If you are an estate car fan, it’s a fair bet that you have always hankered after a Volvo. If I went into a showroom and asked to drive a nice, plush, Volvo estate, and the dealer said, ‘Can I blind fold you before you test drive?’ I would obviously say, ‘No, that is dangerous.’
But hypothetically, if that happened, and then the slippery little salesman put me in a Hyundai i40 instead, would I be able to tell?
I used to be impressed that a Hyundai was as well made as a Vauxhall. But there were always one or two little things that grinned through, showing an underlying lack of quality.
Not anymore. These cars are as well made as any premium German brand, and as comfortable and smooth as Volvos.
Like the Swedish load-luggers, the Hyundai has very light steering, an airy cabin and generally strikes an old school – but not old fashioned – note; carrying an air of quality and assurance in everything it does.
The dashboard controls and steering wheel have a ‘soft-touch’ feel and anyone who enjoys the design touches of an iPad will love how the speedo and head lights come to life when you press he start button.
The i40 is wonderfully quiet at motorway speeds and nicely poised through the corners too.
When I took the blind fold off at the end of the test drive, I would be amazed I hadn’t been driving something with a more prestigious badge.
What is the market like?
These £20,000 luxury estates are arriving on the used car forecourts in surprisingly large numbers. As a result, for the first time in a long while, there is a decent drop on the used car values compared to new.
I’d hurry as it may not last. But for now, if you want an i40, you can get up to 15% off nearly new and pre-registered cars, saving £3,000 or so.
The one problem I see is that Hyundai are not the only manufacturer to have made great strides in their quality. Peugeot’s 508 is as well made, bigger and just as frugal, but it is up to £5,000 less on the nearly new market. Of course the Peugeot warranty isn’t as long, but with the saving you make, you could buy an aftermarket warranty.
A traditional family estate, that is as well made as a premium brand.