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Review: Hyundai H1 goes ‘rogue’

2016-09-14 09:05

Charlen Raymond & Janine van der Post

PRACTICAL, CAPABLE H1 VAN: Hyundai's H1 panel van is more rugged than the standard bus and well-suited as a delivery vehicle. Image: QuickPic

Cape Town - Hyundai’s H1 is not unfamiliar to South Africans. The motoring public received the van quite well since its launch and its been aiding local families with road trips and school runs.

The H1 also found favour in the private transport sector, with businesses adding many units to their fleets.

The problem is that the Hyundai only offers the H1 as a family proposition and businesses had to work around that. Until now...

A van for business

Enter the H1 panel van. Hyundai realised that if it is to tap into the commercial market it needs an affordable carrier, capable of transporting cargo. To achieve its goal, the automaker stripped-out the bells and whistle, ditched the rear seats in favour of a load bay and converted its H1 people-carrier into a panel van.

The panel van has the same design as the H1 bus but looks substantially dull in comparison. It's has 16” steel rims and no rear-side windows, with metal panels covering where the windows would have been. Only the rear doors have windows.

READ: Hyundai’s refreshed, upgraded H1 range in SA

The H1 panel van’s interior is suited to three passengers, albeit along the single front bench. It has the same seats as the H1 family bus but is only sufficient for trips between business meetings/deliveries. The three-piece bench can move to free-up more leg room.

The aftermarket-looking radio offers Bluetooth, USB/AUX connectivity and the van has several  speakers. Power windows, air-con and power steering add a bit of luxury to the otherwise utilitarian cabin.

The load bay of the panel van can be accessed by the sliding side-doors or the rear. It boasts a total load capacity of 4426 litres. The space is vast and can house many objects of varying sizes, perfect if you're in need of a delivery vehicle.

On the road

Hyundai’s familiar 2.5-litre diesel engine does duty in the H1 panel van. The turbo unit delivers a healthy 125kW/441Nm that propels the van with little effort. The engine is mated to a five-speed auto but sadly it's unrefined and can be confused as to which gear to select. Selecting gears manually is an option but there's some delay before the selected cog is engaged.

READ: H1 Multicab: Truck? Bus? Both!

Despite the peculiar drivetrain, the panel van does not feel too out of place on the road. It goes about its business with no fanfare and does little to frustrate its driver. Artisans will appreciate the H1’s versatility and will not have any issues with the van’s on-road credentials and the sufficient comfort it provides over both long and short distances.

Price: R459 900

Image: QuickPic

Team opinion

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post shares her views on the H1: 

Give me a people-mover to drive and I’ll smile for days. Even if it's mundane-looking or doesn’t have any power figures to write home about, as a mother, it makes no difference to me.

More bums able to fit in seats, the happier I'll be. The Hyundai H1 is one of my favourite large vans available locally, and one I would seriously consider purchasing. Not only can it seat up to six to nine passengers - depending on whether you opt for the H1 Multicab, or the 9-seater - but it has a humongous cargo area!

I have a large family and so does my significant other. With an H1 van, we can all fit into one vehicle when we need to make the trek to Hout Bay or Saldanha Bay for a family gathering,  much to the grandparents’ delight. Nobody needs to stress about being claustrophobic and with ample stowage, there’ll be loads of padkos available.

Many items are needed during a family trip. We'll require space for the BBQ ‘smoker’ used by my father to prepare Angelfish as well as several pots and dessert dishes. Let’s not forget the coolerbox, along with toys to keep my toddler entertained.

I experienced the 2.5-litre GVT derivative and I grateful for the auto transmission, especially in bumper-to-bumper traffic and the winding S-bends from Hout Bay via Cape Town's northern suburbs. The drive is comfortable; it's as if you’re driving a regular sedan and you hardly notice  the size of the car when cruising along scenic routes. 

Another bonus is its fuel consumption. The 2.5-litre proved to be very frugal. Figures are claimed at 9.8-litres/100km but on a good day, I managed 8.8-litres/100km. With a full load of passengers, and enough food to feed an army, I expected 11.1 or 12.0-litres/100km.

It may not be as stylish as TV presenter Minnie Dlamini's bikini photographs but it's a decent people mover and if practicality is what you're after, curvaceousness is not the order of the day. 

Priced from R614 900 for the 2.5-litre auto, it comes with a host of convenience features and niceties such as aircon and glove box cooling. Pricey, yes, but definitely worth it for a large family.


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