First Drive: 2018 Hyundai H1

First Drive: 2018 Hyundai H1

Since its launch locally in the first quarter of 2009, Hyundai’s H1 range has sold 17 633 units — 14 424 of those comprising the people-mover bus. Some 2 272 units were of the panel van, while the remaining 937 were of the multicab permutation.

Almost a decade on and the H1 continues to flourish as it remains a well specified and priced MPV among its rivals, with the entry-level 2.4-litre (126kW and 223Nm) petrol version being a popular offering among shuttle and fleet management companies alike.

The 2.5-litre turbodiesel (125kW and 441Nm) version remains the sweeter of the two engines, thanks to its effortless power delivery and relatively thriftier fuel consumption of 9.8l/100km versus the petrol variant’s 10.2l/100km, which is more in real world conditions.

For 2018, the company has taken the H1 under the knife, with changes including a new chrome slatted grille and horizontal light clusters, while viewed side-on a new set of alloy wheels is the fundamental change. The rest of the design remains largely the same.

Hop into the cabin, however, and things like the new infotainment touchscreen (sadly navigation is an option) as seen in the Tucson and Creta and most recently the i20 is the main change, while the steering wheel now also includes reach adjustment over and above the tilt function. There is also a chilled glovebox.

Altogether, the changes are subtle, but there was little wrong with the product itself and, to be honest, it has aged gracefully in the wake of much newer entrants to the market.

That said, we managed to nose the updated H1 diesel Elite toward Cullinan, east of Tshwane and the model impressed with its easygoing, effortless and comfortable disposition, while offering acres of space for up to nine occupants (eight more comfortably).

The engine is gutsy with enough torque to overtake slower moving traffic safely and with relative ease. The five-speed automatic gearbox might be behind times in the number of ratios, but it is still a smooth operator and does well to keep the engine in the meaty band of its torque delivery.

We then switched from tarmac and onto some gravel sections where the vehicle’s suspension was put to the test and it managed the exercise with exemplary composition with little in the way of interior rattles and squeaks. It’s an ideal vehicle for long vacation family sojourns, thanks in part to its 842-litres of boot space behind the rearmost seats, which means that with well-judged packing you can dispense with the need for a luggage trailer in tow.

With a starting price of R499 900 for the petrol H1 wagon, R464 900 for the diesel panel van and R629 900 for the diesel H1 wagon, the model continues to be an excellent proposition for both personal and commercial use.

According to the company’s director of sales and marketing, Stanley Anderson, the multicab version will only be offered on an order basis, citing a relatively low uptake of the model.

All come standard with a five-year/90 000km service plan and seven-year/ 200 000km warranty.

Anderson says the current H1 will carry on for the next two to three years before an all-new model is introduced, giving the model a long life cycle.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced that it will in the fourth quarter introduce both the Kona (B-segment crossover) and the new Santa Fe. Interestingly, the former will be playing in the same segment as the Creta, so it will be interesting to see, first, how it is priced and, second, how this will affect Creta sales going forward. – Lerato Matebese

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