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2019-01-11 10:00

Lance Branquinho

Image: Quickpic

As South Africans return to routine after their summer vacation, the school-run becomes a notable feature of the daily commuting burden. 

Popular and capable as most SUVs are, they can never approach the adaptability of an MPV for transporting kids to school and extramural afternoon activities.

Crux of the matter

Truth be told, unless you desperately require the gravel travel ability of an SUV for that yearly long duration vacation, there is perhaps no better holiday vehicle than an MPV.

READ: Driven: Hyundai's refreshed H1 bus goes the distance

Very few South Africans take the option of running an MPV as their family car, but those who do, which MPV do they choose? If you need a large MPV there are only two real options in the local market: Hyundai’s H1 and VW’s T6 Kombi/Caravelle range.

                                                                          Image: Sergio Davids / Wheels24

Mercedes-Benz markets the V-Class too, but selfishly keep its sales volumes for this MPV a secret. Collating the sales data from 2018, VW inherits the position of dominance amongst local MPVs.

The non-commercial T6 range found 1788 owners last year. Hyundai’s H1? Total 2018 sales volume was 1331. Those numbers calculate to a 33% larger market share for VW, but does its margin of victory over Hyundai – by a third – reveal the full story about South Africans and their MPV preferences?

Best of both worlds

It is worth noting that the respective T6 and H1 model ranges are not similar in size or diversity. VW’s T6 range combines a similar engine, platform and cabin architecture in both Caravelle and Kombi.

It also features five different grades of the 2-litre turbodiesel engine, ranging from 250 - to 450Nm, and a total of 14 derivatives. By compassion, Hyundai’s H1 range is a lot narrower, which could account for the differences in total sales between these two preferred South African MPV platforms.

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Hyundai markets only two H1s in South Africa, a 2.4-litre petrol and 2.5-litre turbodiesel.

If a range that small can come within a third of VW’s total T6 sales, it is a great credit to the fundamental correctness of Hyundai’s H1 design and the appropriate specification and price position that has been applied locally by product planners.

                                                                          Image: Quickpic

What is the MPV outlook for 2019? The market should remain much the same, with VW and Hyundai dominating. Ford’s Transit will continue to do medium volumes whilst in the robust bulk personal transport segment, Toyota’s Quantum will sell in immense numbers – as it always has. 

An interesting alternative, if Opel has the wherewithal to market it locally, is the new Zafira Life – revealed earlier this month. A nine-seater large MPV, it’s offered in three lengths and there is a promise of battery power by 2021 too.

Opel’s large MPV is more attractively styled than Hyundai’s H1 and could potentially be a better value proposition than VW’s T6s. Whether it arrives in South Africa during 2019, will depend greatly on the Rand/Euro exchange rate. 

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