LARGER THAN LIFE: A 90 000km or five-year service plan means the first five to six services are covered by Hyundai. Image: Justus Visagie
Hyundai H1 2.5 VGTi Diesel Panel Van
I’ve liked vans since the 80s, when I watched Mr T - as BA Baracus - flamboyantly drive The A-Team’s black, grey and red GMC Vandura.
It made so much sense: the windowless flanks for stealth and privacy, the sliding doors for quick egress and the closet-style rear doors for shooting at a pursuing enemy.
Although my needs are more realistic these days, I still dig vans. And for some missions, a van is invaluable. When I helped organise a 4 000km motorcycle ride in aid of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), I needed a van for backup. Not only can it hold two weeks worth of luggage for four people, it can also swallow a whole bike, if necessary.
Acquainted with 'our' van
This ability was needed much sooner than I had hoped, when the van’s driver bailed out a day before departure. This meant that my Kawasaki Versys 1000 had to go into the van, which I would then drive. Johann (61), who has MS, would still ride the slightly smaller Versys 650.
Initially, I was like a child who’d had Christmas cancelled, because I wanted to ride the Versys 1000 alongside Johann. But it was not to be.
It did, however, get me acquainted with our van, a Hyundai H1 2.5 turbo-diesel.
READ: Review: Hyundai H1 goes ‘rogue’
The first thing I noticed was how comfortable and spacious the cabin is, with ample room for legs and knees.
The passenger bench, which seats one adult and a large child next to the driver, can slide forward when stashing things behind it. Or flip the small seat down and use it as an armrest, a shelf or to hold your cool drinks.
There’s a USB port for cellphone charging or music and an auxiliary jack, also for music. It has air-con, tinted electric windows, two airbags, ABS brakes with brake force distribution, cruise control and remote central locking – all standard equipment.
The H1 isn’t just well appointed, but also easy to drive. The engine is powerful (125kW power and 441Nm torque) and works well with the five-speed auto gearbox. This combo makes overtaking on the open road as well as city driving easy. The suspension gives a cushioning ride and the van feels manageable and simple to operate. The cargo area is easily accessible, thanks to sliding doors on either side and cupboard-type doors at the rear, just like BA’s Vandura.
The engine isn’t as fuel-efficient as the latest turbo-diesels would be, but at around 10 litres/100km, it wasn’t thirsty either.
Also, it can run on 500ppm diesel, where the most frugal engines require 50ppm, which is not available everywhere.
READ: H1 Multicab: Truck? Bus? Both!
A replacement driver presented herself quite quickly and though she usually drives a little Hyundai Getz, she quickly adapted to the van and loved driving it.
The big bike came back out and I was banished from the van. As my face cooked inside my bike helmet in the Karoo, I longed for the H1’s cooled cabin.
Buying a used van
At R459 900, purchasing the H1 new requires a significant investment. Buying it second-hand makes sense, as it’s a robust and well-built carrier with an extensive warranty: 150 000km or five years, plus an additional 50 000km and two years for 2016 (and later) models.
On Gumtree, I saw a 2013 model with 78 000km for R250 000 and on AutoTrader there’s a (less desirable) petrol-engined example from 2011 for R150 000. These Hyundais are sought-after vehicles, so if you spot a good one, don’t delay.
If your business doesn’t require as much freight capacity, get the fuel-efficient Peugeot Partner 1.6 HDi (R264 900).
If your operation is cash-strapped and you must buy new, consider the new Datsun Panel Van (R149 900).