Star in the tour bus car park is more than a bus

DRIV­ING IM­PRES­SION/ Mark Smyth put the lat­est Hyundai H1 to the test and found it to be very well equipped

Business Day - Motor News - - COMMERCIAL NEWS -

Ispent some time in the Kruger Park re­cently and while I spot­ted a few Toy­ota Quan­tums in the wild and even the oc­ca­sional Mercedes Vito or V-Class, it ap­pears that the tour bus of choice is the Hyundai H1. I even saw a few of the facelifted ver­sion just weeks af­ter it was launched.

Hav­ing spent some time with the H1 2.5 CRDI Elite, I’m not sur­prised by its pop­u­lar­ity.

Priced at R629,900 the top of the range seems pricey, but it’s cheaper than the Mercs and more solid than the Quan­tum. It is also very well equipped.

The lat­est ver­sion has a great in­te­rior, with a user-friendly touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, cli­mate con­trol and a dash­board that places every­thing well within reach, per­fect if you have a bus­load of tourists shout­ing as they try to take yet an­other happy snap.

But we were not trans­port­ing tourists while the ve­hi­cle was with us, in­stead it was do­ing duty on the school run and around town. Here it also proved to be a su­perb and ver­sa­tile pack­age, pro­vid­ing loads of space for the kids and their child seats and even de­cent space in the boot for all their para­pher­na­lia while all the seats were in place.

It is based on a com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle though and this does pro­vide one com­pro­mise and that’s the tail­gate. You could prob­a­bly shade a Smart car un­der­neath there when it’s open and that means be­ing very care­ful where you park it.

The H1 ticks all the boxes when it comes to equip­ment, but it also proved to be a real sur­prise when it comes to ride com­fort. I’ve crit­i­cised the lat­est V-Class for its firm ride, par­tic­u­larly for those in the rear where it should be the most com­fort­able. The Vito is the bet­ter-rid­ing Merc, but the H1 re­de­fines com­fort com­pared to all its ri­vals.

It floated around town with none of the typ­i­cal rear axle bump­ing that comes with not hav­ing a full com­ple­ment of pas­sen­gers and lug­gage.

At the same time, the CRDI tur­bod­iesel en­gine pro­vided more than am­ple power, in spite of its lowly 125kW. That’s helped of course by a de­cent 441Nm of torque and a strong gear­box, al­low­ing it to pull away well and main­tain a rel­a­tively quiet ride at na­tional high­way speeds.

It also han­dles well, with lit­tle in the way of body roll for a ve­hi­cle of this na­ture and steer­ing that gives good feed­back for a bus.

Then there is the de­sign. Hyundai didn’t make a big song and dance about the changes with the facelift of the H1, but that new fa­cade makes a mas­sive dif­fer­ence. It looks much more up­mar­ket than pre­vi­ous ver­sions, even dis­play­ing a hint of ath­leti­cism. It’s a bus but it’s a good-look­ing bus. The V-Class wins in the de­sign depart­ment in R629,900 125kW at 3,600r/min

Price: Max power:

441Nm at 2,000-2,250r/min 180km/h 14.4 sec­onds

Max torque: Top speed: 0-100km/h: Com­bined con­sump­tion:

9.8l/100km 238g/km

CO2 emis­sions: Star rat­ing:

my opin­ion but Hyundai’s de­sign­ers have el­e­vated the H1 to a close sec­ond in this re­gard.

But it is the over­all pack­age that re­ally counts, whether it is a ve­hi­cle to do the school run or as a bus to trans­port cam­era-click­ing tourists. Here the H1 rel­e­gates every­thing else to the tour bus car park. Its ride com­fort is su­perb, its in­te­rior pro­vides flex­i­bil­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity and it has a high enough level of equip­ment to make it vi­able as a fam­ily commuter ve­hi­cle should you have out­grown the tra­di­tional MPV or seven-seater SUV and, of course, if you can look be­yond the fact it is still a bus.

The re­designed fa­cade of the H1, left, gives it a more classy look. Far left: Boot space is great but make sure you have enough space to open the huge tail­gate. Below left: The in­te­rior is well de­signed with a de­cent level of equip­ment.

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