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Hyundai’s H1 Bus stays in the fight


When Hyundai launched their H1 bus in 2007 it soon became a favourite because it offered a classy package with very keen pricing – the only model available, a naturally-aspirated 2,4 litre petrol, cost just R295,900, which was considerably less than its rivals. Its 126 kW and 234 N.m. petrol engine slotted in in at the back of the field when it came to performance, especially at altitude where a turbo would have helped, but then again, this was a bus with seating for up to nine people. In 2010 they added a diesel engine to the mix and in January this year gave the range a facelift and added a few more luxury and safety features.

These include a revised dash layout, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, climate control, rear park distance sensors, glove-box cooling, and side airbags and an electronic stability control system to keep the plot together when things got dodgy on the road. The steering wheel is now leather covered, as is the gearknob, and has controls for the cruise control and sound system. There’s also a new bumper and grille, along with new 16” alloy wheels.


The bus sent to us for evaluation was the H1 turbodiesel nine-seater bus with a five-speed automatic transmission. This delivers 125 kW at 4,400 rpm and 440 N.m. of torque from 2000 to 2250, which allows it to reach the 100 km/h benchmark in 14,4 seconds. Top speed is claimed to be an academic 180 km/h, which places it near the head of the class in terms of performance. It’s a lovely performer on the road, and that gravelly engine sound adds personality rather than detracting from the driving experience. The gearbox works well enough despite not having a sixth gear, and there’s loads of torque available wherever the rev counter needle is pointing. Space is what it’s really about, and there’s lots of that. There are eight full seats, but the table top/console unit between the driver and passenger can be unfolded into a third front seat if required – as long as the occupant isn’t a 120kg 2 metre tall rugby player.

I really enjoyed the Hyundai, and could imagine converting one into a camper van with a towbar for a motorcycle trailer. The downside is that the damage inflicted upon our currency has hit Hyundai harder than other manufacturers, who earn import credits for the cars they send overseas. Hyundai imports all their cars, so full duties are payable and the H1 diesel bus now retails at R614,900. The petrol version with a manual transmission kicks off at a more reasonable R499,900, but the diesel version’s performance makes it much more appealing. It comes with a five year warranty on the vehicle and a seven-year / 200,000 km warranty on the drivetrain, as well as a five-year / 90,000 km service plan.

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