THE H1 designator may not be too familiar to you if you stick to conventional passenger cars but for those who need more space and practicality, Hyundai’s people and goods carriers have earned for themselves no fewer than 13 312 sales in South Africa since the launch of the Bus and Panel Van in 2009. They were joined in 2012 by the Multicab – a six-seater with enclosed load area – and right now, all have become beneficiaries of a makeover.
A launch event, held in the Western Cape, saw us taking to the wheel of the 9-seater 2.5 VGTI (turbo) diesel bus which carried us for some 190 km into the teeth of a fearsome gale, but before I get carried away, allow me to fill you in on the tweeks which have made the H1 more hospitable.
Most obvious is a re-shaped front bumper and grille, the latter now with body-colour horizontal inserts, together with new 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside, the centre info stack and surrounding air vents have been cleaned up and endowed with a more premium look together with restful blue illumination.
In terms of convenience items, the diesel bus version also gets a leather-bound steering wheel, a folding key fob, Bluetooth connectivity, fully auto air con with glove box cooling, cruise control, ESP, side airbag, electric folding mirror and window jam protection.
The 2.4 petrol bus acquires the new alloys, leather steering wheel, key fob, Bluetooth and glovebox cooling while the Multicab a/t diesel comes with new alloys, cruise control, folding key fob and Bluetooth. The more utilitarian Panel Van receives cruise control and the folding key fob.
As mentioned, our test unit was the smart 9-seater Bus with 5-speed auto box. With 125kW on tap from just 3 800 rpm and no less than 441Nm of torque arriving at 2 000 rpm, the H1 provides effortless pull and easily keeps up with fast-moving traffic if a bit of pace is required.
Indeed, maintaining 120 plus clicks on undulating roads, admittedly with no real load on board, was no trouble at all with mechanical thrash nicely isolated and road roar at a lower level than you might expect from such a commodious cabin. Wind noise was evident, mainly around the large mirrors, but given the gale we fought through, this disturbance was excusable.
Power steering takes away all the effort and much of the road feel and responses are not of the lightning–quick type and nor would you expect them to be in a vehicle of this configuration.
The real point is that the H1 Bus drives well and would be no hardship at all over big distances thanks to a softish ride and effective air con, not to mention the comfortable front seating – for two plus one – and very spacious rear quarters which nonetheless will still involve a compromise between people and luggage.
In summary, the H1 offers a very good value proposition considering the comfortable, rather than plush, passenger quarters and the undeniably high equipment levels.
Subsequent to preparing this article, ADI Zimbabwe has confirmed that the facelifted 9-seater H1 Bus is available as a 2.5D with auto gearbox and as a 2.4 manual petrol. Revised duties have made the Multivan and Panelvan sub-economic.
Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette