IT'S 5000km down for our long-term test Hyundai ix35 CRDi, and it certainly now feels part of the family.
If I'm honest there's no bond of love between me and the Hyundai; such feelings I reserve for cars with real personality or sublime abilities, typically (and unfortunately for my wallet) these feature a Porsche badge on the bonnet or an M, AMG, RS or GTi badge on the rump.
There is deep respect for the ix35 however, and I am now no longer surprised it is the best-selling small SUV in Australia, considering how easy it is to live with.
Case in point, I had the choice of the ix35 or my Volvo V50 wagon to drive the 120km down to Lakeside Park Raceway (not to race the Hyundai you'll be pleased to hear), and I opted for the Korean over the Swede.
It would have been easier to take the Volvo as it was blocking the Hyundai in, but I guiltily backed the wagon out to free the ix35 up for my journey.
As the route is 95% motorway I could justify my choice - the ix35 is an excellent get-to-work and long distance cruiser - but I maintain I'd still be happier with the "true car" (not SUV) handling of my Volvo if the roads are twisty.
I took the ix35 into the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Montville on the weekend, complete with wife, child and the parents-in-law.
The extra weight of all these bodies did make the ride a bit crashier than usual, and up the steep and twisty Palmwoods-Montville road the Hyundai proved this wasn't its preferred hunting ground.
The handling wasn't necessarily bad, but it did wallow around a bit much for my liking and for the first time during my tenure, it couldn't hide its top-heavy SUV nature.
Positively, I had a play with the auto gearbox's sequential manual mode on the hill climb and can only report positively.
Holding the car in my preferred gear kept the diesel motor in a sweet spot to utilise its chunks of torque - an impressive 392Nm from this motor - and it felt veritably spritely.
Leaving the auto gearbox to do the thinking on such an undulating route did have it searching a tad, so I was impressed with the sequential mode's smoothness and will start to use it more for daily driving.
As a reminder, this ix35 is the "SE", meaning it was originally built in Europe for the European market, but has been shipped over to Australia to meet the greater demand here. This has meant a few extra appreciated goodies, no matter how seemingly irrelevant for the Queensland market. Heated front and rear seats? Okay, they'll be great if I ever visit the snow, but I'd swap them for sat nav given the choice.
The next report will include the Hyundai's first proper unsealed road excursion.
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