Hyundai H1

There is something perversely cool about the Hyundai H1. First off it is a bus. A 9 seater bus. That is with all the cliches and connotations of being in a bus. Until you get in. The interior is kind of cool somehow. With perforated leather that was last seen in a mid 80's Mercedes Benz, it feels kind of elegant in a retro sort of way.

This is one big spacious car. Seating 9 with a fair amount of boot space left over, it feels well designed and thought out. Not without some character building quirks mind you. It isn't quite as upmarket as the Merc Vito. It isn't quite as clever as the VW Caravelle. It is way more practical than either and quite a bit better value for money. Designed as a bus from the get go, passenger comfort works with good supplementary ventilation and controls. Configurable seating in the second and third rows. Access is easy with sliding doors both sides. Although it is big like a bus and certainly reverses when parallel parking like a bus, even with the assistance of rear park distance control fitted standard, you will still find yourself looking for more convenient parking bays. It doesn't drive like a bus. Car like, beyond the aforementioned parking considerations and the bus like seating position, a position welcomed by every South African dumping the convenience of the car for the hassle, impracticality and unwieldiness of the raised seating position of the 4x4. Road holding and ride are excellent considering its size.

Fancy LED running lights, six speed gearboxes and alloy wheels are de rigueur at this level. For R185 995 we expect a lot from a car. To this they throw in a 5 year/ 100 000 Km warranty and a 4 year / 90 000 Km service plan. As an aside, it is worth noting the 90,000 service plans now advertised, not 100,000, and this is because of our new consumer act, which has you having to give that which you offer. These cars are serviced at 90, and again at 105, so 100 cannot be offered. Nice clarity that, don't you think?

In the diesel anyway, you won’t struggle to keep up with the traffic or to lose points on your license. On paper the petrol and diesel compare well. Similar engine capacities, similar fuel consumption,126Kw for the petrol and 120 for the oil burner. Identical top speeds of 182km/h. The 0-100 times start to reveal some small differences, 16.5 vs 14.5 for the diesel. The petrol is about R65k cheaper. You start to think, hmm save money and be done with it. Then you look at the torque figures, 224 at 4200 for the petrol and 392 at only 2000 for the one that goes to the smelly pump. That in itself is probably meaningless to many of you so some perspective. While they have similar acceleration times 0- 100, the manual petrol will get you from 60-100 in a very leisurely 18.1 seconds. Around about the same time it takes to write a short story. The diesel on the other hand does it in a respectable 8.5. Dramatic that. Don't even consider buying the petrol. Unless, like me, you are behind on your writing and unlike me, able to multitask in traffic.

Again, like most Hyundai's until recently, no RDS for the otherwise good auxiliary in Radio/CD. Keyless entry and auto off headlights, but no trip computer or climate control, although the air con system works well. Lots of little stowage areas as expected and if you aren't American, sufficient cup holders. For a people carrier designed around the hospitality industry and big families, curiously it doesn't have isofix points for the new type baby seats. It does have driver and passenger airbags and an excellent 5 year/150,000km warranty and 100,000km service plan. Oh, and it trounces the new taxis at the robot drag. Consider their forthcoming panel van though with two rows of seats and a glass and steel enclosed cargo area that is cavernous. All the convenience of a double cab, without your stuff getting stolen out the back at traffic lights and a noise and rattle free trip due to the excellent sound isolation from the cargo area.