sunroofs and push button start-stop.

A couple of figures relevant to the 2,4-litre is that it produces an impressive 130kW of power and 227Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is a claimed 9,2 litres per 100km; it will scoot to 100kmh in 10 seconds and 185kmh will be your top speed.

Being equipped with a six-speed automatic gearbox makes the journey all the more comfortable and electric windows front and back are also a standard feature across the range.

Six airbags, ABS brakes and electronic brake force distribution are just a couple of the safety features you will find. If a big boot is a requirement, you will be happy with the 591litres of space available.

One thing that does need pointing out with regard to the two diesel models, though is the fact it requires low sulphur diesel that is available only in South Africa. So if regular trips to neighbouring countries is your thing, and you want a diesel, you'll have to look at something other than the iX35. That's a pity!

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