Hyundai ix35 Series II road test: Good car made better

The Hyundai ix35 Series II.
The Hyundai ix35 Series II. Iain Curry

TWO months of living with the brand new Hyundai ix35 Series II brings me to one if its key selling points: its Australianisation.

That is, the Korean car maker fine-tuning its suspension and steering especially for us.

It's an interesting concept. Has it suddenly taken to wearing thongs and a cork hat? Getting drunk with its mates in front of the footy or playing Men at Work repeatedly through its entertainment system?

Of course not. But I'm always a bit sceptical when I hear about car companies optimising their cars specifically for the market they're sold in.

It's an excellent idea on paper. But are Australian roads really that different to Europe's? To America's? China's? Even Iceland's?

In all the countries I've driven in (and it's a lot), I've found excellent super-smooth freeways, pitted and pot-holed city streets, bumpy and cambered country roads and bone shaking unsealed trails. And every country seems to have a mix of each.

So what are "Australian conditions"? I know the roads in central Sydney are a hell of a lot different to what I'll find in the Adelaide Hills; across the Nullarbor Plain; in the Snowy Mountains or up the never-ending Stuart Hwy to Katherine.

Just how you fine-tune a car's suspension and steering for conditions so varied seems an impossible task to me, but Hyundai has, to its great credit, given it a go.

With an SUV, especially a mass market one, it's about striking the right balance. No, it won't handle like a Porsche 911 or be as bump-absorbing as an S-Class Merc, but it needs to do most things well. To that end, I can happily report the ix35 achieves this. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of its mid-corner willingness and amount of body-roll while chucking it into the bends, there are SUVs that do this better, but also others that lag behind.

The basics are this: The ix35 does ride quite firm compared to a lot of its rivals, but personally I tolerate and quite like this in any car (as long as it's not too pronounced), and as my "Australian conditions" are typically excellent road surfaces, I've no grumble here.

The Series II ix35 has been given a 28% increase in spring rate, decreasing body roll over its Series I predecessor, and making it a tad more assured over bumpy surfaces.

In my mind, the Series I was never bad, but the Series II has moved the game on somewhat, as it should have after all the work performed.

Hyundai employed former Formula One suspension expert David Potter to oversee the suspension and steering changes in the new ix35, and was tasked to make the SUV feel right in all Australia's huge range of conditions.

Mr Potter and his team employed new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars for the ix35, and by all accounts the Hyundai feels well balanced with impressively direct steering, not least for an SUV.

If I've anything to complain about, the tyres lose decent grip a bit early when I start pushing into the corners, and the traction control does kick in eagerly and early to take throttle control away from the driver.

Then I remind myself it's an SUV typically used by my wife and thousands of other families to ferry the kids around in.

Finally, I was impressed with the Series I ix35's dirt road abilities, and pleasingly, the new model seems even more assured and if not comfortable, certainly not ruinous to the spine on the rough stuff.

A good car made better? I'd say so, and respect is due to Hyundai for trying to make the Series II ix35 a winner no matter the Australian conditions.

No easy task considering how varied our vast land is, but if it's about being good at everything rather than excelling at one, it's been time and money well spent.

Topics:  hyundai ix35 motoring road test

Vikings, horses, art and showbags at North Coast National

Vikings (left to right) Gabriel Hooper, Peter Romilio and Michael Rowe with a replica model of a Viking ship on display at the North Coast National Show.

PHOTO GALLERY: The iconic Lismore show is on today

Walk for human rights and refugees


Lismore will host a walk for refugees and human rights Saturday

Water main replacement means road closures

The area that will be affected by the water main replacement this weekend.

There will be a temporary road closure as a water main gets replaced

Local Partners

Finishing touches to beautify Bangalow Weir

FINAL finishes on the Bangalow Weir are underway and residents are encouraged to join an upcoming beautify planting day.

Former Split Enz front man Tim Finn finds new niche

Singer Tim Finn has written the music for theatre production Ladies in Black.

Musician finds his way to theatre

Jethro Tull is back to Bluesfest

ICONIC: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at Bluesfest 2011.

Jethro Tull returns to Bluesfest next April

Beth Hart will set the stage on fire

ON FIRE: Beth Hart, coming to Bluesfest 2017.

American singer/songwriter Beth Hart

Azealia Banks won't take legal action against Russell Crowe

Rapper Azealia Banks

Rapper drops legal action against Russell Crowe

Brad Pitt meets with his kids amid divorce proceedings

Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has met up with his oldest son Maddox

Pictures of Taylor Swift allegedly being groped are sealed

They could "complicate jury selection".

Bruce Springsteen finds therapy useful

Singer Bruce Springsteen

Singer encourages others to seek help

Kerry Washington wants one more child

Kerry Washington recently gave birth to her second child

Kerry has only just become a new mum again

TRAVEL: Musicals light up Sydney

David Campbell performs in Dream Lover.

We take a trip through one of Sydney's finer scenes

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge