TAKE A LOAD OFF YOUR MIND

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Being able to move a big volume of luggage or a large number of people in a secure and practical – or safe and comfortable – manner has become a key factor in the local transport environment, and the start of 2009 sees Hyundai Automotive South Africa introduce a pair of new-age vehicles to meet these very different needs.

The Hyundai H-1 is available as a van and as a bus, offering both private and commercial buyers an affordable solution whether it be carrying a four cubic metre load or a cargo of eight hotel guests. The bus crosses both private and commercial sectors and is appointed to offering a level of comfort that tourists as well as large, gregarious South African families will appreciate.

INTRODUCTION

With a rugged design which uses front-engined rear-drive architecture and has dual sliding doors, the H-1 is equally well-suited to the role of people-carrier or load-lugger. The current H-1 first went on sale in its home market less than a year ago and embraces the latest technology and manufacturing processes available in the Hyundai empire.

The brief for this second-generation H1 included providing a high level of safety. To this end there are sturdy crumple zones front and rear, four reinforced ‘rings’ aligned with the key body pillars and linked with them across the floor and roof, and side impact protection beams in all four doors. An all-disc braking system with four-channel ABS and electronic control of the fore/aft distribution of hydraulic pressure ensure maximum retardation whatever the load.

The H-1 has a sleek shape, with the nose sloping downwards to a capacious grille which is flanked by integrated headlight clusters.

The bonnet and windscreen are almost at the same angle, and instrumental in the H-1 achieving an excellent drag co-efficient of just 0:34. Both front and rear bumpers are a mix of body-coloured and dark grey plastic, and are designed to shrug off the bumps and knocks that come from operating in the urban environment.

The lower portions of the flanks are protected by durable plastic strips for the same reason and large exterior mirrors contribute to making this a surprisingly easy vehicle to manoeuvre, even in van format.

The voluminous body (the overall length is 5 125 mm and width is 1 920 mm) ensures vast amounts of space for all kinds of users, and the 3,2-metre wheelbase allows for three rows in the nine-seater bus. Interior height is 1 350 mm – a number which adds up to generous space whether the load is animate or inanimate.

The massive tailgate with a low sill height makes for easy loading, while ground clearance of 190 mm (the tyres of both versions measure 215/70×16) points to the fact that even the worst of roads can be confidently tackled in the course of the H-1’s duties.

Both the H-1 Panel Van and the H-1 Wagon will be infrequent visitors to the pumps, thanks to the frugal 2,4-litre Theta petrol engine which they share. With a 16-valve cylinder head and multi-point electronic fuel they produce 126 kW and 224 Nm. It is refined and smooth and configured specifically for torque in the mid-range. Drive to the solid back axle is via a five-speed manual gearbox.

A class-leading 5-year/150 000 km warranty, and 15 000 km service interval contribute to low ownership costs and peace of mind. The retail prices (R234 900 for the Panel Van and R289 900 for the Wagon) include a 5-year/100 000 km service plan.

Hyundai H-1 GLS Wagon

The H-1 Wagon is able to offer a mix of comfort, safety and value which is in short supply in this segment.

With the ability to seat adults in three rows of three (the position of the middle row, which is split 60:40 can also slide through a 100 mm range), comfort is pretty much ensured for all. Even with a full complement of passengers there is a generous amount of luggage volume and the Wagon certainly doesn’t suffer from the syndrome common to many MPV-type vehicles: when all seats are occupied there is precious little space for the luggage.

Leather furnishings all round add to the upmarket ambience for rear occupants, as do the independent controls for fan speed and air temperature. These, along with four air vents, are mounted in the ceiling. In addition, there are windows in the rear doors, and the rear quarterlights also hinge outwards from their leading edges for added ventilation.

The look and feel of the front compartment is especially plush, thanks to the widespread use of leather, textured soft-touch dashboard moulding, and metal-look detail trim for the hangdown centre section as well as the gearknob, handbrake release knob, door pulls and door lock releases, and steering wheel.

All ancillary controls are of the high tactile standard which has come to be a Hyundai trademark in recent years. Stand out features are a prominent auxiliary input socket and ventilation controls which enable the driver or passenger to take charge of temperature and fan speed for the rear.

There’s also a six-speaker CD frontloader sound system, electrochromic rear view mirror (the days of reaching out to select the night time setting are gone) and electric front windows with a one-touch down function for the driver.The double width front passenger seat is designed to accommodate two occupants but most of the time the middle portion of the backrest will be in the lowered position, revealing a pair of moulded cupholders and a recessed storage tray.

Additional moulded cupholders are in the side panels alongside the third row of seats and also in the door pockets of the sliding doors. An additional pair pops out from the centre console. Generous storage areas such as dual glove compartments, stash tray in the dashboard top, a roof-mounted sunglass case and map pockets in the back of both front seats should ensure that the interior never becomes cluttered.

Ride comfort, handling, and safety are all upgraded in the bus and the most fundamental change is the fitment of a five-link, coil spring rear suspension system to go with front and rear track widths which are the widest in the class.

The combination of these attributes enhances ride comfort considerably and the settings have been fine-tuned (which included fitting gas-filled dampers) to work in harmony with the MacPherson strut front suspension. Handling characteristics are docile yet precise with confidence-inspiring roadholding. Rack and pinion steering ensures crisp responses while hydraulic assistance reduces the effort required in tight situations.

In fact, drivers will find the H-1 Wagon pleasingly easy to park anyway and along with the generous glass area and substantial mirrors, an electronic park distance control system is fitted to the rear bumper.

In addition to its sophisticated braking system, driver and passenger have the added security of frontal airbags and seatbelts equipped with pre-tensioners. Outer passengers in both the second and third rows enjoy the comfort and safety benefits of inertia reel belts. The H-1 Wagon is also fitted with foglights both front and rear.

The specification of Hyundai’s H-1 Wagon has been carefully chosen to answer as wide a range of wants and needs as possible, resulting in maximum space and comfort at a price which effectively creates a new class of bus.

Hyundai H-1 GL Panel Van

With the H-1 Panel Van Hyundai is able to meet the steadily growing need for a vehicle which can transport a high-volume, high-mass load in a secure environment.

Dual sliding rear doors, twin side-hinged rear doors and a low floor are the basic requirements for this and Hyundai has added a large dose of user-friendliness to make the H-1 Panel Van the ideal companion for many trade and business users.

For example, floor and side-mounted securing rings allow for the load to be secured while the driver’s seat has a sturdy tubular frame behind it to protect against an unsecured load. Adding to its driver appeal is a remarkably agile 5,6 metre turning circle – an identical figure to that of the wagon.

Significantly, the van is fitted with leaf-spring rear suspension (as opposed to the wagon which has coils), this simple and durable configuration contributing to the vehicle’s payload of just over 1 100 kilograms.

That means as well as load measuring up to 2 375 mm in length, 1 620 mm in width and 1 350 mm in height it can also carry close to a genuine tonne – assuming the driver doesn’t tip the scales at much over 100 kilos!

The good news for the crew (including a third person if necessary, thanks to a bench-type passenger seat) is that their comfort, safety and security is also paramount – especially the driver who faces a height-adjustable steering column and has a well-contoured pew which provides a commanding view of the surroundings. As on the wagon the gearlever rises from the centre console, and it is seldom more than a hand’s width from the steering wheel.

Electric windows are fitted – with auto-down for the driver. Rear foglights are a push of a button away. The H-1 Panel Van also features a standard Radio/CD system. Height adjustable headrests are fitted. And there’s even an electrochromic day/night rear view mirror to prevent being temporarily blinded by a following vehicle having its headlights on high beam.

The option list is generous and includes central locking, air conditioning, alarm and immobiliser to enable business users to upgrade the vehicle to their exact specification. Hyundai don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach, realising that many corporate customers prefer to start with a well-balanced package and then add features if they see fit.