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All in the family

Hyundai’s newly revamped H1 Bus makes sense as well-designed transporter for large families.

 

 

 

 

Hyundai has recently restyled the variants that make up its popular H1 range, giving the models a fresh look aimed at broadening appeal among customers in the market for a comfortable people-carrier.

 

The front of the vehicle has been redesigned to emulate the looks of the brand’s sleeker passenger car and SUV line-ups, the make-over adding aerodynamic elements that help to strengthen impressions of modernity and efficiency. Inside the vehicle, the focus has been on increasing levels of comfort and convenience.

 

 

 

 

According to Hyundai’s figures, since its launch in South Africa in 2009 the H1 has sold 17 633 units – 14 424 of those attributed to passenger carrying models and the remainder representative of commercially focused panel van and multi-cab derivatives – the latter variant now available in South Africa only by special order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprehensively specified and competitively priced against MPV rivals, the H1 Bus can accommodate up to eight people in comfort and nine at a pinch, the extended front bench on the vehicle’s passenger side incorporating a centrally placed seat that’s suitable for a child. 

 

Incidentally, the backrest of that seat can be folded forward when it is not in use to act as an outsized drinks tray and stowage area for driver and front passenger, thanks to built-in moldings across its surface.

 

 

The passenger range’s most affordable derivative – which, according to Hyundai spokesmen, tends to be favoured by commercial shuttle operators for its comfort and utility – is powered by a petrol-fuelled, 2,4-litre engine which produces 126kW and 223Nm, with transmission through a five-speed manual gearbox.

 

 

 

 

However, it’s the flagship model in the range – the 2,5-litre, turbocharged, diesel-driven Elite version – that’s preferred by private buyers for its level of convenience features, and that’s the variant under scrutiny here.

 

The engine produces 125kW and 441Nm, the high amount of torque contributing to easily maintained momentum and commendable fuel consumption – a claimed 9,8 litres/100km, more than half a litre better per 100km than that of the petrol-fuelled unit.

 

 

 

Though a large and heavy vehicle in terms of dimensions – it is 5 125mm long, 1 920mm wide and 1 925mm high, tipping the scales at over two tons – the H1 proves surprisingly light on its wheels.

 

Handling characteristics are fairly car-like while steering is communicative, the hydraulically assisted rack and pinion system responding crisply to driver inputs and, at parking speed, helping the front wheels to turn easily. 

 

 

 

 

 

On the subject of parking, the flagship incorporates a rear view camera as standard equipment, a helpful tool when reversing the vehicle. Also, the cabin has generous glass areas at the front, rear and along the flanks, not only aiding the outward view from the driver’s seat but also contributing to the interior’s light and airy ambiance.

 

 

 

 

 

On the road the vehicle rides comfortably, its McPherson strut front suspension and gas-filled shock absorbers tending towards the compliant in dealing with tarmac imperfections. At the rear, the five-link system – aided by oil-filled dampers – feels slightly firmer without being harsh, while noise and vibration factors within the cabin have been adequately contained. 

 

From a performance perspective the H1 behaves less sluggishly than its acceleration figures suggest, able to easily maintain pace with traffic flow from standing starts and, at higher velocities, having enough power in reserve for overtaking manoeuvres. Top speed is a claimed 180km/h, while the zero to 100km/h time is said to be 14,4 seconds.  

 

Transmission – which is to the rear wheels – is by way of a five-speed automatic gearbox which swops cogs efficiently if not particularly quickly, its management system focused on keeping the engine spinning in the meat of the torque band. An electronic stability programme – a worthwhile addendum for a vehicle of this size – is a standard feature on the flagship.

 

Other safety features include an anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, front and side airbags, projectile headlights, rear fog lights, side impact protection beams, remote keyless entry and child locks on rear doors.