Top racers confirmed

Eighteen of the world’s top rallycross drivers and nine different marques will be making the trip to Cape Town for the start of the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney Raceway on November 24/25.

press_2018_11_GER_ATMOSPHERE_(308)+(1)

Kids under 12 are free, and there is loads of off-track entertainment, such as the majestic Silver Falcons Air Show and the Monster Energy Rig.

Current World Champion Johan Kristoffersson, who drives a factory-developed Volkswagen Polo Supercar for Team PSRX Volkswagen, tops the entry list. The Swede currently tops the 2018 Championship Leaderboard, intent on defending his 2017 title.

Compatriots Robin Larsson of Olsbergs MSE, Mattias Ekström of EKS Audi Sport, Timmy Hansen of Team Peugeot Total and his brother Kevin of Team Peugeot-Hansen are also in the mix, ensuring Sweden maintains a strong presence on the Cape track.

French legend Sebastien Loeb of Team Peugeot Total is the world’s most successful rally driver and will be looking to add to the six podiums he took in 2017, but he will have stiff competition at Killarney from Latvian champion Janis Baumanis of Team Stard and the highly experienced Russian Timur Timerzyanov of the GRX Taneco Team. All three are currently neck-and-neck in this year’s top 10.

press_2018_11_GER_KRISTOFFERSSON_(209)

Kristoffersson’s racing partner, Norwegian Petter Solberg will also be here, as will fellow countryman Andreas Bakkerud of EKS Audi Sport and the rising young Finn Niclas Grönholm of GRX Taneco Team.

Making up the rest of the pack are GC Kompetition drivers Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund, ALL-INKL.COM Munnich 77 drivers Timo Schedier and Rene Munnich, Gregoire Demoustier of Sebastien Loeb Racing, Oliver Bennett of Oliver Bennett and Kevin Eriksson of Olsbergs MSE.

press_2018_11_GER_KHANSEN_(201)+(2)

On Thursday, November 22 the World Rallycross Parade makes its way from the back of the Table Bay Hotel to the Amphitheatre at the V&A Waterfront where drivers, including Kristoffersson, Loeb and Solberg, will be signing autographs at a special meet and greet.
Official Drivers Entry List
# Driver                           Nat   Car                                                     Competitor                  Nat
1 Johan Kristoffersson SWE VW Polo R PSRX                               Volkswagen Sweden SWE
4 Robin Larsson            SWE Ford Fiesta                                         Olsbergs MSE             SWE
5 Mattias Ekstrom         SWE Audi S1 EKS RX quattro                  EKS Audi Sport           SWE
6 Janis Baumanis          LAT Ford Fiesta                                          Team Stard                  AUT
7 Timur Timerzyanov RUS Hyundai i20 GRX                                Taneco Team               FIN
9 Sebastien Loeb           FRA Peugeot 208 WRX                               Team Peugeot Total  FRA
11 Petter Solberg          NOR VW Polo R PSRX                                 Volkswagen Sweden SWE
13 Andreas Bakkerud NOR Audi S1 EKS RX quattro                     EKS Audi Sport          SWE
21 Timmy Hansen       SWE Peugeot 208 WRX                                Team Peugeot Total  FRA
36 Guerlain Chicherit FRA Renault Megane RS                              GC Kompetition         FRA
42 Oliver Bennett        GBR Mini Cooper                                           Oliver Bennett          GBR
44 Timo Schedier         DEU Seat Ibiza                                              ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport                                                                                                                                  DEU
66 Gregoire Demoustier BEL Peugeot 208                                   Sebastien Loeb Racing FRA
68 Niclas Gronholm    FIN Hyundai i20 GRX                                 Taneco Team               FIN
71 Kevin Hansen         SWE Peugeot 208 WRX                              Team Peugeot-Hansen SWE
77 Rene Munnich         DEU Seat Ibiza                                             ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport                                                                                                                                  DEU
92 Anton Marklund  SWE Renault Megane RS                                        GC Kompetition FRA
96 Kevin Eriksson     SWE Ford Fiesta                                                Olsbergs MSE          SWE

Advertisements

Hardbody is zero rated

The venerable Nissan Hardbody workhorse bakkie has been given a straight red card by Global NCAP after scoring zero in the latest round of South African testing in conjunction with the Automobile Association (AASA).

Nissan NP300

The four models tested showed a wide range of safety performance, from zero to three stars for adult protection with the Nissan NP300 ‘Hardbody’ scoring the lowest ratings, which result in a high probability of life threatening injury in a crash.

The models tested were: Nissan NP300 Hardbody, Hyundai i20, Kia Picanto and Toyota Yaris. Global NCAP chose the entry-level version of each model and all were fitted with at least one air bag as standard. The results highlight significant differences in the structural integrity of the vehicles tested.

Collins Khumalo, CEO of the AA of South Africa says: “Of concern with these results is the most expensive vehicle tested in this round – the Nissan NP300 Hardbody – produced the lowest score of all tests completed to date, achieving a 00,00 score and zero stars. There should be no zero rated vehicles on our roads.

“What these results show is three vehicles priced lower than the Nissan produced three-star ratings for adult occupancy indicating safety does not have to be tied to price. They also emphasise cars may not be what they seem based purely on looks and descriptions and, until many more vehicles are tested, this issue may be a much bigger problem throughout Africa than we originally believed.”

David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP added: “A trio of three star results are acceptable but the zero star Nissan NP300 is shockingly bad.

“It is astonishing a global company such as Nissan can produce a car today as poorly engineered as this. The NP300 ‘Hardbody’ is ridiculously misnamed as its body shell collapsed. Nissan also claim the car benefits from a so called ‘safety shield’ but this is grossly misleading. Our test shows the occupant compartment completely fails to absorb the energy of the crash resulting in a high risk of fatality or serious injury. “

Nissan NP300 ‘Hardbody’

The NP300 ‘Hardbody’ achieved an alarming zero star rating for its poor adult occupant protection mainly in the driver head and chest areas in the frontal crash test at 64 km/h. The vehicle structure collapsed during the crash test and it was rated as unstable.

The steering wheel column did not collapse penetrating the passengers’ compartment, creating an additional risk for the driver as it moved straight into the dummy chest. This performance showed a significant risk of injuries for the driver despite the car being equipped with double frontal air bags.

The high probability of life threatening injuries to the driver’s head and chest resulted in the zero star adult occupant protection rating. Even with an air bag the driver’s head and chest showed high biomechanical readings.

The NP300 ‘Hardbody’ achieved two stars for child occupant protection, the low result is mainly explained by the decision of the car manufacturer to install one of the Child seats without following Child seat manufacturer instructions.

Toyota Yaris

The Yaris achieved a three star rating for adult occupant protection in the frontal crash test at 64 km/h. The vehicle structure was rated as unstable and offered marginal to good general adult occupant protection.

The car provides seat belt reminders for both frontal positions. The car included seatbelts with pretensioners for both front passengers. Using the child seats recommended by Toyota, the Yaris achieved a three star rating for child occupant protection.

Toyota Yaris

Hyundai i20

The i20 achieved a three star rating for adult occupant protection in the frontal crash test at 64 km/h. The vehicle structure was rated as unstable as well as the footwell area. The protection levels ranged from marginal to good in adult occupant protection. The car offers seatbelt pretensioners for both front passengers and seatbelt reminder for the driver.

Using the child seats recommended by Hyundai, the i20 achieved a two star rating for child occupant protection explained by the limited protection offered to the 3-years old dummy and lack of ISOFIX anchorages.

The i20 structure is different to that of the European model. Safety equipment in South Africa does not offer Electronic Stability Control (ESC), side body air bags and side curtain air bags, which are standard in Europe.

Hyundai i20

Kia Picanto

The Picanto achieved a three star rating for adult occupant protection in the frontal crash test at 64 km/h. The vehicle structure was rated as stable while the footwell area was rated as unstable.

The car offers seatbelt pretensioners for both front passengers and seat belt reminder for the driver only. Using the child seats recommended by Kia the Picanto achieved a two star rating for child protection.

The detachment of the ISOFIX anchorages for the 3-years old CRS during the test explains the low score for child occupant protection. The manufacturer did not yet offer an explanation to this problem, but the child seat manufacturer which is also investigating, took immediate action and removed the Picanto from their recommended list of cars for this CRS model.

Kia Picanto

Global NCAP awards a separate child safety rating to each car in order to highlight the different levels of protection vehicles provide to passengers on the rear seats. Because the only safe way for young children to travel is properly restrained in a child seat, the assessment checks how compatible the car is with the child seats recommended by the manufacturer, as well as the protection provided in the crash test. Airbags are not a substitute for seatbelts, passengers must always wear seatbelts.

Only the Yaris and Picanto offered standard ISOFIX anchorages for child restraint systems (CRS). The NP300 Hardbody showed incompatibilities with the recommended CRS. Only the Yaris offered three-point seatbelt for all passengers facilitating the required conditions to safely install a child seat in all seating positions, while all the others offered a lap belt in the middle position which makes it impossible to properly install a CRS.

Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation says: “The #SaferCarsForAfrica campaign introduces essential transparency to the South African car market, and these results show consumers are still getting a raw deal. The ironically-named ‘Hardbody’ is the worst of the bunch, but all these car makers should be doing better, and offering the same high standard of safety in South Africa, and across the African continent, as they do in Europe and the US.”

Results

Kona brings new crossover options

Hyundai South Africa has taken a gamble in launching the crossover Kona to compete alongside the Tucson and, to an extent, the Creta – where other markets have selected only the former or the Tucson.

Stanley Anderson, sales and operations director of Hyundai Automotive SA, acknowledges it is a calculated plan but believes the Kona will complement, rather than take away from, the Tucson range adding: “We see the Kona buyer as a completely different person to the Tucson buyer.”

kona_ext_front_05_880x500

Hyundai’s new crossover model is launched in the local market with derivatives sporting a high specification level and a choice between two engines – including a perky 3-cylinder turbo-charged petrol power source that, based on general comments from journalists at the launch is the engine of choice.

“The Kona is an important milestone in Hyundai Motor’s journey. The quality of the exterior and interior design and the fit and trim level in the cabin bears testimony of the status that Hyundai has achieved as one of the top automotive brands in the world,” says Anderson.

“We are launching the Kona with a 2,0-litre naturally aspirated engine and the new 1,0-litre, 3-cylinder turbo engine that is frugal, yet powerful enough to make a drive in the Kona an exciting experience. The whole package is exciting and modern and represents our brand with pride.”

kona_ext_front_02_880x500

The Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive (manual) enters the local market at a launch price of R379 900, while its sibling, the Kona 2.0 NU Executive (automatic), comes with a price ticket of R399 900.

Both models are front-wheel driven. The 1,0-litre turbo-engine delivers its power via a 6-speed manual gearbox, while the 2,0-litre naturally aspirated version uses a six-speed automatic gearbox with the option of manual shift.

The exterior design boasts muscular sculpted shapes, sleek LED lighting and one-of-a-kind details that highlight the DNA borrowed from its SUV siblings.

A striking design feature of the Kona is its twin headlight design with LED Daytime Running Lights that create an unmistakable front signature, while 17-inch alloy wheels, standard on both derivatives, further contribute to the bold character of the car.

Daniel Kim, a senior designer at Hyundai America’s Design & Engineering Centre in Irvine, California, who was in charge of exterior design during the development of the Kona, summarises their approach to the car’s design: “The basic thinking was to give the all-new Kona slim, modern and high-tech daytime running lamps.

“This was a priority as it is one of the main things people notice all the time, whether it’s during the day or at night, which makes it appealing and visible. We took this opportunity to create something unique by having a main projection lamp integrated with fender cladding. Overall, this gives it a protective, but tough and modern aspect.”

kona_ext_rear_04_880x500

The interior of the Kona come with two distinctive colour themes: Lime, for the Acid Yellow exterior colour; and Red, for the other four exterior colours. The interior colour accents are featured on the air vent surrounds, around the gearshift, the engine start button ring, the stitching on the seats and the steering wheel.

Kevin Kang, creative manager of interior design at Hyundai America’s Design & Engineering Centre in California who was in charge of interior design during the development of the Kona, says: “My main personal highlight of the all-new Kona is the bold character line that hugs around the outside vents, which gives the interior a wide and engaging feel. This is complemented by a balance of smooth, contoured surfaces and high-contrast elements that create a rather unique character.”

kona_aircon_controls_01_880x500

The floating screen of the 7-inch navigation touchscreen in its ergonomic position allows drivers to stay tuned to the traffic ahead at all times. The infotainment system, with its excellent sound from four speakers and two tweeters, integrates navigation, media and connectivity features, and the Display Audio allows passengers to mirror their smartphone’s content onto the system’s 7-inch display via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

kona_rear_armrest_880x500

The Kona offers plenty of space for both passengers and luggage. The front-seat legroom, measuring 1 054 mm, and 880 mm for passengers in the rear, are both generous. With a trunk capacity of 361 litres (VDA) that can be increased by removing the hidden storage tray, the Kona is optimal for weekend escapes and longer trips. When large objects are transported, the 60:40 split rear seat back rest creates the necessary space.

The all-new Kona comes with air-conditioning, rear passengers’ arm rest with cup holders, and the 7-inch infotainment system that links to CarPlay on Apple iPhones or Android Auto on Android cell phones. Remote control buttons on the height and reach-adjustable steering wheel enables the driver to operate the speed cruise control, answer phone calls, toggle the onboard computer’s information screens and change radio stations or mute the sound system.

The Kona’s Kappa 1,0-litre T-GDI 3-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine provides 88 kW at 6 000 r/min and 172 Nm maximum torque between 1 500 r/min and 4 000 r/min. It is a perky 998 cc engine that gets its boost from a turbo-charger equipped with an electronically controlled waste-gate actuator, which improves fuel efficiency by reducing pumping losses as well as improving throttle response and low-end torque.

The unit features a six-hole GDI injector, pressured to a higher-than-average 200 bar, securing a clean combustion.

Power goes to the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. The maximum speed of the Kona 1.0 TGDI is 181 km/h and fuel consumption, measured in a real-life combined cycle, can be as low as 6,8 l/100 km.

The Atkinson 2,0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine employed in the Kona 2.0 NU Executive delivers 110 kW at 6 200 r/min. and maximum torque of 180 Nm is reached at 4 500 r/min. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with a six-speed automatic gearbox, also delivering its power to the front wheels.

It can reach a maximum speed of 194 km/h and recorded fuel consumption of 7,2 l/100 km on a combined urban/open road test cycle.

kona_interior_red_theme_carplay_01_880x500

The active safety features include an anti-lock braking, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Downhill Brake Control, Blind-Spot Collision Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning.

Passive safety features include driver and front passenger air bags, complemented by curtain and side-impact air bags.

 Pricing

Kona 1.0 T-GDI Executive Manual – R379 900

Kona 2.0 NU Executive Automatic – R399 900

It includes a 7 years/200 000 km manufacturers’ warranty (comprising the 5 years/150 000 km warranty with a 2 years/50 000 km drivetrain warranty); a 5 year/90 000 km service plan; and 5 years/150 000 km roadside assistance.

 

Road Review – Hyundai Creta 1.6 Executive Turbo-diesel

With the exams looming, I was having difficulty making our English setwork ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding mean any more than a silly story about a bunch of guys marooned on an island who wanted to beat each other up.

Then, my teacher of the time, the late, great David Brindley, gave me a copy of the thesis he had written on the book for his Honours degree in which he managed to show the island was actually shaped like a ship and all sorts of other things that made it a lot more than just a silly story about kids wanting to whale on each other.

So, I decided to try to find some level of symbolism or deep, hidden inner meaning as to why Hyundai would want to name a car after the island of Crete.

Other than the fact they are both small I found nothing – so this is not a dissertation, just a road review.

creta_fiery_red_front_01_880x500

Hyundai has never been scared of dipping its toe into new and – for it – uncharted waters. When it launched the Creta in 2017 as an option in the mid-size SUV market, it was an impressive package combining good levels of specification with reasonable power and handling.

Now, more than 8 000 unit sales later, the Creta has received an exterior makeover that comprises a new Hyundai trademark cascade grille with a chrome bezel, a new front bumper with dual-tone finish and skid plates, new fog lamps and LED Daylight Running Lights and a new set of roof rails with a lower profile.

The rear profile of the Creta has also been revised with slightly tweaked tail lamps with LED inserts, repositioned reflectors and a new rear skid plate. It also sports a new alloy wheel design.

creta_rear_01_880x500

Hyundai Automotive SA has kept the same derivative line-up, engine and gearbox choices and specification configuration for the Creta range.

All three Creta derivatives are sold with the Executive level of standard features, which includes leather seats, leather cladding for the steering wheel, multi-function remote controls for the Bluetooth telephone, sound and radio system, and an 8-inch touch-screen display for the infotainment system.

The infotainment system in the Creta also offers an optional satellite navigation feature, which has to be activated with a SD card at a cost of R2 522.

Convenience features in the Creta include air vents for the rear passengers, a rear armrest with cup holders, cruise control and rear park assist sensors and camera that displays its images on the screen of the infotainment system.

Of the three engine/gearbox combinations used in the Creta range, our test was on the range-topping Creta 1.6 Executive Turbo-diesel Automatic that uses a 1,6-litre turbo-charged diesel engine, together with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Maximum power delivery is 94 kW at 4 000 r/min, and its torque peak of 260 Nm is reached at 2 750 r/min. It has a claimed fuel consumption figure of 7,4 litres/100 km in a real world, combine test cycle and my own test cycle confirmed this figure.

The new Creta received no below the bonnet changes – if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it – and that is a good thing as, already mentioned, the original proved rather impressive.

What the revises mean in real terms is tweaking the desirability compared to its immediate opposition (such as the Toyota Rush) without compromising on the impressive levels of affordability both in terms of sticker price and in overall operating costs.

Given the continuing rise in popularity of the SUV as the preferred mode of travel, the intensity of competition in the small to medium segment of this market is growing by the day and the ‘arm-twister’ in terms of customers will be the affordability factor with fuel now topping the R17 a litre mark.

creta_interior_880x500

The Creta’s ride quality and road holding are achieved by a McPherson strut front suspension with gas dampers. An increased caster angle delivers a more stable, smoother high-speed travel.

At the rear, revised geometries of the dampers used with the coupled torsion beam axle have delivered an increase lever ratio that generates gentle understeer for better cornering performance.

That latter built-in factor serves well as a reminder to reign in driving enthusiasm long before talent runs out and there are limits beyond which it will not willingly go.

The diesel, with its low down torque works easily in traffic snarls and the gearbox shifts silently and swiftly to provide the best possible solution for the occasion – translating this on the open road to a hassle-free cruise with low levels of engine and other peripheral noises.

Seating more than plush enough for long hauls and the luggage deck swallows a good family holiday need – the rear seats also foldable for increased luggage space when needed.

Safety features in the Creta include dual front and side air bags for drive and passenger and curtain air bags for protection of rear passengers as well. The Creta is also equipped with an anti-lock brake system and Electronic Braking Distribution (EBD).

All prices include a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, a 7-year/200 000 km warranty (comprised of Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty, with an extended 2-year/50 000 km drivetrain warranty) and roadside assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km.

Road Review – Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDI Elite 7DCT2

“I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)
A little better all the time…”

Those lyrics, penned by Paul McCartney and John Lennon for the seminal 1967 ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album by The Beatles, reflect the progress made by Hyundai as an automaker – co-incidentally formed in 1967.

From its first production car – the Cortina in 1968 in conjunction with Ford – Hyundai Motor Corporation has moved from fledgling to full-grown and a major player on world markets with a structured product range that consistently improves with each iteration.

This is important because – as yet – Hyundai has not shown the complacency some others have done when climbing into the top three in world sales and where product eases backwards from vibrant to boringly predictable.

Heave-ho forward to 2018 and the introduction of the revised Tucson range into South Africa where the derivative has been a top-contender in its market segment since it was first launched in 2009.

tucson_aqua_blue_side_01_880x500

In 2017, the Tucson had an 11,1 % share of the segment and this declined in 2018 in the year-to-date to 9,0%, as the old model completed its runout phase.

The new version has been given a new front and rear appearance with the addition of the Hyundai signature cascading grille, along with a new design headlight, fog lamp, front bumper and skid plate.

The Tucson’s interior is also new, sporting a redesigned dashboard with a floating 7-inch screen for its infotainment system that offers features such as Apple’s CarPlay.

Two new derivatives were introduced in the revised in the Tucson range, and a new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission and 8-speed automatic transmission form part of the changes in the Tucson line-up.

The Tucson’s sporty exterior design is achieved by the cascading grille and the refined new light signature with full LED headlights. An uplifted front bumper and refined skid plate complement the Tucson’s exterior appearance.

tucson_aqua_blue_front_01_880x500

At the rear, the Tucson was gained a new rear taillight design, with a redesigned bumper and exhaust tailpipe. Its side profile features a new 19-inch wheel design for the flagship 1.6 TGDI Elite derivative.

tucson_aqua_blue_rear_01_880x500

Tucson’s completely new upper dashboard features high-quality soft touch material with a double stitching line for a more high-quality feeling in the interior. The focal point of the centre console is the floating audio system screen.

The new Tucson range in South Africa features seven derivatives, with a choice between three engines – a naturally aspirated 2,0-litre petrol engine, a turbo-charged 1,6-litre petrol engine and a 2,0-litre turbo-charged diesel – and three specification levels..

The test unit was the 1.6 Elite – a very significant plus factor in this being Hyundai works on the ‘what you see, you get’ so there is no working through a lengthy list of optional extras to try and find the base that matches the published pricing.

For Tucson, there are simply three specification levels with the Elite being top-of-the-range.

However, base specification is impressive and includes cruise control, the infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, LED daytime running lights, driver, passenger, side and curtain air bags. Executive adds Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), leather seats, Blind Spot Detection for side mirrors, Cross Traffic Alert detectors at the rear, electric seat adjustment for the driver and a full auto air-conditioner with climate control.

Elite, gains a panoramic sun roof, electric seat adjustment for the front passenger as well, a rear USB port, a push-button to start the engine and keyless entry.

tucson_interior_01_880x500

Priced at R559 000 it goes up against the Mercedes-Benz GLA 200, Audi Q3 1.4 FSI and BMW X1, all of which are light in terms of the standard features comparison and offer options that will take their final price up a notch or two.

The Elite is powered by a 130 kW, 265 Nm turbo-charged 4-cylinder petrol engine, which is coupled with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, developed in-house by Hyundai.

There are three distinct drive modes on offer from the benign Eco setting that attempts to keep the vehicle in the highest feasible gear at all times and makes very gentle downshifts through Comfort where the rev range and gear ratios are best suited to daily traffic and short-haul runs.

Sport mode comes as delight and the car gets quite edgy in its desire to hurry up and launch itself at the far distant horizon and it is like having three cars in one.

Overall average fuel consumption ran at 8,1 l/100 km giving truth to the Hyundai claim the new auto box improves economy. However, when switched into ‘angry’ mode be prepared for a substantial increase in fuel use concomitant with burying the right foot and insanely yelling ‘Hoora’ as you power it out of yet another corner.

Equally, once cruising speed is reached and Eco mode engaged, the consumption drops quite dramatically – hence the very competitive overall average.

As a mid-size SUV the Tucson provides the right balance between everyday transport and leisure activities – comfortable seating with plenty of adjustment and enough support to keep long-haul runs from being tiring and painful, enough space for family luggage needs/sports equipment yet still small enough to get in and out of shopping centre parking spaces.

It comes with a 5-year/90 000 km service plan, 7-year/200 000 km warranty (comprised of Hyundai’s 5-year/150 000 km warranty, with an extended 2-year/50 000 km drivetrain warranty) and roadside assistance for 5 years or 150 000 km.

As I said: “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better (Better)…”

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.

h1-1_880x500

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!

h1-interior-02-small_880x500

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.

h1-bus-rear-02_880x500

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!

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.

20180423_111034

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.

grand_i10_front_blue_01_1800x1800

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.