A lot, good and bad, has been said about the Hyundai Staria since its debut last year, and more will likely be said as its life cycle continues. And for good reason.
Like the radical General Motors minivans from Pontiac, Chevrolet and Oldsmobile in the early 1990s, which were collectively called the Vacuum Cleaners for their mini-vacuum look at the time, the Staria looks out of this world and unlike any other van sold today.
The cargo is ready for shipment
Futuristic spaceship or RoboCop are some of the descriptions that have been thrown around so far, and some observers are still in disbelief that Hyundai has put what appears to be a concept car into production without changing much of the exterior or interior for mass production. production.
While that was certainly applaudable, there was always the worry that the Staria would make the transition from cool people train to futuristic freighter, minus a number of apps that are guaranteed to reduce that cool factor light years from the MPV version .
READ ALSO: The Hyundai Staria Multicab is hauling space-age cargo
Unlike its predecessor, the H-1, which transitioned from MPV to Multicab combo and eventually to panel van with ease, the Staria doesn’t do well, admittedly, losing out on the same torch, mainly as a result of its wheel design. and the absence of the Robocop-esque light bar adorning the bus.
Even so, however, it remains a visual triumph that made a recent week-long stay even more enjoyable than getting to grips with it during its national media launch this January.
On the subject of space…
In addition to the exterior, which can be decorated in four colors; Our tester’s Graphite Grey, Cream White, Shimmer Silver and Moonlight Blue colors are the biggest sign that the Multicab is ready to go – when the twin sliding side doors open.
Providing seating for three people on benches, the cabin is separated from the cargo area by a steel bulkhead with rear glass and a protective bar.
At the same time, the Staria Multicab features a walk-through design where the front seats are not separated from the rear seats, meaning faster ingress/egress for front passengers in tight spaces or limited parking spaces.
Apart from the seats, Hyundai has also replaced the folding rear door with a barn door style design that provides access to the cargo area which can hold 2890 liters and up to two Euro pallets.
When verifying the Korean brand’s claims, the Multicab did indeed have two pallets loaded, albeit mistakenly in a stack instead of one after the other.
Except for loading, which requires some muscle, which the author lacks, this process presented no problem as the low loading lip makes it easy to handle bulkier items.
Moreover, a number of mounting hooks are built into the floor, and safety is provided by the aforementioned protective grilles behind the windows.
The Staria Multicab’s commercial credentials are complemented by a 1,074kg load capacity, well above the double cab load capacity, a braked trailer towing capacity of 2,500kg and an unbraked trailer load capacity of 750kg.
Work in luxury
Despite its workhorse persona, the Multicab looks nothing like a workhorse inside, as it uses the entry-level, but still well-equipped, derivative of the Executive passenger van as its base.
That means it comes standard with Hyundai’s latest multifunction steering wheel taken from the Tucson, power windows, power folding mirrors, cruise control, faux leather seats that don’t look like a van, a wireless smartphone charger, dual USB ports and automatic climate control.
It also gets a sci-fi-style 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster mounted on the top of the dashboard and an integrated eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Despite its dated appearance, the system is easy to understand and use and complements the modern and streamlined interior, which is not only well-built, as can be seen from the materials used, but also spacious thanks to the top drawers, door pockets and slots on the dashboard.
In fact, the highlight is the overuse of piano black detailing around the infotainment system, which looks too over the top for a car of this type.
That said, anything but a typical commercial vehicle is the Staria Multicab’s safety sheet, which includes six airbags, parking sensors, a reversing camera, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and electronic stability control.
As mentioned at launch, the knockout punch comes in the form of a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine that delivers its 130kW/430Nm with absolute aplomb.
While the H-1’s 2.5-litre unit is down 11Nm and up five kilowatts, the engine is refined, smooth and moves the Multicab’s 2,016kg with more than enough grunt.
Coupled with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, this combination made the Staria Multicab a breeze to drive, and although Sport is offered as part of a drive mode selector consisting of Eco, Normal and Smart settings, it was rarely used due to the feel of the engine. strong willed enough to… deliver the goods as usual.
Unlike the nine- and eleven-seater buses, the Multicab uses a traditional gear lever rather than a push-button mechanism, which worked just fine and flawlessly, despite the fact that manual shifting is provided.
Aside from the less visually pleasing 17-inch wheels, which Hyundai claims are made of light alloy despite looking anything but, the Staria Multicab’s ride is compliant and comfortable, but thanks to leaf springs at the rear it’s springy without cargo on board.
Admittedly, this is unlikely to be a major problem in the long run, as is the fuel consumption, which was 7.4L/100km.
While this is really good, as evidenced by the 6.3L/100km figure recorded at launch, some of the blame may lie with using the Multicab for city trips and daily commuting for seven days and 522 km stay.
The wild success that the Hyundai Staria has achieved since its launch has not only been celebrated, but supported in terms of aesthetics and value for money, many of its rivals simply cannot match.
In the case of the Staria Multicab, the combination of cargo and people movers in the same space-age package struck gold, even if it lost some of the details that make people movers a little more special.
However, at R764,900, the aesthetic sacrifices are small and worth making for the workhorse of the future.