CAPE TOWN – Hyundai, like sister company Kia, has upgraded its best-selling SUV with a range of technological and styling enhancements, an improved new two-litre petrol engine and a new six-speed manual gearbox.The Kia version is the Sportage. The original ix35, launched in 2010, has generated consistently good sales – thanks a great deal to its reliability. Now come a new petrol engine as partner to the existing diesel, new gearboxes and new equipment.IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 Hyundai ix35There are six derivatives, their names based on the shared 2.0 NU engines:Premium ix35 with the two-litre petrol engine linked to either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto transmission.Intermediate ix35 2.0 NU Executive with the two-litre petrol engine and six-speed manual transmission.Elite, powered by the two-litre petrol engine and the other two by the two-litre turbodiesel. The range-topping R2.0 Elite is equipped with the two-litre turbodiesel, a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.All other derivatives are driven through the front wheels only.The exterior enhancements of the new ix35 include: • New projector headlights with LED accents • LED tail lights • New body-coloured front grille • Roof side rails and sunroof (an R11 000 extra on the Kia Sportage) • New 17 and 18” alloy wheel rim designs. Cabin enhancements include: • Two-stage latch-type reclining 60/40 split rear seats; • Tilt and telescopic-column steering wheel • Steering-wheel audio controls and cruise control for the Executive and Elite derivatives • Bigger cupholders with blue light illumination • Smart key with push-button start for the Elite derivatives • A new audio system (radio+CD+MP3) with Bluetooth • Bluetooth hands-free phone system with controls on the steering wheel • An 11cm TFT colour LCD touchscreen audio system which doubles as a screen for the reversing camera in the Executive and Elite derivatives.ENGINE UNINSPIRINGOne of the most significant upgrades, Hyundai says, is the replacement of the two-litre Theta II petrol engine with a new, super-efficient Nu two-litre multiport injection (MPI) engine that claims to supply a more even and efficient delivery of power and torque – with peaks of 116kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm respectively.The new petrol engine, Hyundai says, delivers higher peak torque at lower engine revs for everyday driving dynamics when compared with the previous multi-port fuel injected engine. Performance gains were achieved by equipping the engine with an efficient, responsive MPI fuel delivery system.Frankly, I found the petrol engine uninspiring, considering it has way more clout than my benchmark engine – the Ford V6 of the 1980’s that despite its displacement booted out only 103kW. Getting it on song takes some gear-stirring but, once there, it’s one of the quietest engines I’ve ever driven.So quiet that I even stalled it a few times. Sorry…AWD TOPS THE RANGEWhatever, the engine is available in combination with a new six-speed manual gearbox or an improved, very responsive and smooth-changing six-speed automatic transmission with manual/sequential override.Two of the new derivatives in the enhanced ix35 range are equipped with the two-litre CRDi turbodiesel engine that is also available (as in the Kia Sportage, too) with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed autobox. The two-litre which features all-wheel drive tops the range.I should have driven one at the launch this week but four of my colleagues (two dozy pairs) got lost and I was unable to switch to a diesel at the designated change point – nevertheless, having driven the diesel Sportage, I’d recommend opting for this much sprightlier power.The six ix35 derivatives offer a variety of specifications according to budget or requirement, though there is only one 4x4 version.SIGNATURE LIGHTINGAll benefit from a number of exterior changes that include a new design of alloy rims and restyled bi-function projector halogen headlights and LED “positioning” lights. The Premium derivatives run on new 17” alloys, the Executive and Elite models on 18” – the latter perhaps the better bet for Gauteng – once The Getagun province, now The Potholed Province.The cabins have Hyundai’s signature blue lighting, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry and foldaway mirrors with electric control for the ix35 Executive and Elite. “Even the front cupholders are illuminated with blue light for night drives,” the automaker proudly reports.Executive and Elite units have leather upholstery with adjustable lumbar support for the driver (though my driving partner, a lady with back problems, couldn’t detect the change as I moved the lever).The ix35 has excellent rear legroom and, a bonus, the rear seats recline. The cars also have lots of cubbies and slots and holders, which the media release kindly listed: • Console storage tray • Glove box • Overhead eyewear storage • Armrest compartment with tray • Two front drink holders • Two rear centre armrest drink holders • Four bottle holders – one in each door • Four map pockets – one in each door (wow, how many navigators is enough?) • Two seatback pockets • Cargo area storage compartmentThere is no mention of space for either a partridge, or its tree.Pity that all-wheel drive is only available on the top – and therefore most expensive – model but I suppose Hyundai SA knows its market. But this IS Africa and people do like to go off-road – few of them, however, have the bucks to afford nearly half a million of them for the pleasure.Shame.MULTIPLE AIRBAGSHowever, the ix35 Executive and Elite derivatives come with electronic stability control, hill-start assistance (why? I always ask) and downhill braking control (which is really only needed off-road and only one model is off-road equipped, go figure).The Executive and Elite derivatives are also equipped with front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors that cover all seats.The updated Hyundai ix35 is imported from Hyundai South Korea and from Hyundai in the Czech Republic.PRICES2.0 NU Premium - R319 9002.0 NU Premium a/t - R334 9002.0 NU Executive - R349 9002.0 NU Elite a/t - R369 900R2.0 Elite - R389 900R2.0 Elite a/t 4x4 - R449 900The Hyundai ix35 is delivered with a five-year or 150 000km warranty, a five-year or 90 000km service plan and five years or 150 000km of roadside assistance.For more information about the Hyundai ix35 click here.Full specifications.