A bold variation on the 4x4 theme
SO WHAT have we here? Yet another compact 4x4 that further complicates the decision-making process for anyone who thinks their life would be enhanced by a chunky soft-roader? Yes and no.
The Hyundai ix35 unmistakably is a compact SUV of sorts and yes, it's one of a huge number of such vehicles that people who quite fancy the idea of a taller more rugged family car now have to trawl through.
What it isn't is a 4x4, at least not in the 2WD guise that we're investigating here and that most customers will end-up buying.
Should a lack of four driven wheels put you off? Is the Hyundai's variation on the theme worth forgoing all the others for?
In 2WD form, the ix35 has less grip and this can be felt when accelerating hard, particularly in the powerful 2.0 CRDi diesel model.
You might get a touch of wheelspin when pulling out of junctions or feel the steering wheel tug slightly in your hands as the front wheels battle for purchase.
Otherwise, the front-wheel-drive models have exemplary manners. The ride is smooth and although there's a little more roll through the corners than in the best handling compact 4x4s, it's nothing serious.
Performance from the 2.0 CRDi model we tried was very impressive.
The engine can sound a little rough at times, but it's never noisy, and with 320Nm of torque, it has a big surge of acceleration.
0-62mph takes 9.4s, while a 4x4 ix35 with the same engine takes 10.2s, partly due to its 70kg increase in weight.
The ix35 is one of the most adventurously styled Hyundai models we've seen.
Its aggressive nose and sharply contoured flanks bear more than a passing resemblance to the Ford Kuga, but perhaps that's just a coincidence.
The curves mask the chunky 4x4 dimensions very effectively and help give the car its alert stance on the road.
The cabin is pretty good, though perhaps not as successful as the exterior from a design perspective.
You really couldn't grumble about the amount of space on offer inside with rear legroom plentiful and a 591-litre boot with a wide aperture and a flat floor for sliding items inside.
The rear seats split 60:40, folding down to create a 1,436-litre capacity, but they don't slide or recline.
Without the weight of the 4x4 mechanicals, the 2WD ix35 models gain lower running costs, but the difference isn't huge.
A 2.0 CRDi model returns 49.6mph with all-wheel-drive and 51.4mpg without. Emissions of CO2 are measured at 149g/km and 147g/km respectively.
Go for the 2.0-litre petrol engine and you'll get 37.7mpg combined economy with 177g/km emissions.
It's also worth noting that the extra weight of features fitted to the Premium models increases fuel consumption by around 5mpg.
For most compact 4x4 buyers, the difference between a front and four wheel-drive model will be negligible.
Like many of its contemporaries, the Hyundai ix35 offers customers the choice and although the premium for a quartet of driven wheels is temptingly small, most will stick with the 2WD option.
The 2.0 CRDi diesel is a fine engine with powerful performance and the driving experience is well judged for the kind of usage the typical ix35 owner will have in mind.