Launch Report: Hyundai H-1 Facelift

It seems like Hyundai is on a mission to keep all its products fresh ‘n crispy – we recently attended the launch of their face-lifted H-1 bus range.

Do you drive an SUV? You should, at least statistically. I always appreciate the latest vehicles sales statistics and trends as presented by the friendly Hyundai execs at their launches. To start off his presentation of the refreshed H-1 range, Stanley Anderson from Hyundai Automotive S.A. ran us through some sobering stats.

Year-on-year and halfway through 2018, the overall S.A. market is slightly down by 1.28%; passenger cars increased by 8.15% but LCV (light commercial vehicles) took a 12.74% knock. MPV’s like the H-1 are down 8.1% but Hyundai’s southern African market share grew slightly from 2017 and into third overall position.


Same for the most recent (U.S.-based) JD Power quality survey where the brand sits in third place.


Right, on to the H-1. Since launching the big boxes in 2009, Hyundai S.A. has shifted 17,633 units: 14,424 busses, 2,272 panel vans and 937 MultiCabs. Unfortunately, the specialized H-1 MultiCab has been discontinued and the company also moved away from bulk fleet sales; like big rental firms.

However, Transnet – South Africa’s rail system – is still a big customer and consumes H-1 like there’s no tomorrow. The practical (and plainly, reliable) people carriers are used to ferry train drivers around the country to and from their eight-hour shifts. This leads to an average of 20,000km per month, per vehicle!

So what’s new for 2018? Design-wise, H-1 has a completely new front end with projector-type headlights and a huge new grill, new side mirrors and new wheels. Inside you’ll find a slightly restyled dashboard containing Hyundai’s touch-screen infotainment system with optional navigation – the SD card costs about R2,500 from your dealer.

Other model-dependent features include auto light control, tilt & telescopic adjustment of the multi-function steering wheel, remote central locking, glovebox cooling, a rear wiper, illuminated front vanity mirrors, loads of storage bins (including a sunglass holder), ABS with EBD, two airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and a four-ring strengthened body construction.

On top of that, the Diesel (Elite) bus gets chrome elements in its front grill, indicator repeaters in the side mirrors, a rear park camera, bigger wheels (up from 16 to 17-inch), side airbags, ESC (electronic stability control), driver’s safety power window and electric folding side mirrors.

Full range and prices:

  • H-1 2.4P Executive Bus 5-sp M/T      R499,900
  • H-1 2.5TD Elite Bus 5-sp A/T             R629,900
  • H-1 2.5TD Panel Van 5-sp A/T           R459,900

The great news is that these prices are identical to the previous models but with improved specs. That also goes for the H-1 Panel Van which “only” has Bluetooth and a multi-function steering wheel, two airbags and air-conditioning but benefits from the upgrades with tilt & telescopic steering wheel adjustment and those new projection headlights.

Potential H-1 owners may choose from three colours: Creamy White, Hyper Silver or Ocean Blue. All models have a 75L fuel tank, 190mm of ground clearance and a five-year/150,000km warranty with roadside assistance, as well as an additional two-year/50,000km powertrain warranty and five-year/90,000km service plan.

The 2.4L four-cylinder petrol engine churns out up to 126kW or 224Nm, while apparently using an average of 10.2L/100km. The 2.5L turbo-diesel four cylinder claims 125kW or 441Nm, as well as 9.8L per 100km. Each 2.4 petrol uses a five-speed manual gearbox and all 2.5 TD’s have a five-speed automatic transmission. Every H-1 is rear-wheel driven.

We only drove the top-spec 2.5 Elite nine-seater bus on the launch but were impressed by its stability and improved sense of quality. Performance and consumption seem adequate, the ride and passenger comfort are commendable while that big media touch-screen brings a welcome dose of technology to the H1 cabin.

Coming back to those recent sales stats, you won’t be surprised to hear that the SUV segment is booming while estates, the former mommy-wagons, have fallen off a cliff; despite SUV’s being raised estates. Anyway, should you need more space (and value) than most SUV’s or estates, best visit Hyundai for a good look at the new H-1 range!

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