Road Review – Hyundai H1 Bus

Many, many years ago in my relative infancy as a motoring scribe a colleague and I – perhaps after a longer than normal lunch – conspired to come up with what we fondly imagined was a shriekingly funny headline for a story; ‘Forget about us, we’re on the bus’.

It wasn’t, it isn’t and yet, in that rather bizarre way in which this world of our operates, it is aptly descriptive of the time spent with the new look Hyundai H1 Bus.

It took no time at all behind the wheel to forget I was driving a bus and to start treating it like a car, albeit one with rather enhanced forward vision – the big reminder always the step up to get into the vehicle.

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There is both good and bad in that – the good being as a people mover, the ease of driving makes light work of the fact it is a big vehicle and the bad; well, it really is not designed to be ‘Vetteled’ at speed like a race car on twisty roads.

Not that it actually minds, coming fully equipped with anti-lock braking and a stability control system to temper over enthusiasm back to more reasonable limits.

The new look for the H1 Bus is dominated by redesigned nose section, giving the 9-seater bus (and its panel van sibling) a modern look that fits in with the styling of the passenger car and SUV range of the Korean manufacturer.

New 17-inch alloy wheels are added to the 2,5-litre turbo-diesel derivative on test, while the addition of an infotainment centre with a large touch-screen enhances the list of interior luxury and comfort features in both 9-seater derivatives.

A steering wheel that can now adjust for reach as well as height makes the driving position in the H1 even more comfortable and a rear camera as parking assistance, with display in the rear-view mirror, is a luxury feature in the 2.5 Turbodiesel Bus – and is extremely useful for shuttling around tight spaces considering it is 5,1 metres long!

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Night driving is now improved with the addition of projection-style headlights that illuminate the road ahead and to the side more effectively.

Other standard features include Bluetooth connectivity for the infotainment’s sound system with multifunction controls on the steering wheel, cruise control, full automatic air-conditioner with climate control, glove box cooling, side air bags and power folding mirrors.

The 2 497 cc turbo-charged diesel engine delivers 125 kW maximum power at 3 600 r/min and 441 Nm maximum torque at 2 250 r/min driving the rear wheels through a 5-speed automatic gearbox.

Those values are more than enough to negate any noticeable losses when the vehicle is fully laden with adult passengers and the benefit of the turbo at higher altitudes will also minimise any power losses.

It is no slouch and more than happy to ‘get-up-and-go’ when the loud pedal is pressed. In normal driving both in town and on the open road the gearbox is smooth and efficient in adapting to driver input and changing conditions – enough that most will not need to switch it into the sportier manual mode.

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Rack and pinion steering ensures crisp responses while hydraulic assistance reduces the effort required in tight situations. The H1 Bus is easy to park and along with the generous glass area and substantial mirrors, there is the park-assist rear-view camera.

The H1 series is equipped with McPherson type strut with gas shock absorbers for its front suspension and for the H1 9-seater Bus a rigid axle 5-link rear suspension with oil-filled shock absorbers ensures a comfortable ride.

Pricing includes Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty, with an additional 2 years/50 000 km manufacturer’s powertrain warranty, as well as a 5 year/150 000 km roadside assistance plan and 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

So, forget about us, we’re on the bus!

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Road Impressions – Hyundai Grand i10

A sort of insider joke among a group of us regularly exposed to high quality wines but a long way from fluent in the art of winespeak, is to refer to whatever we are offered as “a brave little wine” – amazingly, often getting a nod of approval from the winespeakers, as if we were truly kindred spirits.

Having had the opportunity to drive both the Hyundai Grand i10 1.2 and 1.0 versions back to back, I thought it fitting to put them together in this road impressions – not as a direct comparison, but more as view from either end of the scale.

In that, the 1.0 emerges as a “brave little car” and, for me, was the more fun to drive of the two.

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However, to backtrack a little.

Hyundai rejuvenated its Grand i10 range in South Africa with new features and added a new entry derivative to give this popular entry-level model a fresh appeal in the local automotive market earlier this year.

The Grand i10 hatchback, which is the smallest new car in the local Hyundai range, has taken over the role of entry-level model after the i10 was discontinued.

“We had a relook at the Grand i10 range, change the specification levels and added a new entry derivative with a 1,0-litre engine and the Motion specification level. The end result is a hatchback model with a variety of derivatives that offer exceptional value,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.

The revised line-up of this smallest hatchback in the Hyundai range consists of six derivatives –three powered by the new 1,0-litre 3-cylinder engine delivering 48 kW at 5 500 r/min and 94 Nm maximum torque at 3 500 r/min and the other three using the 1,25-litre 4-cylinder engine, which delivers 64 kW at 6 000 r/min. and 120 Nm maximum torque at 4 000 r/min.

A passenger air bag was now been added in all the derivatives to the driver’s air bag and steering wheel remote controls, including buttons for the Bluetooth connectivity for cell-phones and an integrated microphone also form part of the upgraded features across the range.

The Grand i10 Fluid and Glide derivatives have electrically heated side mirrors that can also fold in at the touch of a button and an ‘infotainment’ centre with a large full-colour touch-screen where.

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The body shell of the Grand i10 produces one of the roomiest occupant cabins on the market, as well as an impressive 256 litres of trunk capacity. Up to 1 202 litres become available when the rear seats are folded.

The Grand i10 incorporates the hexagonal grille, the signature front end for Hyundai Motor’s cars, which clearly showing its family DNA and providing a link to its larger siblings. Grand i10 Fluid and Glide derivatives boast a chrome grille in front, as well as alloy wheels. The Motion derivatives are equipped with steel wheels with a wheel cover.

Colour-coded door handles and side-mirrors, with turn indicators built into them, combine with the attractive alloy wheels (in the Fluid and Glide specification levels) to create a very good-looking small hatchback.

Interior styling and trim differs from black cloth for the Motion and Fluid derivatives, to black leather and red cloth for the Grand i10 Glide. The Glide also sports red inserts on the instrument and door panels, as well as the centre console.

All Grand i10 derivatives are also equipped with a full-size spare wheel, height adjustment for the driver’s seat, and remote controls for the sound system and driver’s information on the steering wheel.

With that as the backstory, why do I say the 1,0-litre is more fun to drive?

Many of us love to root for the underdog in any form of competition and the 1.0 is certainly the underdog in this fight – but makes up for its lower performance by the same kind of willingness that powered ‘The Little Engine that Could’.

Both variants are intended in life as city commuters or short-haul runabouts and, while they would both make the distance, are not ideally suited as open road tourers.

So, neither of them accelerates like a Ferrari, goes as fast as a Ferrari or corners like a Ferrari. Keeping it all in context, they both move energetically off the line and are happy to be revved to the max going up through the gears.

It is also true both (especially the 1.0) require a downshift or two to keep momentum up longer  hills, but with the slick action gearbox fitted, this is not an arduous task.

Interestingly, both the 1.0 Motion and 1.2 Glide are fitted with 5.5J x 14 rims and 165/65 R14 rubber – the alloy wheels on the 1.2 giving the impression of a large tyre footprint as well as taking the leads in terms of overall looks.

Misbehave into a corner, however, and the Grand i10 can bite back. The small footprint means it does not like sudden directional changes, but feed it gently into the bend and it will remain mostly neutral with, perhaps, a little initial understeer.

Where the 1.2 has that much more left in reserve for overtaking, the 1.0 requires a little more planning and it is ‘achievement’ that makes it fun to play with around town and the R53 000 difference in price between the two adds to the appeal of the commuter.

In real terms, when it comes to motoring essentials, the 1.0 loses nothing to the 1.2, the latter simply more luxurious and fettled with more features.

The Grand i10’s 1,25-litre engine belongs to Hyundai Motor’s popular ‘Kappa’ engine family and incorporates a range of features that raise power and torque, and enhance smoothness and driveability.

The 1 248 cc engine delivers 64 kW peak power at 6 000 r/min, and reaches its maximum torque delivery of 120 Nm at 4 000 r/min. Fuel consumption can be as low as 5,9 l/100 km, while the fuel-consumption of the 1,0-litre engine is 5,4 l/100 km for the manual gearbox derivatives.

Up front is a McPherson strut suspension while, at the rear, a coupled torsion beam suspension ensures comfortable driving with a stable and firm grip on the road.

The ‘Yin and Yang’ of the Hyundai i10 range occupy important places in a crowded – and very competitive – market segment, providing high levels of specification for a car under the R150 000 mark and competitive levels of luxury at the other end of the range.

 

Elantra gets some zest

Having just had a drive, albeit brief, in the all-new Hyundai Elantra Sport, it seems incongruous the company has taken several iterations of the nameplate to come up with a derivative that is a zesty challenge to some other ‘hot’ cars on the market.

To be fair. My first encounter with Hyundai came way back in the Billy Rautenbach days and a visit to Seoul to gain insight to the, then, fledgling company just beginning to dip into export markets that revealed a very clear five, 10 and 20 year plan committed to gaining market share and recognition.

Sporty performance was simply not a requirement.

Even the ill-fated Daewoo answered the call locally from a performance and motor sport driven country when it entered, and, won the Castrol Rally – such a turn up it surprised everyone including, possibly, overall winner Sarel van der Merwe who thanked Hyundai in his speech.

A slip of the tongue or wishful thinking – we will never know. However, Hyundai has made the leap and is successfully campaigning in the World Rally Championship.

So, to the new Elantra Sport. Well, new Elantra, since the entire range has been significantly updated with a completely new look and underpinnings.

The 2017 Elantra enters the South African market in four derivatives: The Elantra 1.6 Executive manual and Elantra 1.6 Executive automatic (both driven by a 1,6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine); the Elantra 2.0 Elite, with a naturally aspirated 2,0-litre petrol engine and the range-topping Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport, with a 1,6-litre turbo-charged petrol engine.

Both specification levels – Executive and Elite – offer comprehensive features, which are all included in the recommended retail prices, starting at R299 900 and ending at R399 900 for the Elantra Sport with several special design, trim and technical characteristics.

“First-time drivers of the new Elantra will be pleasantly surprised to see standard features such as an 8-inch hi-resolution infotainment system, rear park assist, six air bags, Isofix latching points for child seats, cruise control and alloy wheels on all the derivatives,” says Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive South Africa.

“We are confident we are bringing a very attractive and well-rounded package to an important segment in our market. The new Elantra will again fill an important slot in our model line-up for car buyers who are looking for a bigger or a family sedan.”

 Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille gives the Elantra a strong presence from the front, with automatic projection headlamps including LED Daytime Running lights as part of the cluster. The Elantra’s sporty lower front fascia integrates functional front wheel air curtains that help manage air flow from the front of the vehicle and around the wheels to minimize turbulence and wind resistance.

In addition, underbody covers, an aerodynamic rear bumper bottom spoiler and rear deck lid designed with an expanded trunk edge contribute to the Elantra’s 0,27 coefficient of drag.

Model-exclusive front and rear fascias give the Sport crucial visual differentiation from the rest of the Elantra lineup.

The rear light cluster of the new Elantra with its bright LED display is also distinctive of the Hyundai range. For the Elantra Sport, a different bottom half of the rear bumper reiterates its sporty nature, with a unique skid plate and visible chrome-plated dual exhaust pipes.

The Executive derivatives are kitted with 16-inch alloy wheels, whereas the Elite trim level get 17-inch alloy wheels.

All four derivatives’ gain leather seats with model-specific interior appointments such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel, red sport seats and red contrast stitching for the Sport.

The standard 8-inch infotainment system, which includes satellite navigation, provides a USB Mirror Link for Android cell phones, HDMI connectivity for iPhones to view the iPhone screen on the head unit, hands-free Bluetooth telephone link with remote controls on the steering wheel, Bluetooth music streaming and AUX and USB input ports. It also features a CD player.

Electrically operated side mirrors and windows, cruise control and rear park assist are also standard convenience features across the range. The Elite derivatives have an automatic air-conditioner, rain sensors for the windscreen wipers, and a smart key push-button to start the engine.

 The new Elantra is available with three petrol engines: A 1 591 cm3 four-cylinder engine that produces 94 kW at 6 300 r/min and 154 Nm at 4 850 r/min in the Elantra 1.6 Executive manual and 1.6 Executive Elite automatic.

Then there is the 1 999 cm3 Nu MPI Atkinson four-cylinder engine producing a peak 115 kW at 6 200 r/min and 195 Nm of torque at 4 500 r/min in the Elantra 2.0 Elite automatic and the turbo-charged 1 591 cm3 four-cylinder engine in the Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT Sport producing 150 kW at 6 000 r/min and 265 Nm torque from 1 500 r/min to 4 500 r/min.

The Elantra 1.6 Executive comes with a choice between a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the Elantra 2.0 Elite is available only with a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

The Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite Sport has a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission with paddle shifters, and the driver can choose between a Normal, Eco or Sport driving mode with the press of a button.

Fuel economy ranges from 6,5 l/100 km (manual) and 6,9 l/100 km (auto) in the two Executive derivatives, to 8,3 l/100 km and 7,9 l/100 km in the Elantra 2.0 Elite auto and the Elantra 1.6 TGDI DCT Sport respectively.

The 2017 Elantra is lighter than the outgoing model and its rigid chassis is now reinforced with 53% advanced high-strength steel, providing improved stiffness at a lower body weight. This increased usage results in a 29,5% stiffer torsional rigidity and 25,3% greater bending strength, which bring improvements in vehicle ride and handling, quietness, durability and driving performance.

Improved ride comfort, handling and stability are achieved through Elantra’s redesigned rear suspension geometry that modifies the angle of the rear shock absorbers and changed the position of the coil springs on the coupled torsion beam axle. Additionally, an increase in rear bushing diameter helps to improve long term durability.

In the Elantra Sport an exclusive rear multi-link independent suspension helps deliver outstanding dynamics.

The Elantra’s front suspension uses a McPherson strut with coil springs and gas shock absorbers along with a front stabiliser bar to help reduce body roll when cornering.

An anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) is standard on all derivatives for active safety, with the addition of an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) in the Elantra Sport.

Passive safety is taken care of by driver, front passenger, side and curtain air bags in all the derivatives.

Pricing

The recommended retail prices of the new Elantra range are:

  • Elantra 1.6 Executive (manual)      R299 900
  • Elantra 1.6 Executive (auto)  R314 900
  • Elantra 2.0 Elite (auto)            R349 900
  • Elantra 1.6 TGDI Elite DCT    R399 900

Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty and additional 2-year/500 powertrain warranty is part of the standard package, which also includes 5-year/150 000 km roadside assistance and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

Service intervals are 15 000 km for all derivatives, with an additional initial service after 5 000 km for the Elantra Sport.

New thinking, really!

SEOUL, Korea– Hyundai is changing. Actually, the change is well under way. Moving from a new automaker bent on building sales in export markets, Hyundai has evolved its thinking to being qualitative rather than quantitative and is no longer chasing a goal of being the biggest car maker in the world – just the best loved.

Enshrined within its current ‘tag line’ of ‘New Thinking. New Possibilities.’ is a broad spectrum of directional shifts not limited only to the cars being produced by the company, but also to the way in which the cars are being manufactured.

As the only motor manufacturer in the world with its own steel plant, the changes – much linked to ensuring environmental concerns are met – are evident in the costly, but effective fully enclosed raw material preparation facilities where the iron ore (10% of which is imported from South Africa) is processed before going to the furnace. Enclosed in massive geodesic domes, the pollution from dust is drastically reduced during the crushing process.

The steel factory also recycles all water, generates its own electricity and has its own sewage plant, converting human waste into industrial use water for the cooling processes as thousands of tons of iron ore is converted into the rolled and sheet steel gobbled up by the manufacturing plants within Korea at Ulsan, Asan and Jeonju.

As a point of reference – the Ulsan plant is the largest single auto plant in the world and produced 1,5-million cars last year.

Total investment in the plant came to $9,48-billion and the new blast furnace due to come on line shortly will increase total steel production from all centres (Dangjin, Pohung and Incheon) to 24-million tons a year.

“We work ceaselessly for customer satisfaction and will open new roads with new initiatives. Hyundai Motor Company will stand at the forefront of the global motor industry,” says Chairman and CEO Chung Mong-Koo.

“New ideas create new values. We will respond to the fast-changing international management environment by constructing a system for organic cooperation between production factory and sales headquarters in each country worldwide, strengthening quality management and expanding research and development in eco-friendly vehicles.”

Hyundai Motor Company was established in 1967 and a year later signed a licensing agreement for the CKD assembly of the Ford Cortina. In 1974 the Turin Motor Show hosted the launch of the Pony, Hyundai’s first proprietary car. In 1986 it entered the US market with the Excel and launched the first generation Grandeur (Azera) in Korea, followed by Sonata two years later.

The company’s first in-house engine was launched in 1991 and the same year it developed the electric Sonata. In 1996 the Asan plant came on stream, the Tiburon was launched and in 1998 it acquired Kia Motors leading to the formation of Hyundai Motor Group in 2000. In 2002 the Irvine, USA, design and technical centre opened followed in 2003 by one in Russelsheim, Germany. In 2008 the Tau engine was launched along with the Genesis, a second plant in India and in 2010 it achieved more than 5% of global market share.

A new plant is under construction in Brazil and, while consideration for a South African facility is not on the cards, it certainly is not off the list of future possibilities. Hyundai in South Africa is distributed by Hyundai South Africa, part of the AMH Group, but Hyundai has distributor agreements in all African countries with a small SKD plant in Egypt.

Hyundai’s growing spread of vehicle offerings from passenger cars through SUV, MPV and commercials (including its own specialist luxury brand, Equus) face tough competition in a world gripped by eco-fever where more for less is paramount, safety and low emissions absolutes.
Hyundai has established R&D centres at various places around the world, but this does not stop the ongoing work at Namyang, which features a 70-kilometre test track, 34 types of road and 71 different road surfaces from undertaking extensive new product development, engine design and safety testing.

The Namyang facility includes a complete production facility where vehicles can be built from scratch, tested and sometimes destroyed in the massive crash test facility where I witnessed a brand new Azera take on a 50 km/h side-impact.

On site is a huge wind tunnel along with rain/snow/heat chambers, acoustic testing and electronic interference testing and laboratories for the development of new in-car systems, infotainment and safety items.

Part of this includes development of hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles – some of which Hyundai has already released into world markets with the infrastructure capable of sustaining them and, should South Africa move towards making recharging facilities available, it would also become a consideration for Hyundai South Africa.

“South Africa is an important market for Hyundai even though it currently accounts for only around 1% of our global sales,” says William Lee, Executive Vice-President of Overseas Sales. “We see the market in South Africa growing and Hyundai wants to be a big part of that.”

For South Africa, managing director Alan Ross is confident Hyundai can increase its footprint during 2012 providing world demand (and Hyundai is expecting to sell more than 4-million units this year) does not limit stock availability to our market.

“There were some stock issues last year and we could certainly have sold more,” he says.