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The Hyundai H1 – a practical choice


Last week I drove the latest Mercedes-Benz V220 CDI.

It sits at the top of the luxury van chain thanks to its S-Class-like characteristics. The downside is, it’s a tad pricey. Do you need all the electric doors, the ambient lighting and the retractable table? I spent time with the updated Hyundai H1 to see if a basic van setup is any good.

The Hyundai H1 is loved by many fleet companies for the simple reason that it is able to get the job of transporting a bunch of people from point A to point B as effectively and as comfortably as needed. Sure it lacks some fancy features like those found in the Mercedes-Benz, but that's okay because the H1 is not trying to emulate the Mercedes-Benz.

The design

The H1 is simpler, even in its design. It’s a large vehicle, a touch over 5.1 metres, in fact. Styled to be as spacious as possible, the H1 is not a thing of great beauty to be honest - though the large dual-slat grille does blend well within the oversized proportions.

Those oversized proportions do however benefit the interior. You see, the H1 is able to seat nine passengers in relative comfort. The rear seats are also adequately adjustable for various needs. Unfortunately it doesn’t have the same lounge-like configuration as the V-Class but it does have a potent air-conditioning system at the rear.

The interior

The interior trim is durable; not nearly as classy as the Benz, but it looks good and will hold up much better against most children. The interior has been enhanced to feel more premium and compared to the previous model H1, it does - especially when you feel the leather-wrapped steering wheel.

As for the infotainment system, well forget a Tablet-like screen, the H1 makes use of an easy-to-use radio system, which has been neatly fitted into the dash. From here you can control the USB, CD, AUX and even your Bluetooth connectivity.

The drive

Out on the road, the H1 won't set your pants on fire but it drives really well, it’s relatively comfortable and - thanks to its rectangular design - it's easy to park. Behind the wheel, you do feel as though you’re in a large vehicle, but it's never overwhelming.

Under the hood I found the 2.5-litre turbo diesel with its 125kW and 441Nm of torque more than up to the task of hauling your mother-in-law. The car that I tested was also fired with an automatic gearbox. It's not the most refined thing but it beats having to do it yourself. I averaged an impressive 9.0 litres, during my time with the car, which is good.


Now if it was class-leading luxury that I was after then I'd go for the Mercedes-Benz V-Class, or if I wanted a good quality, practical, people-mover that’s proven itself, I'd get the H1. In fact, taking into account the price of the Mercedes, I’d have two H1s at R579 900. A more reasonable competitor includes the VW Kombi, which is similarly priced.

The refreshed Hyundai H1 comes with a five-year/150 000km warranty, a five-year/90 000km service plan and five years or 150 000km worth of roadside assistance.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
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