On the long road with re­vamped H1

COM­MER­CIAL NEWS/ De­nis Droppa puts Hyundai’s best­selling fam­ily bus to the hol­i­day-ve­hi­cle test

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Peo­ple movers are bought more for their util­ity than their styling, but Hyundai’s bus now an­nounces its pres­ence a lit­tle louder with a re­cent facelift.

A larger and more prom­i­nent grille, along with new pro­jec­torstyle head­lamps, give the ni­ne­seater a bolder face while the top-of-the-range ver­sion also wears stylish new 17-inch al­loy wheels.

It’s given the Korean bus a some­what more pre­mium look, and this con­tin­ues in­side the cabin with a smart new in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with a larger touch­screen with Blue­tooth cell­phone in­te­gra­tion, while nav­i­ga­tion is avail­able for an ex­tra R2,500. As part of an equip­ment up­grade, the new head­lamps now switch on by them­selves when it gets dark.

The bus is sold as a 2.4l petrol man­ual and a 2.5l diesel au­to­matic, and also a 2.5l diesel panel van. A mul­ti­cab is also avail­able on spe­cial or­der.

Safety has been boosted in the range-top­ping diesel ver­sion which has ac­quired sta­bil­ity con­trol and side airbags to go with the front ones. All ver­sions come stan­dard with ABS brakes.

We re­cently took the R629,900 top-of-the-range Elite diesel bus for a coastal get­away — just the kind of trip the H1’s de­signed for with its enor­mous fam­ily-sized cabin.

The bus takes eight pas­sen­gers in busi­ness-class lev­els of space with stretch-out legroom for all. All the back­rest an­gles can be in­di­vid­u­ally ad­justed, and the mid­dle row can also slide fore and aft for legroom.

A fold-up mid­dle seat in the front row serves as short-term seat­ing for a ninth per­son — but ide­ally a ver­ti­cally-chal­lenged one as there isn’t much space for their legs where the dash­board juts out.

On our Joburg-to-KZN trip there were four peo­ple aboard which wasn’t much of a test of the ve­hi­cle’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties, but it made for happy campers over the seven-hour jour­ney. The mid­dle-row pas­sen­gers joked that the cabin felt roomy enough to walk around and stretch their legs in, and that wasn’t too much of an ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

The third row re­mained empty as all the hol­i­day lug­gage com­fort­ably fit­ted into the cav­ernous 842l boot.

Once we ar­rived at the coast we ac­quired some ex­tra peo­ple for trips to the beach, and with eight on board there was still space aplenty for ev­ery­one along with their beach um­brel­las, chairs and cooler boxes.

GUTSY TORQUE

The 2.5 diesel has plenty of gutsy low-revving torque with 441Nm on call between 2,000 and 2,250rpm, along with 125kW of power. It pulls strongly up hills when fully laden, and it’s a quiet op­er­a­tor that keeps the agri­cul­tural flat­u­lence to a min­i­mum.

For its con­sid­er­able size the H1 isn’t par­tic­u­larly in­tim­i­dat­ing to drive. The steer­ing is light, it gets through cor­ners with­out feel­ing like it will im­mi­nently top­ple over, and the ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity out of the large win­dows makes it quite easy to thread through busy traf­fic. Park­ing this bus is some­what more of a chal­lenge but there’s a re­vers­ing cam­era in the rearview mir­ror to as­sist.

On­board comforts are plenti- ful and the re­cent up­grades in­clude re­plac­ing the pre­vi­ous man­ual air­con sys­tem with full cli­mate con­trol (with sep­a­rate vents and con­trols for rear pas­sen­gers). Also new is cruise con­trol, which proved handy at avoid­ing fines on the speed­trap­in­fested N3 free­way.

The H1 is SA’s best­selling fam­ily bus and the lat­est re­vamps are likely to keep it rul­ing the seg­ment, in spite of com­pe­ti­tion from the VW Kombi and Ford Tour­neo Cus­tom.

Re­freshed styling makes the H1 look less like a de­liv­ery van. Left: The in­fo­tain­ment’s been up­graded with Blue­tooth and a larger screen.

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